5 Tips for Choosing the Best Conference Themes

April 16, 2019

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Your conference themes have a big impact on the overall experience: they help set the tone, shape the agenda, create session content and drive marketing direction. So what exactly is an event theme? It’s the central idea of your event, consisting of a creative concept and often represented by a clear and concise tagline. To help you with this crucial step in the planning process, we put together five tips on how to choose a conference theme that will shine throughout your entire event.

1. Keep it on brand

As we described in our recent article on writing the perfect event description, your event is a brand; both your event theme and description are opportunities to show what your brand stands for. Take the time to consider what you want your guests to feel about your brand. Use your brand’s core values and mission statement as your true north, but don’t be afraid to venture out a bit, especially during your brainstorming session (more on that below).

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is a great example of event branding. Their theme and tagline is “The global stage for innovation.” That’s super clear, brief, and immediately understandable.

2. Tailor it to your audience

In event planning, it’s always important to understand the demographics you’re working with. A room full of millennials will communicate differently and have different expectations than baby boomers. Or, perhaps you’ll be targeting a range that includes both. Knowing their interests, wants and behaviors will serve you well. Conduct surveys, comb through existing data and research third party events with comparable guest lists, taking note of what worked and what didn’t. The key is to learn as much as possible about your attendees and what they’re looking for. We find that in most cases, networking a huge driver, so your meeting theme idea should be able to tie easily into breakout sessions and other networking activities.

3. Brainstorm concepts and taglines

This is where the fun begins. Your brainstorming session can include cross-functional team members, your client and/or partners – whomever you see fit. Create a safe place where all ideas are welcome. Remind your peers about the two steps above so they’re considering the event brand and the attendees. The goal is to dream aloud and share starry-eyed visions where anything is possible. Encourage your colleagues to let go of logistics and restrictions for the time being. Get everything on the table, or whiteboard, then work together to remove or refine ideas. Having coffee and donuts in the room certainly isn’t going to hurt.

4. Consider logistics

Once you’ve narrowed your conference theme ideas to a few, consider the logistics. A one-day event may not allow for the same elaborate theme as that of a three-day event. What venues are you considering? Does location change or play into (or change) the theme? Will the physical layout and facilities accommodate what you have in mind? Are costs realistic for your budget? Don’t forget to draft a line budget as you consider what you’ll need to make the theme come to life.

5. Consistency is key

Okay, this tip is for after you’ve actually decided your theme, but it’s important so we didn’t want you to miss it. Be sure that all of your marketing efforts, emails, invitations, flyers, social media posts and swag are consistent. Creating an engaging visual and/or emotional connection to your guests will help drive attendance. This includes colors, fonts, images, logos, concept, key messages, tagline and tone. Too often, we see events without strong, consistent branding. For more tips for staying on brand, check out our post on increasing brand loyalty at your events.

How Stova can help

Remember your theme is the central idea to all aspects of your event. Use it as a way to drive your brand and make the attendee experience more memorable. When brainstorming, don’t forget to have fun yourself – a fun and positive theme will translate to your event. If you’re looking for more in-depth advice on apps and event tech, or need help coming up with conference theme ideas, subscribe to the Stova blog, and as always, if you want to talk it over with an expert, don’t hesitate to schedule a free demo!

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