What's In a Name: Branding Live Events
As magazine publishers diversify their product lineup, maintaining a cohesive brand identity among print, online and event products is critical. But does this apply in all cases? Can publishing companies profit from standalone events that have no direct link to a magazine? We polled some industry event experts on the benefits and risks involved with creating a live event completely separate from the magazine brand.
Comments hover around two points: Creating a product's branding depends on how the audience receives it; and the nature of the event guides how its brand will ultimately be determined.
CEO, Access Intelligence
"Magazine brands are very strong brands and they represent everything that is part of brand equity to a reader community. If you're going to be the industry magazine, you need to be associated with all the major industry events. If you're going to be an industry event, you need to be associated with all the industry magazines.
Sometimes that obsession with trying to make those brands the same is damaging to both sides. If you have a show, whatever is best for that product and that brand should be done and you should never hesitate to do that because of any linkage to the magazine. That show is a profit center, it is a brand, it has customers and you need to satisfy those customers. If it's going to hurt the magazine, tough."
President and CEO, VNU Business Media
"You have to think about who the audience is, forget about the magazine and the show. The strongest brand should be the one you try to communicate with and the one that the audience will recognize depending on who the bulk of the audience is. If the bulk of the audience are going to be magazine subscribers or recipients, then a magazine would make sense. If you're running a conference of 100 people and they are all readers, then you want to have the magazine's name in the name of the event so people can relate to it. If it's a big general tradeshow where you might have 20 magazines sponsoring including your own, then it's not important to mention the magazine.
You can always co-brand things and have both names in there but in most cases if people are going to a show, they identify with the show, and they don't really care if the magazine is a sponsor or not the sponsor."
President and CEO, JD Events
"It really depends on what your strategy is and what your objectives are with the show. If you have a publication that truly dominates that market and has little to no competition, then you can have a successful show based on one publication. But it still can be a limiting game plan because you want to open yourself up to everyone in the community.
Any event we do is geared toward trying to bring an entire industry together and the best way to do that is to open your doors and have relationships with all the related magazines and associations that are stakeholders in your industry. It really depends on what your strategy is;whether you look at a show as a brand extension, a support department that is a way of increasing ad sales, as opposed to a standalone industry event."
President, Hanley Wood Exhibitions
"It's more than just a name.The advantages of having a strong relationship with a publishing entity is that you're able to package offerings and present a broader scope of opportunities to the customer to meet all of their marketing needs. You have to look at a face-to-face industry event as something owned by the industry in terms of the access you want to provide people.
Our Surfaces show doesn't carry the same name of a publication, but we do have relationships with the top four books in the industry that are outside of Hanley Wood. We just bought the Aqua Show, and while we have two very strong publishing products in that industry, we bought the show from a publisher who has retained the Aqua Magazine. You always want to dance with someone within the company if you can, but if you cannot, you need to dance with someone because that brings value to whatever you're doing."