by Danielle Yuthas, Vice President of Marketing at SpeedPro
Cutting-Edge Trends in Branding and Event Marketing
Danielle Yuthas, Vice President of Marketing at SpeedPro, an expert in marketing strategy, sat down with Joe Moller (JM) and Adam Koppelman (AK) to get their perspectives on the latest trends in the exhibit and trade show industry. Joe is the principal of Joe Moller Events and is a master at understanding the framework and culture of clients to execute experiential marketing environments. Adam is the owner of SpeedPro Imaging Services Group located in Totowa, NJ, and has expertise in bringing big and bold creative visions to reality.
Q1: Now that in-person events are back in full swing, what branding trends are you seeing at events and trade shows?
JM: Using branding to create an immersive experience is becoming a bigger focus than ever before. Our agency is using more and more photorealistic, oversized product images to create experiences that make you feel like you are in an immersive experience. Oversized products help to create an event experience that wows attendees and creates very shareable social media moments while uniting guests in an alluring experience.
AK: I agree with Joe – fully experiential booths are an emerging trend that helps brands make a splash and make connections with guests by offering a memorable experience at an event that may be full of more traditional and simple booths. I get a lot of requests from customers asking me to help make their brand the center of attention in a sea of potentially hundreds of vendors. For me to do that, I have to listen carefully and ask the right questions to work with them to brainstorm and get clarity to help them execute their ideas.
Q2: What are some unconventional approaches to elevate show and meeting experiences in new and exciting ways?
JM: I prioritize delivering a complete sensorial experience using different touch points throughout the guest journey that appeal to all five senses: visual, auditory, smell, and touch. Two recent and successful examples of how this was created are:
- Nostalgic tastes: We created a miniature fast food to-go concept that included scaled-down versions of wagyu sliders, chicken tenders, french fries, and a handmade vegan milkshake. The food was accompanied by branded cocktail napkins and was served on a tray with a branded liner in custom-printed packaging. It was a really fun way to engage guests, create highly shareable moments on social media, and provide a unique experience – because who doesn’t love adorably cute and miniature versions of real-life things?
- Creating shareable moments: We love photorealistic, oversized images because they empower guests to create social currency. For example, we worked with our AV vendor to create a massive LED wall for guests to experience during the event. The wall had 10’ tall product images applied so it looked like they were part of the custom LED experience. At another recent event, we created a gallery-style collage wall using vintage frames to highlight different images and draw attention to the display while educating guests with the key messaging and content. We also like to work with our clients to develop dynamic step and repeat experiences that utilize color, dimension, materials, and unique patterns to amplify the engagement and social posts.
AK: Event experiences boosted by unique customizations are big for bringing more customers and guests closer to the brand and influencing how the brand makes people feel. Large displays with dimensional lettering can help brands draw attention in crowded exhibit halls, but companies can do more to tap into those five senses.
- Customize displays: A standard trade show booth offers opportunities for customization, including custom shelving for product displays and unique, textured materials used to build booth displays and custom walls. All of these elements offer guests a new experience and can be leveraged in pop-up immersive events to increase impact. And custom doesn’t always have to mean a higher price tag. If you work with the right vendor, they can help you lower costs by achieving the look and feel you want with the right selection of materials.
- Create a cohesive environment: Using large, floor-to-ceiling pieces transforms an exhibit space and helps create a feeling of immersion for guests. A brand experience within a larger event is memorable and deepens the connection between guests and brands.
Q3: Tell me about some of the notable events you have recently worked on? What was the creative process for them?
JM: We worked on a beauty launch that was really interesting and creative, and is still being talked about months later. Using lavender elements and tying in company branding, the launch transported guests into a luxurious, relaxing spa environment with an experience designed to elevate the product.
In addition, we did an event for a luxury vegan beauty brand where the focal point was a 20-foot wide logo with dimensional letters and beautiful gold finish to stand out in the space. That same event featured a neutral white and off-white color palette so the soft gold logo popped in a premium way. The 20’ wide logo was placed on a tile wall that was challenging to install, but the installation team had the expertise to produce a perfectly flat image without causing any damage to the tiles.
The indoor venue also had a pool, so we hired synchronized swimmers and offered cocktails to create an elevated experience to surprise and delight guests. The client loved the cohesiveness of the event as well as the flawless execution of the branded design elements.
Q4: What are some of the most important things to look for when you are assessing vendors to help you execute your vision?
JM: I seek out vendors who understand their craft thoroughly, who can provide a consistent product from market to market, event to event, project to project, and can help manage logistics as needed. I really appreciate the collaborative dialogue that develops when they can take my wild concepts and turn them into exciting creative production elements. I also look for someone who ensures seamless execution to make sure everything is perfect on-site.
One of the things I value most about my vendor partnerships (especially my partnership with Adam at SpeedPro) is that I can send an out-of-this-world concept, and then we can collaborate on how to best execute that vision in a way that translates successfully. We design and construct these displays with the understanding that our guests are using high-definition, ring light cameras to capture the event experience, so the installation execution must be flawless.
Having someone who can hear my ideas and translate them into an executable, cost-effective, installable collection of elements is crucial. It allows my company, Joe Moller Events, to customize and provide bespoke services to all my clients, while using materials and resources that are readily available and can be cost-effective at every budget level. I enjoy and appreciate the education I’ve developed from listening to vendors like Adam. His professional experience has allowed us to achieve greater success with our ideas.
Q5: What are details that event planners frequently overlook that lead to big problems in execution?
AK: Image quality is a big one in my experience. Having the right, scalable art or logo vector makes finished products look more professional and polished. It’s challenging to accomplish that with blown-up phone images, so investing in professional photography is critical. Of course, sometimes this isn’t possible, so having approved backup images or stock images in advance can help prevent delays. We can also change the scale of the project to be smaller to improve the quality of the final product if a low-quality image is the only option. For example, a four-foot display will look better than a six-foot display because the image doesn’t have to be blown up as much.
I also find that it’s easy to underestimate the time needed to move from ideation to creation, execution, and installation. Planning ahead and leaving ample time to complete each step in the process allows for more creativity and collaboration which can improve satisfaction with the end results.
Logistics is another aspect of the process that is often overlooked. Event planners should ask if elements are portable and determine how they will be transported. Making sure that the appropriate resources are allocated for transport, set up, and any installation ahead of time will help avoid damage to the display and ensure that all venue requirements are met.
Finally, event planners often don’t provide feedback to creative partners. We want to know what worked and what didn’t to improve. This helps develop relationships in addition to making future projects easier and more efficient to execute.
Q6: Are there any dos and don’ts when it comes to executing a branding experience?
DO: Know your audience and client relationship, communicate capabilities, collaborate on expectations, and set realistic goals.
DON’T: Let your ego get in the way. Trust the professionals who are bringing your vision to life to push back on your suggestions and ideas. Understand that they know the logistics and what is feasible and what isn’t. Work with someone who will collaborate with you and be honest with you.
Q7: What industries or markets do you consider early adopters and ahead of the curve? Who is falling behind?
JM: Health and beauty, automotive, tech, fashion, and apparel are all early adopters of new branding and event marketing strategies. The marketing practices and trends we execute on behalf of clients in those industries are being adopted by other industries at an increasingly rapid pace. The homogenization of tactics that were previously industry-specific are now applied to practically every industry.
Ultimately, creative opportunities are expected by brands looking to collaborate with event planners and print shops like Adam’s. The combination of creativity, design experience, and installation expertise makes high-quality elements and exceptional immersive experiences easier to achieve. Advances in technology mean print studios can offer a wide range of material and design options for creative projects at any scale. This brings added opportunities for event planners and print shops to collaborate creatively to deliver exceptional event experiences and make a lasting brand impression for our clients.
SpeedPro is a 170-location franchise in the U.S. and Canada and a supplier to IFA, specializing in large-format printing. SpeedPro’s primary product applications include wall, window and floor graphics, event displays, digital displays, signs and vehicle and fleet wraps. A variety of industries are served by SpeedPro including advertising and marketing companies, retail, healthcare, museums and galleries, restaurants, franchises, event venues, educational institutions and more. SpeedPro’s mission is to partner with businesses to achieve success through innovative visual solutions.