Theming is fundamental to the conceptualisation and delivery of every successful event – your theme sets the tone for the entire experience and drives all subsequent planning decisions. The theme is the first impression people will have of your event. So how do you choose a conference theme that is fresh, appealing and on brand? A meaningful concept behind your event helps to direct your planning, keeps your messaging on track, drives audience engagement and delivers on your business objectives.
Try to formulate your theme in the form of a question, a statement, a challenge or an idea. Select a theme that can be interpreted loosely, is relatively abstract and open to interpretation. A good conference theme can be carried throughout every touch point of the event including visual design elements, topics, and merchandise and can offer a sense of direction for your speakers. It must be aligned with your company or industry and be consistent with your brand image.
Here’s some simple steps to help you choose a theme that will bring your next corporate event to life and create a lasting impression.
Define the event goals and purpose
Establish the intent of your conference or overall message. Determine what the "takeaway" from the conference should be – what do you want your attendees to remember after they leave? A clear message and intent is key to developing an effective theme for your conference.
Ensure your theme is relevant to your target audience
Identify your target audience – who do you want to attend your event, and why? How old are they? What is their cultural background and customs? For example, a Business Chicks corporate event will have a theme very different to the Petroleum Gas Conference. The reason for this comes down to who are wanting to attract to your event and what message you are communicating. Then the challenge is finding a creative way to tell that message that will resonate with them. Your theme should be intelligent, inclusive and appealing to attract a high audience attendance rate.
Consider your budget and the event parameters
Where is the conference being held? What is the duration of the event? How many attendees are you expecting? The theme for a local one-day conference can be slightly more specific and targeted as opposed to a longer, three-day international forum.
Review the theme's requirements in line with your budget. An elaborate theme that requires lots of touch points to be effectively communicated may not be in your budget scope.
Review your theme in relation to your company’s values, branding and purpose
Company Values – Understand what your company stands for and choose a conference theme that reflects those values such as honesty, customer centricity or excellence.
Branding – Can you draw any concepts or associations from your brands’ logo, colours or general branding creative and shapes?
Company Vision or Purpose - An event theme that incorporates your overarching mission is a great way to reinforce your positioning and help build brand advocacy.
Look to industry trends, topical news or popular culture
Take inspiration from external sources to facilitate brainstorming and to gather ideas. Sport-related themes are popular amongst conferences and corporate events, such as “Batter Up!”, “Teamwork Wins the Race", or "Winning is a Habit; Success is a Choice." Other themes can be inspired by historical events or eras; such as Prohibition or First Man on the Moon; or from pop-culture, such as Harry Potter, Casablanca or Alice in Wonderland. A theme can also come from music or inspirational quotes from the likes of music legends like Elton John, David Bowie or Adele. Ensure your theme complements your industry or company and keep your theme consistent with your image.
Keep it simple
Remember less is more! A good conference theme should be inherent in every aspect of your conference – from the speakers and their topics, to the event design and AV, the food, breakout sessions and activities, all the way to the final gala dinner.
Keeping the theme simple and to-the-point also prevents miscommunication of the overall message of the conference. Think ‘Opportunity Knocks, ‘Commitment to excellence’ or ‘Building for the future’. It could also be relevant to your industry – if you’re a funds management company “It all adds up!” may be the perfect theme for you.
Integrate the theme into every touch point - before, during and after your event
A simple theme, clearly communicated, aligned with your brand and with the conference's purpose will inform prospective attendees and reinforce your message. A theme unifies objectives and provides focus for the event, as well as setting the tone for presentations, speaker content, activations, etc.
Incorporate the theme onto your invitations, programs, brochures and electronic marketing, name tags, signs and conference-related gifts or memorabilia. Your theme should identify the conference and its attendees clearly and specifically. Order giveaway items with the theme and logo on them, such as t-shirts or other memorabilia to really impress and add value for guests.
Get ideas from the conference experts
Deciding a conference theme can be one of the hardest decisions conference producers face. That’s where we come in. Let us work together to uncover a brilliant theme that perfectly ties your brand and message into an engaging experience. Staging Connections have been executing imaginative conference themes for over 30 years. Whether you’re planning a medical, financial or education conference - we have the experts, tools and props to bring it to life. Contact us today to discuss how we can execute our seven steps to choosing an event theme and then make it a reality.