Product Launches - Company Parties & Special Events

Corporate Events and Entertainment: Blurring Lines

By Jon Forst

I’ve been in film and event production for long enough to know that the most important goal for professional experience designers, event planners, creators, and directors is generating emotion in the audience. Inspiring them. Making them feel understood and valued. Creating an emotional tie between the company and the attendee results in an open space to share ideas, exchange information, and imagine a new path forward. The art and science of creating a meaningful experience is the expert amalgamation of message, imagination, physical and digital elements, stagecraft, production, and business – with a big dose of “What’s possible?” stirred in.  That is what fuels our programs, attracts some of today’s most innovative brands, and energizes our team. It’s why Trademark exists.

Crafting the Story

Experience designers, like film producers, have to understand the audience at a visceral level to win their attention and inspire emotion. Deciphering their concerns, wants, and needs relative to the hosting company’s event allows designers to translate the company’s messages into stories and experiences that match the audience.  Experience designers can then create content, production styles, and experiences on the audience’s terms. The most magical events build a connection between audience needs and the experience delivered, thereby capturing attention and creating the desired impact. 

Like filmmaking, event experience designers are the most successful when they get the story right. Creating a story companies want to tell and that they believe the attendee wants to hear is the high art of experience design, and the heart of a successful event.

Filmmaking and Experiential Events: Cousins in Influence

Stories and imaginations set trends. Trends create followings, drive business, and inspire growth. The most inspired events tell a story the company needs to tell, and that translates to how attendees imagine the story in their own experience. To do it right, the attendee imagines themselves as the star of the story (not the other way around).  

For example, one of our clients is changing the way websites are built using visual design tools. We created an event for web designers that inspired them to imagine the kinds of websites they could build. They imagined how they’d stand out among their peers using the company’s tech. They were inspired by how they felt as they participated in the event. Bonds were created between the developers and the company during the experience. Attendees became advocates, and the technology gained popularity as the word spread. The story of developers as web dev superheroes inspired action and brand preference. That’s magic. It’s experience design at its best. That’s what inspires us to push the boundaries of storytelling with each experience we create.

Blurring Industry Lines

Both the entertainment industry and the event industry are competing for attendees’ time and attention.  Attendees are pulled in many directions, and have a myriad of demands on their time, travel budget and attention. Entertainment experiences across film, music, festivals and live performance are pushing the boundaries of creativity and immersive storytelling.  Corporate event attendees expect more than keynotes and breakouts.

Its no surprise that we, as experience designers, have taken a page out of film, festival and performance playbooks. We use techniques, tools and technology to create the scenes, stages, and immersive experiences that attendees expect – and that inspire emotion and brand loyalty for clients. We design and deliver experiences that appeal to human emotion regardless of the market or attendee. Each brand activation, employee event, product launch, or conference is an opportunity to create a truly impactful experience. The most memorable experiences, whether they are movies, performances or business conferences, are the ones that leave a lasting impression by inspiring emotion. 

Entertainment and performance are inspiring the most creative and immersive brand experiences ever. And, companies that embrace this approach are being rewarded with attendance, attention, and recognition.

TOP TAKEAWAYS:

  1. Really know your audience so that event experience feel relevant and meaningful. This begins at from the first interaction at the registration counter to a powerful entry moment in a keynote. Immerse attendees in the experience at every step of the  attendee journey. Attendees connect to stories that create emotion and inspiration. Companies that create emotion build relationships with attendees that can be shared, can start trends, and that can create brand momentum. 
  2. The line between techniques used for film and entertainment are increasingly blurred. Large scale, creative productions are becoming must-have components of corporate events. And, they are what companies need to reach attendees,  and what attendees expect.
  3. Attendees have limited time and attention, and they expect more than breakouts and networking. Creative, immersive experiences that help brands deliver meaningful messages win attendee participation and attention. And, they can trigger trends across a wide community of similar customers. 
  4. The most effective experiences appeal to emotion, and intentional creative content and production is the most effective trigger. By carefully bringing brand stories to life through immersive production can elicit emotional responses.  
  5. Blend creative and entertaining production strategies with utility. In the same way that developers attend conferences for the workshops, employees attend corporate events to be inspired by their leaders and users go to conferences to experience the newest beloved products. In every case, the attendee is the star of the show.

Every event is an opportunity to engage attendees, create loyalty, paint pictures and tell stories.  The next generation of corporate events will increasingly look like today’s groundbreaking entertainment in film, music, performance, and even digital realities. We’ll be right there as the industry and the opportunities for breaking boundaries continues!