How to Design for Your Next Event
Events are a great way for your organization to let the world know who you are and what you do. From panel discussions and networking parties to open mic nites, events can help you get discovered, promote your capabilities, and build community.
“Today’s world is about experiences and face-to-face connection,” says Cathie Royer, Senior Marketing Programs Manager, CustomerMining at Adobe. “Because there’s no better way to connect with current customers and meet new customers, the return on the investment you make in planning and promoting an event can be returned many times over.”
To publicize your event and communicate with attendees (and everyone else), you’ll need to create assets — an event brand identity and digital and print marketing materials — that you post, e-mail, and/or snail mail before, during, and after the event. Here’s what experts recommend:
Establish Your Event Identity
Before you post your first invite or flyer, it’s smart to develop and line up all the elements you’ll need to create everything related to the event:
- A strong, memorable background image
- A catchy headline or title
- One or two distinctive typefaces for headlines and body copy
- A color scheme of three or four colors
An effective event identity is simple, eye-catching, and flexible. You can use it large or small and adapt it to horizontal and vertical formats, to digital media and print. Then, every time you need to product or print something new you won’t have to start from scratch; your elements, such as a stock photo background or illustration, a typographic logo, and the color palette, can be saved in an Adobe CC Library that you can access easily when it’s time to create the next post or collateral piece.
KOI Creative Space in White Plains, NY, is a small business that’s been doing this well. A co-working space by day, in the evening they’ve hosted coding workshops, startup pitch sessions, cocktail-mixing demos, and yoga classes. “We focus a large part of our marketing efforts on organizing and hosting events,” says graphic designer Jon Manierre, KOI’s managing partner. “Events get people through the doors and allow us to really get to know the community. We’ve learned that even the best events can be poorly attended if we don’t design a compelling identity and get the word out.”
For inspiration, visit Behance and scroll through the best of what designers all over the world have been doing. You can search by projects>branding>most recent.
When you’ve figured out the look and feel you’re after, Adobe offers images, videos, and tutorials that will help you create the assets for your event. You can browse thousands of images in Adobe Stock. And if you’d like to take an illustrative approach to the visual or the logo, this instructive video shows you how to create a colorful event logo using simple vector shapes and type.
Before the Event
Getting your unique event concept out into the world often begins with creating a flyer, a Facebook event page, sending email invites to the folks on your mailing list, and taking registrations on a site like Eventbrite. You also may want have a presence on Instagram, Twitter, and other sites where potential attendees might be hanging out.
A common format for flyers is an 8 ½ x 11 portrait. After you set up your page, try putting your attention-grabber headline at the top, your eye-catching photo or illustration underneath it, and your company name or logo at the bottom right. That’s a formula that always works. Or dare to mix it up a little bit. But don’t forget to tell people why they should come! Give them at least three reasons why to attend, and always include the date, place, time, cost, and how to RSVP. Learn more tips for creating a flyer that really stands out here.
Social Media Posts
Now it’s time to apply your elements to social media posts. Every platform has its own requirements. The Facebook event cover photo is 784 x 295 pixels in dimensions, and the size on the Instagram feed is 440 x 220 pixels. There are sites that list all the image sizes for social media, but Adobe Spark lets you create and share social media posts instantly with super-easy sizing for every platform and device, and post frequent updates on your business and personal pages. Be sure to create an event-specific hashtag so attendees can post their own photos and reactions before, during, and after the event.
During the Event
When the day of your event finally arrives, the materials you produce and share can enhance the experience of everyone who attends — and bring your message to those who couldn’t make it. This is the time to interact with attendees and build positive personal connections.
Some people who’d love to attend your event might not be able to be there. Bring it to them. You don’t need a fancy setup. Phone videos are fine (a tripod helps). You can choose between posting two- or three-minute segments, or if you have an amazing speaker, panel, or product demo, you may want to share live video of the whole event and let people everywhere “like” and comment. Consider placing sequential photos and videos in a social media story.
“Pan across the audience. Capture their interactions and conversations with the speaker and each other,” advises Ryan Doran, co-managing partner at KOI Creative Space. “We want to make people feel like they’re part of something special. When they see and like pictures of themselves online, they’ll share, which is good for them, good for you, and good for their friends who view their posts — who just might want to come to your next event.”
Brochures can be an effective guide for event attendees as they navigate activities. They can give summaries of speakers, breakout sessions, or entertainment. They can also share more in-depth information about your business that readers can consume at their own pace. The last 15 minutes or so of your event is the perfect time to hand out brochures that give your guests details about a specific product or service, or perhaps an introduction to your organization’s total capabilities.
You can get started using a brochure template, which takes the mystery out of elements like page set-up, folds, bleed, and trim—and let you focus on choosing the right images and writing the right words to tell your story. These days, brochures are often printed on digital presses, which allow for frequent updates and even personalization with each attendee’s name. So instead of putting in a big supply, think about updating often with your most current info.
Don’t forget to have an ample supply of business cards available at the door and on the refreshment table. And why not have a fishbowl where attendees can pop in their own business cards — and maybe win the door prize? It’s a tried-and-true way to make friends and build your mailing list.
After the Event
After the the last hand is shaken, it’s essential to build on the event’s momentum and deepen connections with assets that capture highlights of the event and inspire attendees to post their own photos, reviews, and kudos.
Thank You Note
Doran says that he and Manierre always follow up with email thank-you’s. “We make sure to continue the event branding, mention a few key moments or ideas that were expressed, and include a little calendar with the topics and dates of our next three events,” he says. “Once you host a successful event, people look forward to the next one. There’s a ripple effect.”
Your thank-you note could also come in the form of a social media post, call-out in your digital newsletter, or a banner on your website. Tools like Adobe Spark can help you remix your designs easily for different platforms.
Direct Mail Piece
Depending on the type of business you’re in or service you offer, it could also be time to think about another direct mail piece or flyer. And because thumbnail images of the project pop up when you open CC programs, you can just open a copy of your last file, make updates and changes, and get it ready to print and mail or email as a PDF to your newly-expanded list.