Your corporate event theme is the glue that holds your conference together. In fact, it’s one of the first steps in the event management process. Integrating a corporate event with a theme is key for a successful, cohesive event that generates buzz. None of that matters, however, if your theme is unpopular with the attendees.
Brainstorming a theme can be an aggravating process, but it is most important because it determines the rest of your decisions for that event. It’s a process that will take time, but when done right, it will drive the rest of your event’s success by getting your goal across to the audience. Once you’re set on a theme, you can run with it and not look back.
Choosing a theme can be difficult because you want to choose the right fit for attendees. You want to give the people something meaningful – something they connect with. It should be easy to detect how the theme links to the reason you’re bringing your people together in the first place.
At CPG, we’ve been developing and implementing themes for over 30 years. We’ll give you a peek into our process to ensure you hit the right steps of brainstorming a theme that will “wow” your audience and resonate with them in years to come.
Go Over Company and Event Background
But before the brainstorming starts, we need to identify the organizing principle of your event. This is the perfect time to start exploring what the purpose is all about. Is the company looking to grow from profits? Add stores? Reveal a new brand direction? Train employees in new software? This uncovers the key messages of your event.
Evaluating feedback, opportunities, and challenges of past events will help you drive your brainstorm.
Get Together and Get Inspired
First thing’s first at your corporate event theme brainstorm, no idea is a bad idea.
One more time for the folks in the back: no idea is a bad idea.
Brainstorm sessions are all about flow and creativity, so create a comfortable place where people feel like their thoughts count. This could mean there’s an ice breaker in the room where everyone gets up and acts silly, creating a open-minded environment. The last thing you want is for someone to feel like they blurted out something that made them look dumb. If they’re self-conscious, they’ll be timid the rest of the session, potentially stowing away some perfectly viable options that may have even led to the final theme.
With that out of the way, you want to start collaborating with your team and getting ideas down. Start by internalizing the goals you’re trying to accomplish and the values you want to communicate. Once everyone is on the same page, you can begin narrowing the scope together.
A company going through a rebrand, for instance, may want a radically different theme from the past. Let’s face it, change is scary. In this case, your attendees may be more attracted to a positive theme focused on “transformation” rather than “change”.
When you think about what the brand values, see if you can expand on those ideas to create a theme. For example, a company that wants to focus on their brand message of family would choose a theme that captures unity. This way, their event content can center around bringing their company family together.
Bring it Back to the Attendees
A theme won’t thrive if it’s not favored by the audience. Consider the demographic, their culture and social influences, their values, etc. To ensure you’re connected to their heartbeat, open your corporate event planning team to a small set of attendees. CPG has seen a lot of success in implementing a diverse engagement council.
A company with employees that are energetic and lively could be satisfied with a High Octane corporate event theme because it conveys a high-energy, fun atmosphere the audience will engage with.
Take These Tips into Consideration
Overall, you want to choose a theme that immediately connects with your audience. People should see and feel the theme the moment they walk into your event and long after they leave and understand how it ties to your business objectives.
“You will recognize the theme and see it throughout your event in collateral, branding, notebooks, swag, signage, etc” says Lauren Bauer, Account Director at CPG, who has worked with Panera Bead, Sherwin-Williams, and Bridgestone. “But if that theme does not connect to the message being given on stage, that is when people won’t remember it. When it is coming out of the mouths of the people they are there to see, it resonates with them and it jumpstarts everything that comes after that.”
From Bauer’s perspective, the theme will be impactful if it is threaded throughout every single aspect of the event. Once you have the theme in place for your corporate event, every decision thereafter will be easier.
A Theme Can’t Stand Alone
Carry the theme throughout your event to get your purpose through to attendees and influence them.
Like Bauer stresses, “No one will remember what that theme is next year if it did not connect in every piece of that event and everything they were experiencing while they were there.”
Once you’ve used your annual corporate event to inform and inspire your people and transform them into brand advocates, you’ll achieve business objectives and you can use that success to introduce next year’s theme!