What is a Corporate Event Theme and Its Significance
Designing corporate meetings and events, regardless of the scale and complexity of the experience, is no small feat. It requires a sound logistical plan, the right team, and also requires the right strategy to maximize effectiveness. A key component of that strategy is developing the key messages you need to communicate with your attendees, and how those messages are creatively brought to life with the theme of your event.
As experience designers, we need all the strategic tools at our disposal to meaningfully engage attendees and achieve each event’s desired outcomes. And your theme lays the foundation for that. Much like a great brand or tagline, the theme of your meeting or event should be the simplistic encapsulation of your key messages that informs the onsite experience.
Benefits of a Great Theme
A great theme offers many benefits. It can add an element of excitement, build community, and of course, reinforce your brand in a unique experience for your attendees. Beyond its branding and communication benefits, a creative theme can foster innovation and greatly improve attendee engagement. By focusing on bringing that theme to life throughout the experience design, you reinforce the importance of your strategic messages with simplicity and memorability.
But first, let’s break down the key components of a great corporate event theme:
Yes, it must be strategic. It can’t be overstated that trendy buzzwords and hollow messages will quickly leave your theme with all pizazz and no heart. Attendees will see right through it.
It’s no secret that attention spans are growing shorter by the minute. Brains have been re-wired coming out of the pandemic, and the goal of your theme is to quickly create that shortcut to your key messages.
We won’t name names, but there are a few corporate event themes out there that have been recycled over the years. Think less about how to win any creative awards with your theme, but focus on a unique experience for your audience that will leave them buzzing and galvanize your overall event strategy.
*See short attention spans above. There’s no hard and fast rule for word count here but always err on brevity. Your theme is your event’s identity and in order to be memorable, it needs to be concise.
Factors to Consider When Developing Your Event Theme
When it comes to developing event theme ideas, there are several factors to consider.
- Know your audience: No one knows your audience better than you do. Yes, your theme needs to be strategic but also needs to speak to your people. Your audience demographics, what they value, their tenure within the organization, their expectations, and even current social influences should all be considered.
- Culture: Your event should reflect your organization’s unique cultural identity and values. Choosing a theme that reflects your brand, and captures the spirit of your company or product, helps solidify your strategic messages.
- Event purpose and its goals: Having a clear understanding of WHY you’re hosting your event is a critical starting point for event design. Identifying key messages of your experience will largely inform your theme development, and should always be your north star.
- Venue and location: Admittedly lower on the prioritization of informing your theme, but the venue and destination you choose can have an impact on your theme. Are there built-in opportunities within a venue that are hard to overlook as a theme idea? Does the destination beg for a certain theme?
As event organizers, keeping these factors in mind throughout the brainstorming process will help assure your theme resonates and is inclusive to as many attendees as possible.
A Theme Can’t Stand Alone
Like any successful communication strategy, your theme must be effectively brought to life and then reinforced. You cannot rely on your theme alone to get your message across. To maximize engagement with your attendees, it should be foundational to an overall communication plan before, during and after your experience.
It should also be at the core of your onsite experience. How is it woven into each presentation? How is it effectively brought to life throughout your agenda? And of course, how are you using content from your experience to reinforce your theme and strategic message post-event to sustain the onsite momentum? We look at each experience across key phases:
- Pre-event announcement/invitation
- Building excitement and anticipation
- Arrival experience
- Surprise and delight
- Onsite engagement
- Departure experience
- Post-event communication/extending the message
By looking at each phase and focusing on how your theme informs each, you greatly increase active engagement with your attendees and set yourself up for success to achieve your desired outcomes.