How to brand at outdoor summer events

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By Andrew Witkin, founder and president, StickerYou

Summer festivals and outdoor events are an amazing opportunity to get your brand noticed and to have face-to-face interactions with customers that help them build a meaningful relationship with your brand. 

Emotions often run high at outdoor events, which engender a sense of communal experience and offer a chance for brands to emotionally connect with audiences in ways that aren’t possible online or in stores. According to a global study conducted by Live Nation, 90 percent of live music fans believe brands have the power to elevate the concert or festival experience. Outdoor events and festivals clearly have opportunities for brands to explore.

Here are some tips to help your brand get noticed and cultivate a positive connection with audiences at outdoor events this summer.

Know your audience

The crowd at an apple pie competition is very different from the crowd at an electronic dance music festival, and the kind of brand activations you want to have at each will be very different as well. Before you start planning for an event, do your research to get a sense of who will be there – the typical age range, tastes in music, sense of fashion. Look at photos from previous years of the event if possible to get an understanding of the crowd you can expect. This will give you an idea of who you need to market to, the kinds of promotions they’ll likely respond to and who among your staff would be best suited to attend. For example, temporary tattoos might be a hit at a rock music festival, but might not work as well at a classical music gathering. 

Have an eye-catching booth

In most instances you’re likely setting up a booth or table at the event. There will be lots of other brands there vying for people’s attention, so one of the easiest ways to stand out is with strong visuals. Get a custom tent in your brand’s colours to make a statement – and also to provide your employees and customers with some much-needed shade. You can get custom stickers or decals on the sides so that it’s clear right away that it’s your brand. Get some crisp-looking tablecloths and consider sail banners that will wave in the summer breeze and grab people’s attention.

Give out great summer swag

Free giveaways are always key, but this is never more true than in the summer. People are hot and thirsty and in need of a little rest. So if you can give them branded swag they can use – bottled water, little samples of ice cream, fans, bandanas – they’ll flock to your booth. 

Don’t worry if your giveaways have nothing directly to do with your brand. There are a variety of ways to brand swag, from custom patches and iron-ons for cloth bags to labels for water bottles. The purpose of the swag is to get people to your booth and get your staff chatting with them – and to circulate your logo far and wide.

Create a chill zone

On a hot summer’s day at a busy event, people always need some down time. Give them a place to do that. Set up some hammocks with your logo on them. Provide a station for people to recharge their phones. Create a shady space with some chill tunes for people to come relax. You don’t even have to chat up the people who come to your chill zone about your brand; the mere experience of being there and having a good time will create positive associations for them, which can have a long-lasting impact.

Get interactive

Chilling out is great – but so is having a good time. Create an interactive activity that gives people an opportunity to let loose and have some fun. Maybe you’ve got giant Jenga set up, or a trivia game, or a prize wheel. Ideally the theme of the activity would be related to your industry in some way, but if there’s no logical way to link them, it’s still a great branding opportunity.  

Have fun

People attend outdoor events because they want to have fun. You and your staff should have that mindset, too. Even though preparing to brand at an event can be stressful, on the day of you should have a relaxed, fun mindset and transmit this mindset to your staff. If you and your employees are having a good time, it will put people stopping by your brand activation at ease and they’ll have a good time, too. And, most importantly, it will allow you and your team an opportunity to soak up all those good summery vibes, which is great for team-building and connection. We only get so many months of the good stuff – so take advantage while you can!  

Andrew Witkin

As the founder and president of StickerYou, Andrew Witkin believes in the enormous power of customization. With over a decade of StickerYou success, he is one of Canada’s leading experts in e-commerce, customization, startups, marketing and the tech economy. He is a graduate of Dalhousie University and holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University. Witkin has previously served as VP North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and Director of Marketing for MegaBrands/Mattel.