Designing brand experiences part 1: Events / by Pauline Taks

A brand is only as strong as the meaningful ways in which you bring it to life. In the daily trenches of entrepreneurship it can be tough to generate fresh new ideas to build your brand, when there are so many options and you never know what will move the dial for you. So we are starting a series of  blogs to inspire you with things that we know work for our clients, friends and like minded entrepreneurs. We'll do that according to each category of interactions as we have defined in our Brand Thinking Canvas. This week: events.

Events are a powerful means to generate new ideas & exchange solutions, find like minded people & create connections, create deeper relationships with different audiences, build team spirit, showcase your way of working and impact and establish yourself as a leading organisation around a topic. 

At the same time, events offer a moment in time to get attention for what you do. Organising an event is a reason for people to feature your story or write about you - now. If you have ever tried to get a journalist to write about a brand you are just establishing, you will find how hard it is. Events can be a double win: do something meaningful and inspiring, while generating the buzz you need to get your cause on the radar.

Today we are sharing the inspirational examples of six changemakers who create events that bring together new communities, galvanise ideas and spread the word on their ventures.

Find an overview of branding tips at the end of the post!

The Global Children’s Designathon


The Global Children's Designathon by Designathon Works (images courtesy Designathon Works)

Designathon Works teaches children to think like designers and solve pressing global challenges using new technologies. They showcase their method in a bi-annual, one-day global event in Mumbai, Nairobi, Dublin, Amsterdam and Rio. The children have a blast and come up with amazing designs, the organisation has a chance to connect with like minded hosts across the world. The children and their inventions are the best brand ambassadors one could wish for, and Fast Company featured the first edition of the event.



Ethical Hour is the world’s largest ethical support network for conscious business, brands, social entrepreneurs and bloggers on twitter. Every monday from 8 - 9 pm London time, UK based social entrepreneur supporter Sian Conway leads dozens of people in a twitter chat with the hashtag  #EthicalHour. Over the past year, she has grown the community to a lively, supportive and vocal group of changemakers.

Hackathon for Wildlife


Internet of Elephants is on a mission to create ferociously fun games that support wildlife conservation. They have taken a lean startup approach and are building a community to help them test and improve their first game. They organise public HackathonsDatadives and game test events where wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists, wildlife lovers and techies come together to create innovative ideas for tech for wildlife and provide feedback on prototypes. Though time intensive to set up, in person events are inspiring for everyone involved, generate lots of learnings and help IoE find ambassadors, partners and team members.



Chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely organises an annual birthday party called “Tony’s Fairjaardag” (a combination of the dutch word ‘verjaardag’: birthday and fair trade). It’s an event where they present their progress in their mission to make the chocolate industry slave free. The crowd is made up of chocolate fans, Tony’s friends and partners, and in no way resembles a boring annual report presentation. The Tony’s team presents an annual report, informs guests on activities and results of the past year and they look ahead at the year to come. Guest speakers and musicians liven up the line-up. You won’t go home empty handed: your pockets will be stuffed with chocolates and other goodies. 

The Lush Summit


Images courtesy of Lush

UK cosmetics brand Lush organises the Lush Summit: a platform for campaigners, activists and like-minded individuals and companies working to make the cosmetics industry a positive support to environmental conservation and animal welfare. It brings together charities, speakers and grassroots organisations from around the world and gives them a platform to talk about their work. Besides the main stage where speakers share their ideas, there are different break out rooms like a scented cinema, a climate & energy room, a human rights room, an animals in servitude room and a spa installation. 

The Recycle Tour


Images from the Mud Jeans recycle tour on Instagram.

The Mud Jeans Recycle Tour, from Amsterdam to Valencia, shows that recycling can be fun. The Mud Jeans team brought 3000 old jeans from their homebase in Amsterdam to the recycle factory in Valencia. There, a new yarn will be made from the discarded jeans. Along the way, they joined in on local activities such as a beach clean-up in France. The road trip is a way to make the supply chain from old jeans to new jarn tangible and more fun, in a format that appeals to their conscious consumers. We imagine it was a blast for the team, too.

Tips to create an event that grows your brand

Be strategic

Events take a lot of time to set up and are over before you know it. Make sure you have a clear strategy of what you want to accomplish with your event. 

Without a strategy you are just a loud person in the corner of a room - Seth Godin

When we collaborated with our first client, Designathon Works, we knew a brand launch was not going to get people talking about us. We needed education innovators worldwide to hear about this new educational program that fuses design thinking, tech and social good. Where do those innovators hang out? We zeroed in on FastCompany magazine. DW Founder Emer Beamer had always dreamed of a worldwide event to show the world that children’s ability to solve problems should be taken seriously, so she prioritised the event as a way to showcase the method and give reporters a reason to write about us. And it worked. FastCompany covered the event. We were thrilled with the subtitle: “The clarity and creativity of 10-year-olds really shouldn’t be ignored.”

Ask yourself, which event can you attend or organise where the people you need on board to create change, want to be seen and hang out?

Don't be shy to show yourself

There is nothing more disappointing than organising an event that does not end up building recognition for your brand. If all goes well, photographers will be present, or your guests will snap photos themselves. Make sure you insert clues (subtle or bold, as you wish) of your brand so you claim the event and make it recognisable even if people share photos of it outside the context of your company communication. Banners or shirts are the most visible ones. Use screens to create more dynamic communication. Make sure you are present - but avoid looking like a cheap car dealership. 

Attend instead of organise

You don’t need to organise the event from scratch, attending existing events can also have a huge impact. Ask yourself the question: at which events can your audience encounter you in a way that adds to their understanding of you? Or, where does your audience hang out where you can meet them? Make sure you are there!

Find lots more inspiration on how to grow you brand in our branding toolkit for changemakers: Brand The Change!

Find lots more inspiration on how to grow you brand in our branding toolkit for changemakers: Brand The Change!


Events can be digital

Remember, events do not need to be a gathering of people in a physical location. Online google hangouts and twitter chats can attract large groups of like minded people.

Document, document, document

If a tree falls in a forrest and no one is around to hear it, did it really happen?

To stretch the impact of your event, find a proper way to document and report it. Think of video, live blogging and photography. Documentation is not just great for the people who didn't attend, but it wil be source material for all your communications and you can include it in reports to investors, for instance.

Have a press kit ready

Make sure that you have an easy to access press kit with all the information journalists need to cover the event and make your contact information easily available. 

Are you organising an event? Tag us in your photos on instagram so we can join in on the fun. 

Disclaimer: we are not paid or reimbursed in any way to feature the brands mentioned in this blogpost.