Counting Down to 0 Day: The Cycle of Event Branding: Uncovering the Creative Guideposts

Administrative framework intact, now it’s time to dig in and get creative. If you are a creative person with an open mind for another’s process, or just want to understand a little more about how the creative process works, this is a good one for you.


You’ve been gathering a body of information and broad stroking the results in your mind in order to get to work on creating the brand. Thrown away all your pre-conceived notions about the event at this point, open your mind to everything you’ve learned and seek out areas that seem relevant and unclear.

  1. Ask more questions if necessary, and all at once. Being organized really helps the organizer understand where the line of questioning is going.
  2. Providing the information they have already given you within those questions to help keep them from feeling like they are repeating themselves.
  3. Keep it simple and clear. Feel out the organizers level of understanding of brand. I’m not afraid to admit, after years of being a design professional, jingo terminology and a deep understanding of my trade has led to having incorrect assumptions about how confusing what is being asked might be for the less informed mind.
  4. Ask the questions in logical order. Have everything written down and plan on going through them with the organizer. This structure is for both your benefits. I’ve found that sometimes even simple questions can be more difficult to answer immediately in a meeting, and need to be considered.
  5. And once the questions are answered, keep both questions and answers together and available as a reference. This is standard in business, but you’d be surprised how often this needed reference gets overlooked.


If you watch detective shows as I do, think of it as trying to solve a case. Initial fact-finding, follow-up with interviews, gather other relevant information, then throw it all up on the board and start drawing conclusions. 


Now that you’ve taken time to digest all of the information, start by laying out all of the possible text-based versions of the root graphic, configuration of elements or logo. You’ll constantly refer back to these structures. You should always assume there is going to be a place where the brand must “tell all” and be recognized in a fraction of a second and in a small space. And there will also be places where you can emblazon the full potential of your brand structure.  


This is where the guideposts come in. Like solving a case, you’ll gather the list of suspects and put the most likely ones at the top of your org chart. But this time you:

  1. Define the primary characteristics that you feel best describe the event and make them your guideposts to stay within.
  2. Some of these common characteristics you will use in varying degrees in all of your concepts. An easy example might be that if the event is more contemporary or cutting edge, you are likely to use a newer sans serif typeface to keep an overall modern edge to the look. This is where understanding design in theory and application really comes into play.
  3. Combine this with your subject, perceived audience, and overall tone of the event, location, or anything that satisfies the primary goal of the communication.
  4. Then within these guideposts, create 3-5 final concepts to present. Admittedly it’s usually 7-11 conceived directions, but I’m always prepared to throw away almost half of them.


It’s hard to explain why once you have these guideposts it isn’t easier to get it right the first time, but it probably comes down to perception. Creatively you may feel like you have nailed it by at least having all the right pieces, but the organizers may have a different mind set for the final results. And unless right from the start, they actually show you what they are going for visually, you have to rely on experience to find common ground. So you have to try and get in their headspace, the audience’s headspace and in and out of your own headspace in order to generate different creative directions. Everyone has a different creative process, but I find that I have to put limits on the time spent on each direction and then come back to them after completing a few more directions, I can then refine the previous concepts based on the other results. That back and forth often helps me integrate the common elements I described. 


As a final technical note, I always present concepts in black and white unless the color palette is predefined, and include a few support sentences describing each concept. Presenting in black and white is important because people are often prejudiced by their own color preferences, and as I always say, if it is successful in black and white, imagine how wonderful it will be in color. The support sentences help serve up the logic behind a concept, so if the look does not quite get them there, the organizers may be compelled through understanding your intention, to then verbalize a compromise and get you to the final rounds with a few logical additional steps.