My team and I had a realisation over the past 12 months. Prior to the global financial crisis, our job was to help our clients “celebrate” – be it awards nights, staff incentives or Christmas parties. The bulk of our event theming work revolved around celebration in one form or another.
But now there has been a shift. Clients can no longer be seen to be spending without purpose. They want to see results from each dollar they spend. Therefore, theming for themes’ sake no longer works.
Today we, theme specialists, need to be more accountable. Our themes must have more credibility and integrity in order to engage both clients and their guests. A theme needs to sell products, ideas or concepts. A theme must engage guests from start to finish. Our job as theme specialists is to ensure the theme allows each participant to know what the brand is, to feel/see/touch the brand and to want to tell everyone they know about the brand.
Now more than ever, we are the salespeople of the event industry and if we don’t deliver – everyone loses. I am a “themist”. I have been in this industry for over 20 years. Does that make me an expert? No. But I do have some things that I would like to share with you. This is my A to E guide of theming.
Align your theme with the brand or product – The theme of an event should provide the essential glue between your guests and your brand. Theming creates a 3D, tangible ingredient to an event, brokering how you want your brand, product or idea to make your guests feel.
Be brave – Everything in society is so safe, clean, acceptable. Those that get noticed are the ones that are brave. Take Alexander McQueen and those Armadillo shoes, Lady Gaga and her wigs, Madonna and her pointed chest, David Bowie and his Ziggy Stardust character. These are memorable, these remain in our minds. The braver the theme the stronger the memory of the brand, product or idea.
Create a holistic experience – As a themist, my job is to engage your guests from start to finish. A theme needs to massage all the senses and to ensure that each guest feels the event from initial invite, through to the final thank you. A theme should envelope your guests every inch of the way.
Do it differently – There is a real need to transform the conventional into the extraordinary. Clients want “wow”. Guests want “wow”. Why settle for what others have done before? Look outside the square.
Evolution – From now and into the future, more than ever corporates must justify their events. They must be seen to be using their dollar wisely, not seeming wasteful during “hard times”. In line with this thought, theming must sell and enhance an idea, product or brand to make it an essential part of an event. For instance, eco-theming is the next big thing to hit the event industry.
In conclusion, don’t just theme for theme’s sake: The A to E guide will give you an insight into what is hot now, what you need to be focused on when theming an event and where theming is heading in the future.
Jano Dawes, director of Brisbane’s premier boutique theming company, The Prop House, spoke at one of this year’s AIME Masterclass in Melbourne