Let’s talk about something here: branding. This is an idea I would like to discuss in regards to event planning.
*This post will focus specifically on event planning and branding from a recruitment perspective, but it can be applied to a wide range of topics.*
So as the title suggests, the Disney approach is quite impressive. People adore it or hate it for one reason or another, but you can’t argue that Disney does not do an extraordinary job of branding.
Just what is branding, you ask? Well it is the idea of association. When you see those three little black circles that form Mickey’s head and ears, you have certain ideas, thoughts, feelings, and emotions associated with it. But what is your brand? Do you put in the extra effort and thought to ensure that when people see your letters, think of your office, your hall, they have a positive association? Do they think of that being the group that does that great service or the frat that throws those terrible parties? Do they know of the great programming done in your hall or are they concerned about the lack of friendships they gained and the apparent lack of effort?
So what does it take to truly build a brand? Disney has done it through years of commitment to their roles and what we call a “cult-like culture.” Before you begin worrying about kool-aid and what not, let me clarify. Disney is cult like because they have a common language. Rather than employees doing jobs, they have actors in roles. You are always in character, to the point that I have heard stories of people being sick in their character heads in order not to ruin a child’s experience. Is that commitment or what?
When it comes to your organization, are you that committed? I remember watching brothers run out of events and at times being that brother myself. I once even missed an event I had planned. The brothers and potential new members had a great time and things ran smoothly, but as the brother who had been responsible for it, I did not live up to my fraternities brand. So what does that commitment look like? Once of the best recruitment events we had as an undergraduate brother involved an incredibly popular professor on campus, gumbo, and a lot of work. We spent weeks ahead planning and asking this professor if he would be interested and willing to come and speak about neodiversity at our house. Myself and another brother met with him before the event so that both he and we knew the topics to be discussed. We talked about reserving parking for him and an estimate of attendees. We mentioned that we were making gumbo (which he as a Louisiana Creole was an expert on) and offered him a chance to look at our advertising. We put our advertising all around the building where he taught, posted on different organizational and program calendars across campus, each brother shared it with their classes and friends, and we took every chance we could to bring people in. Our house sat a bit back from the road, so we put signs to make sure people knew where they were going and had brothers around to meet people at the front of the house, give them a tour, and help them get food and find a seat.
The reason this event worked so well when it came to branding was that it was run well, it was on a topic that matched our values, and we considered the small details. The event involved outreach to ensure that people knew it was going on and making sure that we took every precaution to enable people to attend. We were tour guides, hosts, cooks, servers, chefs, participants, learners, and more right beside our guests. Sitting in a room surrounded by our letters, discussing a topic that perfectly defined our values and principals, branding became a reality.
So as you work on your events, looking to create your own brand, keep in mind the details. Nothing is too small to overlook. Be flexible, preplan, and have fun.