Interpreting 2D brand visions into a 3D environment is a large chunk of what we do as an industry, but who instigates the ideas?
Branding is among the most poured over of corporate preoccupations, but while the pioneers of traditional print and visual mediums are immortalised in shows like Mad Men, the modern, live-minded, branding expert remains relatively unsung.
Of course, collaboration is the key to interpreting a brand’s vision in a 3D space, and Badger & Fox’s co-founder Jenny Madeley has experienced many permutations of the client-organiser relationship.
“Live brand communications is what we do. Essentially, taking those advertising words and images off the printed page and translating them into a live brand experience, which engages all the senses to leave a lasting impression on the targeted audience, who demand more than just visuals alone and expect more from brands.
“We know audiences won’t be fooled so, cut the crap, keep it simple and give them a great experience.
“We recently worked with Paco Rabanne, creating an experiential brand activation for its limited edition perfume, LA themed ‘BLACK XS’, at BST, Hyde Park.
“We needed to captivate, engage and leave the audience feeling like they had fully embraced the perfume and, of course, fallen in love with it.”
But where do you start with adding value to a festivalgoer or consumer’s brand experience? “There is no blue-print strategy which works for all activations, each one is bespoke and of it’s time,” Madeley continues. “Understanding what the brand want to communicate to their target audience is key, not just for this product, but for the brand as a whole. Understanding who they are communicating to is equally important.”
At the early stages of the pitch process, searching for an overarching concept is critical, says Chris Helliwell, creative director at WONDER London. “Ultimately the goal is to immediately grab the clients’ attention within the first couple of slides with a direction that surprises and excites, leaving them thinking ‘we have to have that’.
“If you haven’t managed to get this reaction within the first few slides, you’ve probably lost the pitch. Getting under the skin of a brand is always an exciting process – understanding their personality, tone of voice, positioning, objectives and audience, are the foundations to successfully realising a brand’s vision in a live environment.
“When an idea is pitched it is only from the agency’s point of view, with little to no input from the client side other than the initial brief.
“But once you win that pitch you begin the collaborative client partnership and the process of adapting the initial creative concept.”
Often an event sponsor or partner’s brand in the one in need of interpretation, and finding the right partner is crucial.
Nick Gratwick, head of events and development at Keith Prowse, told Access how the team at the hospitality organisation put on the Fever-Tree Championships’ hospitality.
“Over the course of the seven-day tournament we welcome up to 8,000 guests across five facilities, each individually designed to appeal to a different guest demographic.
“We’re in the first year of a new five-year contract with The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to exclusively deliver hospitality at the Fever-Tree Championships. Our joint investment has afforded us the opportunity to completely refresh the hospitality offers for guests to enjoy in 2018.
“My colleague Kate Hughes has been instrumental in driving the new look and feel across these areas with every detail pored over and considered.
“To enable this level of focus we take a holistic approach to design and ensure it seamlessly fits into the environment and tier of offer. For instance, the interior colours and wallpaper designs are reflected in staff uniforms, music is specifically chosen to fit the mood of the room, carpet depth is reviewed, even the ribbon tied around the napkins is a bespoke design.“
Considering the location’s rules is also important to strike the right balance with stakeholder, Gratwick continues.
“A tournament of this stature requires meticulous planning. The Queen’s Club is not only the backdrop to the Fever-Tree Championships, it’s a year-round members club and therefore we need to minimise disruption in the build up to the tournament.
“We need to consider the club’s members and the residents to ensure deliveries and noise is kept to a minimum, this alone takes significant planning and cooperation from partners and suppliers to achieve.”
“Like all of our events we adopt a customer first strategy which starts by gleaning the all-important feedback.
“And with 8,000 different needs to meet its imperative we ask our guests what they’d like next year. The Fever-Tree Championships genuinely is 365 days in planning.”
Venues too must think from a brand perspective. Rhian Pressley, Royal Horticultural Halls says production companies and agents too often come with briefs without giving the brand away or a brand might approach RHH with their own production company, which the organisation is flexible with, unlike many other listed buildings.
“We send out a detailed information manual prior to the site meeting so they have a good understanding of the possibilities before they get there and CAD plans.
“On site we can show them how branding ideas work introducing Ficklestix and Vinyl Impression and their ideas on an iPad.
“Branding and decor is pretty much limitless as we can use the entire space from ceiling to floor. We also have a section of truss and eight truss motors giving infinite sound lighting possibilities too. Lamborghini used this to full effect at the Urus launch and soon we’re about to suspend a greenhouse from the ceiling for a major luxury brand. The world is your oyster at the Halls, we can do pretty much anything.”
Once installed, the ‘engagement factor’ is all down to the intereptation of the brand’s vision. And this is high-pressure territory, says Madeley.
“The average attention span is only around eight seconds; sadly that’s even shorter than a goldfish.
“So we need to captivate the audience within the first 8 seconds – keep it simple, to the point and don’t over complicate the experience. Once they are interested we have 10 minutes before they are off again.”
Creativity is key however. “There is a lot on the line for brands and as a clever young man once said – ‘the biggest risk, is not taking any risk’. So it is our job to show our clients how 4D is what 2D used to be.”