How Critical Is It to Incorporate Your Association’s Name into Your Events?

By Association Adviser staff • November 5, 2012

By Association Adviser staff

If you recall last month's Association Adviser eNews reader Insta-Poll, there was a virtual deadlock over the question: “To what extent do you incorporate the name of the association when marketing a conference or trade show?”

  • 32% said: “We maintain a unique brand for events” 
  • 33% said: “The association brand is the most important thing” 
  • 35% said: “We integrate the two nicely”

To help us explore further, we reached out to several association leaders and event professionals for guidance.

“The association name is integral to our event successes,” relates Nancy E. Lawler, CMP, VP, Convention & Meetings for the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) in Lanham, Md. “We have established our educational programs as the best in the industry and therefore people look for our name or logo and associate it with the best in the speakers and education and value for both.”

“Our name is our most important asset so we use it all the time,” agrees Phil Russo CAE, executive director of Princeton, N.J.-based NAFA Fleet Management Association. “We have such a long history with members that most refer to the event as 'NAFA', as in, 'Are you going to NAFA this year?' or 'Wasn't NAFA great this year?' That's the reason we got away from having themes, and now we simply brand our meeting as “NAFA I&E 20XX.”

Camille Stern, vice president of operations for NaylorCMG, Naylor's Fairfax, Va.-based convention management group, recommends the “integration” approach: “For the associations we work with, the show almost always has a brand name. So while the association's name may not be a part of the branding, the association logo always is. The power of the association cannot, and should never, be overlooked. That should always be a driving force.”

As an example, InterBev 2010—brought to you by the American Beverage Association and the International Bottled Water Association—holds quite a bit of weight, explains Stern. “Associations bring much more to the party and their membership base than an event that is run and/or owned by a for-profit company.”

Richard Boale, a veteran association event planner and now VP, Operations for the new AppNation technology conference in San Francisco, says that the name of some very large and well known events—the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) or the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)—supersedes the public awareness of the association behind the event. However, in most cases, says Boale, “The association name is the ultimate brand because it endures through time while the name of a trade show or convention can change based on the times, the needs and the focus of a given industry.”

The name of the association is also what people Google and look for generally when they are trying to find out about an event they may attend, exhibit in, or sponsor, Boale adds. “This is especially true when an association may produce many different events for its member sections and interests. The association name is the true constant no matter how many events it produces.”

So there you have it. No matter what name or theme you assign to your events, at the end of the day, the demand stems from your brand.

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