When I designed the
fundraising gala for an inaugural car race in 2005, I knew the name
of the event was going to be very important: Not only was car
racing new to the city of San Jose, Calif., but it had a
fundraising gala component to support a new nonprofit
The name, therefore, needed to speak to
the summer festivities of the car race and at the same time be
strong enough to stand on its own. It had to be simple yet
sophisticated, unique yet recognizable. It had to support the
overall marketing strategy as well as unify the array of ancillary
programs associated with the “More Than a Race” tagline. Plus, the
name needed to underscore the coolness, edginess and speed of the
cars, yet speak to the affluent individuals interested in
supporting the philanthropic cause.
The concept of the gala was developed
first. I envisioned very exclusive beach cabanas instead of
traditional round tables that individuals and groups could buy out.
After much consideration, it was clear to me that the perfect name
for this event was simply “Cabana.” It says what it is and evoked
the high-end beach concept that would appeal to the philanthropists
we wanted to attract.
Following are tips to help you name
your own events.
* Determine legacy.
The name of your event is a key factor in the overall branding
process. Developing an event brand as recognizable as Comic Relief
or Lollapalooza takes skill and discipline. The question arises:
Should your event name evolve each year to coordinate with each
fresh theme, or should you create one durable title?
If your currently unnamed event is a
one-off program, you have more leeway with playful names. If you
intend to hold the event for an unlimited duration, it is best to
keep the name pithy while influential. If you completely change the
name of your event year to year, you will merely confuse and
alienate your attendees.
* Be direct. Some
great names imply exactly what they are or evoke a certain feeling.
A prime example: the Consumer Electronics Show.
* Make all names tie
in. The overall name of your event should always retain
ultimate hierarchy. Consider it the matriarch or patriarch, and
subsidiary events (galas, networking mixers, ancillary/auxiliary
sessions) as the individually talented and purposeful offspring.
Let’s say a national investment bank calls its annual incentive
program “Invest 2 Rest.” The networking welcome reception for top
performers could be called “Best @ Rest,” and the closing gala
award ceremony, “Conquest.”
* Keep it short. One-
to three-word names are your sweet spot. Any more than that is
overkill. Also, names should be no more than five syllables.
* Choose a team. If a
large committee is involved in choosing the name, you are pretty
much guaranteed to end up with something like “The Good
Conference.” Keep the naming committee small. Consider the
following fail-safe recipe for putting together an effective naming
team: one creative type, one strategic type and someone completely
off-the-wall. Have them submit a short list. Vote from this list
with a small group of carefully selected stakeholders who
understand the attendees, goals and objectives of the program and
have an equally balanced respect for both engineered vision and
Finally, what do you do if you inherit
an event that already has a name? If a legacy event has been wildly
successful in the past, but the event concept is getting
significantly redesigned, should you change the name? The answer to
this is almost always yes, but you do not have to change the whole
title. You can keep a portion of the name and simply tweak it.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is senior event operations manager with
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos,