There are no hard and fast rules but getting the right event name is important. So what’s in a name – actually quite a lot as I am sure a lot of businesses will testify. The same I believe is true of what you call your events.
This blog is not targeted at the big event players who have budgets to match but more at those event managers who need to make an immediate impression and don’t have a large promotional budget. Getting it right first time is imperative: as there just may be no second chances.
Before you start thinking of a name please do of course:
- Agree what is your event all about: what is it trying to achieve – the big idea? This aspiration should therefore be reflected in the choice of event name. It is therefore likely that you can have had a few event planning meetings before; you are able to settle on a name.
- Have a very clear idea of whom your events target audience is (create a detailed audience profile). You can of course name them in the event title.
How to pick the perfect event name
Having attended and organised lots of events and been on the receiving end of other event planners attempts to entice me to register for their events, I hope the following naming guidelines will be a helpful ‘aid memoire’ for the next time you are wondering what to call your event.
NB: I am of course aware that for some of the guidelines I suggest…there will of course be an event that bucks these ‘general’ guidelines. My counter argument is that we don’t really know how long it took them to get established and just how much up front promotional spend it took to get known!
- That’s different…and alas forgettable
It is worth trying it pick an event name that stands out from the event crowd: a catchy name that will ideally remain fresh and memorable. It mustn’t however be confusing or overly elaborate. In contrast: the obvious works well too – it does what it says on the poster!
We do also like to read words we understand. So in the events world the words workshop, conference, trade show, meeting, and demonstration are perhaps not the funkiness of words but are all well known. We would know what we were signing up for. And from a promotional perspective people will respond better to things that they are already familiar with and, that feels like something worth attending. This could be one of your biggest selling points!
- Have you make a spelling mistake?
I believe it is better to stick with words that can be easily spelt and recalled and that don’t contain any ‘unusual’ word spellings in the title. I would also advise against anything that is not easy to pronounce or contains an event name with made up words or phrases. Obviously acronyms are to be avoided unless preaching to the converted.
Why does this matter…well because we all search Google for everything: then if I can’t remember how to spell your event name, it is therefore not going to return any search results and or I will quickly give up looking?
Note to all and before you say but what about….. Yes I do know there are some examples of events with made up names. My point as previously stated – is we don’t know just how long and or how much promotional money it took to be a success.
- Does size matter?
Not necessarily. I know of a company that always uses event names of between 15-17 words. Why? Because they can make them very targeted (they name the audience in the title), they indicate the problem faced by the target audience and then outline the solution. Clearly there are also one word events – generally festivals. They do however also need a strapline to explain to people what they are. So festivals aside, I’d use as many words as you need to get the message across. The caveat being on how easily it fits onto the various promotional collateral you may be using to promote the events.
- So do tell…What’s your event actually about?
So what’s your event really all about…as from the event name, I haven’t got clue? The name you pick for your event should match its content. To coin a phrase it does what it says on the tin. Just ensure it has aspirational qualities (See point 6). Quirky, odd, mysterious doesn’t work for the more serious event but may work when trying to engage an audience for a more leisure time event.
- Timeless: this event could have legs!
If you think your event has the potential to grow and be around for a few years then you might want to consider an event name that can grow easily with you i.e. by using a year stamp: e.g. 18.
The other related issue here is the use of place names in the title. This is of course fine as long as you have no plans to expand outside that location. The way round it is to have an event name that easily describes the event but works with a new town name inserted in front of it.
- Inspirational or at least aspirational
I have always liked events that have aspirational names – things that make me think that by attending the event I am going to get access to a valuable system, a process, ‘how to’ guide, insider information, a new experience. So things that (if implemented) would change me, improve by business acumen, make me fitter…you get the picture. These types of event (event names) always stand out for me. They must also convey expertise and value. After all you are asking me to give up a day of my life…so I need to know it’s going to be worthwhile use of my time and or money. These events use impactful words that have a strong emotional appeal to stir up positive thoughts, such as excitement, joy or curiosity or in a business event – necessity, feelings of missing out; do this and you get ahead of your completion.
- Web and search friendly
We all know how important it is to be found on line. Events are no different. If you want to know about an event – you would Google it. Internal events aside your event name needs to work on line. This means that if your event is going to have a web presence or its own site, then it must be optimized. As I am sure many of you already know that means trying to have an event name that has a popular ‘often searched keyword’ in its title and that also appears in the Meta description. The test is to do a Google or Keywords Everyway search on the word(s) or phrase you want to use. What you are looking for is for it to return a good number of searches – in other words people (your potential audience) are actually using these words when searching for events.
Similar to setting up a business you would also want to know that your event name can be exactly matched with an available domain name. Nearly right is alas not good enough. Again appropriate searches such Companies House, Trademark, Domain registers need to be undertaken.
- Mmm…in short did you know your event means this? #whoops!
It is wise to run a search on what your event initials might stand for and or what a shorthand version of your event name might be. Always best not to find out after you’ve gone public and offended a large group of people. It is also worth checking to make sure your shorthand event name doesn’t turn out to spell something rude or inappropriate. A clever short hand version can of course lead to a great hashtag ‘social’ name. All these factors will affect sign up rates. The internet can be a very unforgiving place, when mistakes are made.
And there’s more – the naming process
So what might the process of finding the perfect event name look like? Here are my thoughts:
- Before you start getting all creative you must get absolute agreement about what the overarching purpose of your event is. What are you trying to achieve and what audience behaviours are you trying to influence or change.
- Brainstorm some ideas. I recommend 4-8 people in this part of the meeting. Or one creative genius!
- Do your research. Somebody may already be using your event name and, as most of us use search engines to find upcoming events: you’d be keen for your event to be on ‘page one’ of the search results. List your search results and then revise, rethink and or discard
- Test the market – find out what other people think of it and, importantly, if they “get it” or understand what it is without having to call you up on the phone! It could be worth seeking advice from graphic designers here too.
- Decide whether your event name needs a strap line, something that encapsulates what your event is all about in just a few words. This strap line needs to talk to your audience: so consider what might be their most likely reason for attending your event
- Finally, get everyone’s agreement for the event name and strap line. Then you can get to the exciting stage of seeing what it could look like on line and in print. You’ll need to see some mocks up here from which you will cull the best ideas…to then produce the one!
Finding a good event name that works on many levels takes time. I strongly recommend you do however allow enough time to get it right. Hopefully the above guidelines will make this process a little easier. So what’s in a name – an awful lot!
Your thoughts please: Anyone got any event naming tips or some not going to that again naming moments you are prepared to share
The author: Chris Powell, The Event Expert
I run an event management training and consultancy company (The Event Expert) delivering In-house and On-Line event management training courses and event consultancy services to accidental, occasional and professional event managers. My objective is to give them the confidence and skills to design, plan, promote and deliver their own successful and rewarding events.
I also deliver event subject specific courses, presentations and 2 to 5 day master classes. My courses and consultancy services cover all types of public and business events and are based on 20+ years of practical event management experience. I practice what I preach!