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Best Brand Experience Practices Behind the Curtain

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Lisa VanRosendale

Senior VP, Business Development


Angie Smith

Guest Author


How Atlassian, CEMA, and Freeman approached a unique behind-the-scenes tour

When you’re giving 2,400 attendees a peek behind the curtain to see how a major international brand event actually works, it requires a strategy that takes best practices and puts them front and center — not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

That’s exactly what Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) members got to see in action at the Atlassian Summit in Barcelona: an intensive behind-the-scenes “tasting tour” that popped the hood on how tech giant Atlassian and partners like Freeman collaborate to produce a brand experience like no other.

The approach? The same one they use to create an amazing community experience for the large Atlassian customer base, which is comprised of millions of users of its software development, project management, and content management products.

Whether it’s an immersive journey behind the scenes or an interactive brand event, having a great strategy based on best practices is where the magic begins. If you weren’t lucky enough to be in Barcelona for the tour, we’ve outlined some highlights to give you little taste. Here are the key things that CEMA members got a glimpse of during their time at the Summit.

Best practice #1: Align your vision to your goals

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of an event vision — when you’re brainstorming, often the sky is the limit. But don’t get caught up in doing something just for the sake of doing it — make sure that when you create an engaging experience for your attendees, there’s clear purpose driving it every step of the way.

The most important skill required to orchestrate not only an immersive experience, but one that delivers results, is making sure that everything you do aligns to your event objectives. These objectives should create the backbone of your measurement plan, fuel your ROI, call back to your overall marketing goals, and most importantly inform the creative process.

A great tool to help communicate your plan and how it aligns to your event goals is an attendee journey map. It’s a visually driven approach to validate your creative process, making sure your attendee journey is informed by your event goals and vice versa.

Atlassian's journey map for the 2018 Europe Summit

Best practice #2: Believe in the power of teamwork

Teamwork is a foundational belief at Atlassian and plays a critical role in how they deliver their products and work with their partners. It’s also a must-have when it comes to planning a unique, engaging event for your audience. It may seem like an obvious point, but without teams functioning at the top of their game, the planning and execution of a complex event can easily fall apart.

Like Atlassian, everyone involved in your event — whether they’re part of your organization, an event partner, or a vendor — must work with a respectful and collaborative mindset, both toward one another and toward achieving a successful event that delivers on your objectives. The power of teamwork can make the impossible happen, but only if everyone is communicative, open, and transparent.

We see Freeman as an extension of our team. They are not our vendor, we are in this together. We are partners. It is important for our partners to know as much about our culture, our customers, and our goals as we do as employees.

Angie Smith

Head of Event Marketing, Atlassian

Best practice #3: Go “glocal” to keep things relevant

No matter where your event might be held, one of the most important things to consider is the local culture and the local business needs. When you understand the environment around your event, it allows you to take advantage of the local flair for inspiration, design, and execution.

Atlassian worked with Freeman, CEMA, and other partners and affiliates to understand the ins and outs of the Fira, one of Europe’s largest exhibition spaces, as well as of Barcelona in general. This allowed them to optimize the spatial environment they created to make an immersive world within the beautiful Spanish location. The local culture was reflected in the cuisine at the event, like Iberico ham and Cava wine; entertainment like Flamenco dancers, Spanish DJs, and a saxophonist from Ibiza; and the closing program on the beach with a beautiful view of the Spanish waters.

The design of the event itself encouraged networking and peer-to-peer learning, exploration throughout the space, and drove attendees to spend more time in the expo hall, making it more unique to the Fira and more relevant than a typical booth-driven design.

Best practice #4: Focus on the attendee

One of the things Atlassian prides itself on is listening to its attendees to inform the planning and design of the Summit. And the proof is in the pudding — by taking this approach, its scores, sponorships, and attendance have all seen a boost.

That’s why it’s so important to put the focus of your planning on your attendees for real event success. What do they want from your event? What are their goals, their needs, their challenges? How can you connect with them on a personal level? Leverage the data you have and the input you get to create activities, sessions, designs, and more that resonate with your audience and make your event memorable.

Atlassian’s customer community is big on education, sharing information, and collaborating, so they created multiple channels for attendees to network, learn, and give personal testimonials at the Summit.

Not everyone gets a behind-the-scenes tour to see what makes a large global brand experience tick, but thanks to Atlassian, CEMA, and Freeman, these best practices are a tasty treat that you can apply to your own events, big or small.

To learn more about how we can use best practices to partner with your organization on your next experience, contact us today.

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