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Start with Why - Memorable Moments, Branding, and Community

The International Festivals and Events Association recently held its annual conference. It is a way for scholars and top festival and events staff and board members to network and learn current trends and new ideas for festivals and events and the organizations that run them. Each year, there are some takeaways, and 2018 was no exception.

The festivals and events industry brings the spirit of a place to life. It connects the attendees to a community. The attendees might be their own community , but it also allows for engagement of a city or town. It is vital to be able to showcase a public spirit and help create what is possible in the community through imagination. The property must fit in the place to create memorable moments. These are part of programming of the event. It can as simple as unique community group or a large float in a parade – the moment must be able to touch the audience. It is that WOW factor. Through the years, the festival or event must reinvent itself; the board should empower and enable the staff to make courageous decisions to develop purposeful moments. There is always the challenge to “Go Big or Go Home.”

When a festival, event, or organization creates a brand, it is a long term strategic approach in building the imaginative community. The delivery of a festival relies on the purpose, what is promised, its position, and the final attendee experience. The brand is important and needs to be strengthened throughout the event and the organization’s existence.

When strengthening a brand, it is always important to start with Simon Sinek wrote about – Start With Why. (Little did I realize how much influence this book would have when a board member first recommended it. ) Know “why” the festival is important and then determine how to shift the emphasis to that “why.” When positioning the brand, one must understand the stake holder and the audiences to help set the correct position within the community. It is critical to know:

• who is served.
• your role and who you are.
• what does your organization believe and why do you matter.
• what do you deliver.
• what do you value - What are your guiding principles.

The organization and its brand must be sustainable and adaptable. It should be alert so that surprises can be detected, and everyone understand the patterns of change. It must be flexible and adaptive to respond to surprises that will arise. It should be resilient so that it can survive negative issues. Finally, it is important to be creative so that is has the capacity to evolve.

This all relates to one of the three tenants of a good nonprofit - Duty of Care. ( I mentioned this in a previous blog of what makes a strong fundraising board. ) An organization must grow and constantly work to evolve and make unique experiences that excite and engage the attendees or those that are served. Most importantly, it must know why it exists – not just for its members or board, but for the community at large that it serves. If an organization does not evolve, it will wither away as those memorable moments become few and far between.

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