Tag Archives: branding

Case study: Some interesting stuff from the DLD Conference 2012

Founded in 2005 by the German media house Hubert Burda Media, the Digital – Life – Design conference DLD has been established as one of the major crossover conferences that span a wide range of topics. It is clearly inspired by the success of the TED conferences, although DLD is much more on the commercial side.

DLD has become a benchmark event brand with substantial PR impact – so let’s take a look at some of the particularities of the event that may be inspiring for other conference organizers!

The latest edition of the conference took place in Munich/Germany, 22-24 January.


You can’t just purchase tickets for the 3-day conference. On the website, you apply for a ticket, and when the organizers think you’re fit, you still have to pay 2.750 EUR plus VAT to get your badge. Quite a strict policy, but it contributes to the overall feeling of taking part in something really special.

Strategic Partners

Being a media house with lots of glossy publications and websites, Hubert Burda Media is obviously searching for new business models. This conference is one of them. It gives strategic partners like Audi, Microsoft, HP, Siemens, Lufthansa, Telefonica and Booz a presentation platform, and since the topics are quite broad, there is always a chance to give the CEOs of those strategic partners a speaker slot.

This may be a risky strategy from a curators standpoint, because buying yourself into the program of such a conference can backfire both on the sponsor and the organizers. There is a very thin line between a sales pitch and a useful contribution. Yet, when you combine various media outlets with a real-life event, you can create attractive packages for a strategic partner or sponsor.

Speakers / Curation

DLD is not a vertical event, it covers a whole range of topics. Let me refer back to what I said in my post about TEDx RheinMain: A good choice of speakers, with the “big names” as well as great performers on board, does the trick. I also recommend to read this interesting post by Gianfranco Chicco about how to find great speakers. One of the success factors of DLD is the date: Just before the World Economic Forum, they manage to intercept high profile speakers on their way to Davos.

DLD goes public

This is really a good idea. When you have such high profile speakers attending your event, why don’t you use that leverage to take your event brand out and go public? DLD brought the founder of Skype to Munich university, and thus achieved a great branding effect with students – the audience of the future. This is something that associations and conference organizers should really consider doing, because it won’t cost you much, the speaker is already there and you can only benefit from it.

Video interviews

I strongly believe that conferences of relevance need to have a rich media strategy in place. DLD has a great Youtube channel with lots of interviews, trailers, they even did a live-streaming. TED does the same. Will that reduce the number of people wanting to attend your event in person? I do not think so. Broadcasting your event contributes to the relevance, to the “must attend” factor.

DLD Connect: Digital Directory

Such an event needs to offer a lot of attractive digital offerings, and Hubert Burda uses their own channels as well as partners to create digital event platforms. Ranging from

With so many offerings, it is important to let the audience know what is there and where to find it. Something as simple as the DLD Digital Directory helps to keep track.

Bottomline: DLD is a commercial event, unlike TED. It is about value generation for the partners and sponsors, and ultimately about business networking on a high level for the attendees. Hubert Burda Media have done a great job at establishing a prestigious event brand, and that makes this case study worth taking a closer look at.

Innovative event concepts: Case study WIT Conference, Singapore

At the recent ICCA Congress in Leipzig, I attended an excellent session about “New ways to approach brand-building in the meetings business“. The session was very inspiring, and I came across the case of the WIT Conference in Singapore, an event targeting the travel industry.

Great stuff!!

Not only have they managed to establish a unique brand, but they also use social media and digital marketing in an outstandingly creative and compelling way. Just take a look at one of the mind-blowing promotional videos for WIT 2011 to get an idea:

WIT is a great example how you can run a conference in a collaborative, participative fashion, be attractive to Generation Y and build a brand that benefits from the web’s inherent strengths.

Now, it’s always more interesting to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. I was lucky enough that Yeoh Siew Hoon, the personality, inventor and driver behind the concept, agreed to do an interview about the philosophy and the development of WIT.

  • Q: Launched in 2005, WIT Singapore is still quite a young conference. Can you explain the concept behind this event and how it has been developing over the last years?

The annual WIT (Web In Travel) Conference started in 2005 as an event to focus thought, debate and personality around the subject of travel distribution, marketing and technology.  We knew the travel industry was changing and that this space would have a Yeoh Siew Hoon WIT Conference Singaporebig influence on how the industry would take shape in the future, and we wanted to play a role in enabling that change and empowering the travel community in Asia Pacific.

So we decided to organise an event that would be different from other travel conferences – where content would be carefully curated and speakers briefed to share ideas and insights only and to stay away from sales pitches.

Ultimately, we wanted to foster collaboration and the open exchange of ideas, insights and opinions – a conference with personality, point of view and purpose.

In 2008, Messe Berlin approached us to be the conference partner of its inaugural trade show, ITB Asia, in Singapore. Apart from running its own conference, WIT also curated content for ITB Asia and runs the Clinics at its exhibition.

Our event has grown from 160 delegates in 2005 to over 500 in 2011. Beyond the numbers, WIT has also grown in scope.

From a two-day annual conference in 2005, the WIT brand now comprises:

  • WIT feed – ongoing news, commentary, opinion pieces
  • WIT Social MediaFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo. Its Facebook community has grown from under 1,000 in 2010 to over 6,000 in 2011.
  • WITNext – Inspiring Young Minds, an inspiration and mentoring initiative aimed at young talent and entrepreneurs, a website and series of “live” events in Singapore, Bangkok and Australia
  • World Wide WIT – the first WIT Australia was held in Sydney in June 2011
  • WIT Bootcamp – a one-day event aimed at encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, held just before the annual WIT Conference

  • Q: With almost 2000 Twitter followers and over 6.300 Facebook fans, social media seem to be playing a big role in your marketing. How do you see the importance of social media for your event and how will it develop in the future?

Web In Travel would not be where it is without the web and lately, social media. Media, like conferences, are all about content and community. Social media allows you to form communities around curated content. It allows us to have continuous engagement with our community throughout the year so that by the time they get to the conference, they are ready for the live experience.

This year, we had 30% first-time delegates to WIT and I can honestly say they came through word of mouth, either spread through social media or networks.

I don’t see social media as a separate part of the business and thus something to develop a strategy around. I think it’s more about being a social business versus a business that happens to use social media for profitability. That means thinking and being social in every aspect of your business.

With a conference, it’s about collaborating with your customers on the content. With a media business, it’s about enabling your “fans” to have a say and share their views. It’s about daring to surrender your business to a social force, but with a firm steady hand at the wheel.

  • Q: When it comes to branding, you do a remarkable job at positioning WIT as an “extraordinary” event. What are your future plans regarding the WIT brand expansion?

If WIT is extraordinary, it is because of the extraordinary support of its fans. They like our Personality, Point of View and Purpose, and so we have people who are saying good things about us out there. And therefore the expansion of the brand will be dependent on the opportunities that are created by individuals who love what we do and believe in what we do. Let’s say the expansion will be people-driven rather than brand-driven.

We have champions in the UK, Japan, Australia and Indonesia who want to bring the WIT ethos of “creating cutting edge content and social experiences” to their markets. We will see how that develops.

  • Q: Where do you get all the inspiration to constantly push the boundaries and re-invent your event?

Curiosity, empathy and listening and I suppose, a mad desire to always do better.

Incredible 3D mapping technology: Makes your event or trade show really stand out!

It is breathtaking what you can do with this kind of technology. See the movie below to have your mind blown or click here for more examples. Image that at your next big congress or trade show. That’d be cool, right?

It goes without saying that this would be a viral marketing push for your event like crazy. Integrate a sponsor, and it might even become affordable.

I attended a seminar at Confex in London, where Ben Fender from London-based Drive Productions showed some of their 3D Mapping work for corporate events by Bently or Ralph Lauren. Amazing stuff. When asked about the price range, he said 100.000 Pounds upwards… Such installations also require quite some lead time (scanning, approvals, check of light situations etc.).

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Es ist atemberaubend, was man mit dieser Technologie machen kann. Schaut Euch den Film weiter unten an, unglaublich, oder? Hier findet Ihr weitere Beispiele. Stellt Euch die Technik mal im Einsatz bei Eurem nächsten Kongress oder Messe vor. Ziemlich lässig, nicht wahr?

Das wäre ein Viral Marketing Push für Eure Veranstaltung, der sich gewaschen hat. Wenn man einen Sponsor einbaut, könnte es sogar bezahlbar werden.

Kürzlich auf einem Seminar in London hört ich Ben Fender von der Londoner Agentur Drive Production. Sie machen tolle 3D Mapping Sachen für Firmen-Events, u.a. Bentley oder Ralph Lauren. Jemand fragte ihn nach der Preis-Kategorie: Ab 100.000 Pfund geht’s los… Solche Installationen brauchen auch eine ordentliche Vorbereitungszeit (Genehmigungen, Scanning, Check der Lichtverhältnisse etc.).

Here’s an example how you can use it on a smaller scale. The TED Conference implemented it at an Innovation Lounge.

Branding of international trade show clones: Example of ad:tech

A lot of organizers are seeking to expand their established trade show brands to other international markets. This is quite a common growth strategy. You see differing opinions, however, on the question if you should use your established trade show or conference brand for those extensions or introduce a different title. There are pros and cons for either way, and this is a really interesting discussion from a business development standpoint.

Basically, you have three options

  • Use one single brand for all international events (to benefit from the brand equity)
  • Create a new brand (devensive strategy aimed at not harming the established brand)
  • Create a new brand, but use a by-line like “Powered by XY” to refer to the established brand

The organizers of ad:tech are clearly following the path of penetrating one single and consistent brand for their international events.What is your opinion on this?


Viele Veranstalter versuchen, ihre etablierten Messe-Marken in andere internationale Märkte zu exportieren. Dies ist eine recht verbreitete Wachstums-Strategie. Es gibt allerdings stark unterschiedliche Meinungen darüber, ob man hierfür die etablierte Messe- oder Konferenz-Marke verwenden oder aber einen anderen Veranstaltungstitel einführen sollte. Es gibt Vor- und Nachteile für beide Wege, und es handelt sich hierbei um eine sehr interessante Diskussion vom Standpunkt der Geschäftsentwicklung her.

Grundsätzlich gibt es drei Möglichkeiten

  • Eine Marke für alle internationalen Events zu verwenden und somit von der Markenstärke zu profitieren
  • Eine ganz andere Marke zu etablieren (eine eher defensive Strategie, die Schaden an der etablierten Marke vermeiden möchte)
  • Eine andere Marke einführen, aber einen Zusatz wie “Powered by XY” verwenden, um auf die etablierte Veranstaltungsmarke hinzuweisen.

Die Veranstalter der ad:tech gehen ganz klar den Weg, eine einzige konsistente Marke für alle internationalen Veranstaltungen zu verwenden.Was meint Ihr zu diesem Thema?