On the face of it, planning an event may seem fairly straightforward to the uninitiated. Find a suitable venue, get in caterers, some entertainment, work to a budget, and invite the guests. Et voila! A successful function.

Not so fast. Planning a really razzmatazz event that runs like clockwork and leaves a lasting impression with attendees requires a lot more than a few simple phone calls. Think of driving a team of six wild horses over a mountain, and you might get a better picture the nail-biting challenge and final death-defying dash to the finish. Planning an event can be fun and exhilarating and can draw on all your creative energy – but design and attention to details are fundamental to the success of your venture.

Purpose is where you start

You’ll definitely need to know how many are invited, and budgetary constraint. Then you can begin to devise theme and design. What is the purpose of the event? What ‘takeaway’ do you want for your attendees? Is it an awards ceremony? Or a client get-together as a thank you for their continued support? A new product launch? Whatever the purpose, this will drive your design.

Type of event

You need to know from the get-go what kind of event this might be – a black-tie dinner, an intimate cocktail setting, a sports day, a convention with several speakers on valuable topics, or a charity event, etc. Does your gathering include guests or only members of company staff? Every one of these different scenarios will determine your design strategy.

Be realistic about your budget

No matter how grand you would like to be, don’t shoot for the moon when you only have enough to get to the launchpad. Every event carries within it scope for imagination. You can achieve extraordinary things on a small budget, but you will need to be canny and extremely creative, while still leaving an element of surprise for your guests.

Working a theme

Is your event going to be bold, noisy and colourful? Or low-key and sophisticated with a subtle eye on the ‘wow’ factor? Will guests participate or remain a captured audience in the thrall of a renowned speaker? Will you work to connect your theme more personally with guests through brochures, gifts, décor, and the unexpected? Design and theme should be memorable, creating surprise and applause. Be original, couch your message in unexpected delivery. Surprise is your best element for getting a message across and ensuring it has memorable impact.


This is a key choice that may consume the bulk of your budget if you’re not careful. The size of your audience is going to dictate much of your decision-making here. With the venue comes the catering bill, the seating arrangements, the sound equipment, security and entertainment facilities. It’s no good trying to fit in a dance floor if there’s no room for the band. Investigate availability, lecture facilities, décor, parking, and levels of service.

Marketing and advertising

Developing hype is important. Clever, timely marketing should hint at what lies in store, generating excitement but leaving everyone keen to learn more. Then of course, you need to be sure to deliver on what you have promised. Invitations, PR, social media, emails. Let your advertising reflect the event’s theme, heightening expectations. Whether a small classy gathering or major expo, this is the time to light up the trail.


Communications are not only a part of your marketing considerations, but also include all interactions with staff and stakeholders. Date, Venue, Time, Dress, etc. Designing the presentation of your theme should be carefully planned well ahead of time so there’s no confusion as to what the final ‘look and feel’ will be. Get your key people working together early in the designing process; when crunch time comes, or an emergency, you must be able to work seamlessly as a team.

The ultimate design

  • The key point of your design strategy is corporate identity and communication. From the moment guests arrive, they should be under no illusion as to who is hosting this event – your company logo, colours, and communications such as: banners, posters, digital signage, flyers, brochures, gifts, etc, should be synced and clearly present.
  • Your event design is often a time-table of perfect moments. The entry of guests, the introduction, speakers, a slide show, a launch moment, audience participation, question time, closing statements, an after party, and post-event follow-ups, etc.
  • Design should be about appearance, experience, information – and how your guests will feel. Once you have them there, captive as it were, this is the time to bring on the bands and the balloons: the speaker that will knock their socks off, an entertainment that will truly impress, a product that will awe and excite.
  • Think of Steve Jobs and the introduction of the Apple iPad; who can forget it? A simple black background, a driving speech – and then there it was, hardly visible it was so beautiful – and for the audience an empowering sense of a life-changing moment – a moment carefully designed to have the greatest impact.

What we do at Out of the Blue!

Everything about the design of your event is about communication. Come and talk to us. We’re in that edgy business of surprise called marketing. At Out of the Blue Creative Communication Solutions we work with clients to build communications that do better business through concepts that are smart and relevant.

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