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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 411 Debut: A Case Study in Branding 101

Just in case you missed it Monday night was the first official network gathering of South Bay event professionals. It is called The 411 and it is the brainchild of Nicole Lisanne Weddings & Events by Design. For many of us south of Palo Alto the shared sentiment is "It's about time!" As much as we love The City we also have a strong community here and feel our market is worthy of it's own organized networking events.

For me the evening hit a very high note because I definitely have branding on the brain. It all began last month when my good friend, Stacie Tamaki, from The Flirty Guide took some time away from her insanely busy schedule to help me re-brand. If you have not seen my new website, please check it out at imcevents.com.

I have learned many things from Stacie but among them is the importance of branding. We went to great lengths to get a specific color of green for my new look. It was an easy color to define by Pantone number but not that easy to print. My first run of 2,000 business cards had to be tossed because the green was just not the right green.

So last week when I did my first showcase of the year with Fanfare I got right into the swing of things with my new green look. Branding at the Stacie Tamaki level means finding green foiled Hershey's Kisses in a multi-colored variety Easter pack and then picking out only the green ones. Even Stacie had to admit that she was impressed with my green-to-the-point-of-envy efforts as you can see from my display.

As crazy as all this may sound it really makes a difference when you are branding your company with a color, graphic, slogan or anything else people will associate with you. At The 411 I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara Boyd who is a non-denominational wedding officiant. Barbara was curious about branding and asking me to share some of my experience on the subject. Our conversation segued into an introduction to someone named "Edith." At the very moment of introduction I flashed on my brief visit to the Bridal Expo on January 31 at the Santa Cruz Cocoanut Grove where I recall noticing a very classy cake exhibit. Three things struck me about this company which was a standout in the midst of a busy wedding show packed with vendors of all kinds.

1. Vivid Periwinkle Blue Color
2. Catch Phrase: "Understated Elegance"
3. The proprietor's first name, Edith

As soon as I was introduced to Edith I asked her if she had a cake company in Santa Cruz. She was blown away by my instant recognition of her exhibit. I was not surprised at all because Edith Meyer is not only a class act but also very skilled at branding. You have my word on it as well as a very real first hand story from The 411. And what better place to experience great branding than the launching of a brand new industry networking event.

My thanks goes out to Edith Meyer for setting such a great example of branding for all of us.

And for the record, I hear that her cakes are just as amazing as her marketing efforts so it is nice to know that Edith also walks the walk.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DJ & MC – Are They The Same Thing?

I have returned with a brand new look!

WHAT!?! You seldom see anyone with the "MC" tag following their name.

That's because it could be one of the least understood but biggest responsibilities at any event. Webster's definition of MC/Master of Ceremonies/emcee is "a person who directs the entertainment at a party, dinner, nightclub, radio or television broadcast, or the like, acting as host and introducing the speakers or performers."

Wow! It seems that person can really impact the successful (or not) outcome of an event. No wonder I have enjoyed orchestrating events for so long. I love the challenge of managing many variables that all combine in order create a well timed event that flows smoothly. It is a lot like massaging all the ingredients in a recipe to make the perfect dish.

So where does a DJ fit into this mix? Mixing music is what a great DJ brings to the party. It takes keen music knowledge, programming and technical mixing skills to become a proficient DJ. A great DJ is every bit as much "Live Entertainment" as a band because the selections are chosen on the spot. Any automated playback source such as an iPod is really what is considered canned music because it is pre-programmed even in the shuffle or random mode.

So can a DJ also be a great MC? It is possible but it takes a super multi-tasker who can really think on their feet. After many years of being a musical host at thousands of events I've realized that it was more often my direction than my music that really made the biggest difference. Therefore, I feel it is time to enlighten the world on what makes a great MC and how much he/she means to the success of events.

I love to tell stories which is one reason I like to blog. Recently I've been expanding my MC skills into the culinary world, fitness arena and other non-wedding areas. Get ready for lots of stories and maybe even a few recipes.

My new website is imcevents.com and I LOVE audience feedback. So please drop me a blog comment, e-mail or call 408.298.7710 anytime that one of my stories rings your bell, floats your boat or flips your switch.

-CM the MC