When it came to this years’ conference, our design and marketing team set out to differentiate our conference brand from previous years, think outside the box and spice things up. After all it was our 5th Users Conference, so why not?
Our Design Lead, Romeo Martinez put together a case study explaining the design process behind EN18. Below is an abbreviated verison, for the full article click the link at the bottom! Enjoy.
EN18 Design Case Study
Back in 2013, Employee Navigator put on its first Users Conference at the Omni Shoreham in Washington D.C. There were a total of 70 people in attendance. The event was designed to bring together Employee Navigator users and partners for three days of strategic sessions, product trainings and discussion panels.
Fast forward five years. 2018.
The Employee Navigator Conference is now averaging about 700 attendees, with 27,000 companies, representing roughly 3 million employees using us as their enrollment system. It has quickly become one of the largest Users Conferences in our industry. And let me tell you, insurance brokers like to party.
When I joined Employee Navigator in April of 2016, as the sole designer, the conference was entering it’s 3rd year. My new role in conjunction with the sales/marketing team, was to take on the responsibility of establishing the theme, art direction, and visual identity for the conference along with all the collateral that comes with it. There was no real rubric or standard design theme the past conferences had utilized, which meant I had free creative reign. So we got to work.
For both 2016 and 2017 the design remained fairly conservative when it came to the conference concepts, themes, and materials. For 2016 we made heavy use of our “e-compass” logo mark, background icon patterns, and other various themes we had incorporated either on our website or in our marketing materials. In 2017 we elaborated our design by using some images from our past conferences. We also lightened up our standard brand green color and used gradients(all the rage right now) & geometrical line pattern throughout to create depth.
When it came to this years’ conference, we set out to think outside the box and spice things up. After all it was our 5th Users Conference, so why not?
We knew we wanted this years’ conference to be distinguished from our past conferences. We wanted it to stand out, be vibrant, and fun. The first thing I did was to collect inspiration and start a moodboard. From the get-go, I was attracted to designs with bright colors, geometric shapes, lines, and overlapping patterns
The first change came with the conference name itself. We dropped “Users”from the title shortening it to just “Employee Navigator Conference.” We also wanted an abbreviation for it. We tossed around ENC2018, EN2018, ENUC, EN18. I began some initial roughs playing with different type treatments, fonts and symbols. I wanted to steer away from using our “e-compass” icon and the default text. I wanted something new.
At the same time I also began to collect colors and swatches that stuck out to me, hoping to refine it to a final palette. Now came the real fun. Knowing which concepts and designs I liked, it was time to throw together different roughs. I showed them around the office, got others involved, and was able to create new iterations, recycle, swap, and tweak my designs. I created mock ups of what potential marketing pieces would look like and what the banners and agenda booklets would resemble. These mock ups helped give us a clearer direction on what we liked and didn’t like.
The Final Result
After getting feedback from the sales team and other co-workers in the office, a final design was chosen.
EN18 Digital Assets
EN18 Conference requires a lot of items, from emails, to the website, physical handouts, agendas, banners, shirts, etc etc it was time to get. stuff. done.
One of the first endeavors I knew I had to embark on was the event site.
The theme & elements lent themselves well to the web design for the conference site. Throughout the page I made fun use of the shapes for images and also used large shapes & bright colors as backgrounds to break up the white space and any call to action buttons.
This year, I gave myself a personal project: to create an animated marketing video. The purpose? To bring the brand some life, some movement, and some sound! I am by no means an animation pro, but I do admire and enjoy animation design and this gave me a chance to teach myself something new. In my spare time I poured over countless youtube tutorials, obsessively studying videos that inspired me . After two months of equal parts dedication and procrastination the final result was this 28 second video. A 28 second video I am immensely proud of.
The final part of all of this, but perhaps the most important, was the environmental design and other physical assets for the conference space. We brainstormed about how to make the guests feel special, and the vendors appreciated inside the environment. There are some staple items that we go back to using each year, such as the large 7 feet by 3 feet foamcore boards for the Session Schedules, the program booklets, conference bags, t-shirts, poster boards, etc.
EN18 ultimately ran smoothly, on top of the all product design pieces I was also juggling, all the EN18 pieces came together great. We hit peak twitter and instagram engagements the week of our conference with our hashtag #EN18 and grew our following.
Looking back the process of creating and seeing my designs come to life was fun. Trying out a new, different approach for our users conference turned out to be an new and challenging opportunity to grow, learn and push our brand.
A few takeaways we had this year were:
- Make sure we set up and test the A/V needs a day before. We had some hiccups at the beginning of the day with the displays at the Omni Shoreham
- Set up all the banners, posters, and other collateral the evening before. People ended up showed up HOURS earlier than noted for pre registration. (Brokers love their insurance talks)
- Fill the dead air between sessions with some music, create a playlist for next year to keep a vibe going inbetween talks.
Now with this years conference over, I can catch my breath until 2019 when we shall begin scheming all over again for EN19!