Do you have any advice for a company having a hard time choosing a theme? Is a theme necessary?

Do you have any advice for a company having a hard time choosing a theme? Is a theme necessary?
Choosing a theme for your event just for the sake of having a theme can overshadow the goal or message of the event. Event profs weigh in on what to consider when deciding on a theme.

While having a traditional “theme” is not always necessary, it’s good to have a consistent message throughout the event.

If you have a hard time choosing a theme, think about what you hope to achieve with this event. Who is attending the event? What is the overall message you want the attendees to walk away with? While having a traditional “theme” is not always necessary, it’s good to have a consistent message throughout the event. A strong, clear theme will give your event structure and inspire attendees with your message.

"While having a traditional “theme” is not always necessary, it’s good to have a consistent message throughout the event." @echelon_eventsg Click to Tweet

Dorie Beacham

VP of Sales

Echelon Events Group, Las Vegas, NV

If a theme can enhance the goal or the event experience for the guest than certainly pick a theme.

Focus on the event goal first. If a theme can enhance the goal or the event experience for the guest than certainly pick a theme. Having a theme can allow us to be more creative and suggest entertainment, colors, music, a menu, and experiences all focused on the theme. It gives us the opportunity to create a fabulous event experience for their guests. So while it isn’t necessary to have a theme, we like it for creative purposes.

If clients are having a hard time selecting a theme, we explain that their theme can just be a suggestion and be used as a platform to make decisions. So perhaps the season the event is held in becomes the theme and platform we use to make choices. In spring the color palette is different than in the fall and that alone can give us something to use to make design decisions.

Another option for clients having a hard time settling on a theme, is to suggest the company or non-profit cause be the focus. So if they raise funds for children, then focus on the children and the mission statement. Or perhaps use their corporate colors as the focus. Whatever is the final focus, it is important to string that through all event elements.

"If a theme can enhance the goal or the event experience for the guest than certainly pick a theme." @hidartist Click to Tweet

Heidi Hiller

Owner | Creative Director

Innovative Party Planners, Baltimore, Maryland

A theme can be fun and it can drive the creative and design process, but we tell our clients that it isn’t necessary when creating a successful event.

A theme can be fun and it can drive the creative and design process, but we tell our clients that it isn’t necessary when creating a successful event. I always say you can never go wrong with a theme of elegance. That being said, we steer our clients to themes that are purposeful. We analyze why and how it would pertain to their mandate and objectives so there is a meaningful connection between the two.

"A theme can be fun and it can drive the creative and design process, but we tell our clients that it isn’t necessary when creating a successful event." Click to Tweet

Jeffry Roick

Director

McNabb Roick Events,

A theme does provide an anchor but we can equally produce an exceptional event without one.

A theme is absolutely non-essential. We often create a “concept” or work with a brand colour scheme. A theme does provide an anchor but we can equally produce an exceptional event without one.

"A theme does provide an anchor but we can equally produce an exceptional event without one." @Total_ca Click to Tweet

Lorne Levitt

CEO / Lead Event Designer

Total Events, Montreal, Quebec

Everything should start with brainstorming sessions and see what words come up over and over as you talk about the company and its goals.

If you want to draw attention and have them remember your event and why you hosted it, whether employees or clients, you need to tell a story and every story has a title. That title is your theme.

Everything should start with brainstorming sessions and see what words come up over and over as you talk about the company and its goals. For example, “ignite” has been a popular one for sales meetings in the past and “we are one” for other conferences where companies want to really unite their teams together.

If you have a message to pass I think it’s so important. You don’t do a convention just to do it. Why are you hosting your meeting? That purpose, whatever it is, always comes down to making sure people remember WHY they were there and, when done right, you can surf on the wave of that event for the next six months or a year.

"Everything should start with brainstorming sessions and see what words come up over and over as you talk about the company and its goals." Click to Tweet

Valerie Bihet

Director

VIBE, Miami, FL

We’ll either develop the client’s tagline and event branding, or lift off an existing campaign, but anything we do around theming always connects back to the client’s creative and brand.

To us, a theme is more about storytelling and the client’s brand. We’ll either develop the client’s tagline and event branding, or lift off an existing campaign, but anything we do around theming always connects back to the client’s creative and brand.

For instance, for a recent Dell partner event, creative was built around a message of Real Transformation and ‘Defying Gravity’. With that as the theme, we created customized immersive activations. A ‘Gravity’ photo booth that made participants appear that they were floating in space, and for their sustainability initiative, a smoothie blender bike photo opp. This was all augmented with graphics and signage throughout the event that delivered the campaign message.

"We’ll either develop the client’s tagline and event branding, or lift-off an existing campaign, but anything we do around theming always connects back to the client’s creative and brand." @TKEventsInc Click to Tweet

Trish Knox

Owner/President

TK Events Inc, Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Having a theme isn't always necessary when planning a corporate event, however there must be a GOAL as to what the client is hoping to gain from the event.

Having a theme isn’t always necessary when planning a corporate event, however, there must be a GOAL as to what the client is hoping to gain from the event. My job as a corporate event planner is to ensure that GOAL is accomplished within the budget of my client.

The majority of my clients come from personal referrals, networking or from Facebook. When I meet with a potential client, we have a consultation so that I can deliver the corporate event need and help them make their vision come to life. If they need help with that vision, I can give suggestions that I feel would best support their guests to meet my client’s goal.

"Having a theme isn't always necessary when planning a corporate event, however there must be a GOAL as to what the client is hoping to gain from the event." Click to Tweet

Kristi Opris

Owner/Manager

Above and Beyond Corporate Events, Mesa, AZ

While we love themes here at We Crush (we have 50+ pages of mood boards to prove it) we don’t think it’s necessary for all events.

While we love themes here at We Crush (we have 50+ pages of mood boards to prove it) we don’t think it’s necessary for all events. It can be a great way to take an event from ordinary to extraordinary but there are definitely do’s & don’ts to be mindful of.

Sometimes a theme (especially one that’s very specific) can pigeon hole you in one direction, limiting the options you have for entertainment and decor.

Another thing to avoid is sensory overload. If you have a super cool venue that already comes with all the bells & whistles then you might not want to outshine it. For example, an arcade or a theme park both have so many things to see & do that a theme may get lost and not have as great of an impact.

Ultimately, a theme can be a great way to take things up a notch when used wisely.

"While we love themes here at We Crush (we have 50+ pages of mood boards to prove it) we don’t think it’s necessary for all events." @WeCrushEvents Click to Tweet

Jessica Cheney

CEO

We Crush Events, Los Angeles, CA

You can use an imaginative idea or a group of words to create a theme.

Don’t get too overwhelmed with the theme. Find verbs & adjectives that your client uses to discuss how they want their event to feel. What are some aesthetics that the clients like or are interested in that can help to narrow your vision when providing design & decor services? It’s our job to try and dissect what our clients are trying to say & create a vision that is collaborative with their ideas.

Other tips would be to ask what they like & do not like. Are there any special themes your clients appreciate? Perhaps you can tie in with a surrounding Holiday to give it some grounding to a current trend. Themes do not have to be all out that theme. You can use an imaginative idea or a group of words to create a theme.

"You can use an imaginative idea or a group of words to create a theme." Click to Tweet
Daniel Davisson

Daniel Davisson

CEO and Lead Production Designer

Davisson Entertainment, Phoenix, AZ

While a theme isn't always necessary, consistent branding is.

While a theme isn’t always necessary, consistent branding is. With experiential strategy, I take a deep dive into an organization’s brand assets, mission statement, brand pillars, and key partners to identify opportunities to have the branding subtly permeate the event. I call this “The 5 Senses of Your Brand.”

If you are looking for a certain theme, an analysis like this is a great place to start. You want to make sure your attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, partners, and members all understand the theme’s relation to your overall goals and objectives, and not just select a theme because it sounds like it would make for a great photo opportunity.

"While a theme isn't always necessary, consistent branding is." Click to Tweet

Beth Lawrence

CEO

Beth Lawrence Meetings & Events, Philadelphia, PA

Themes can be useful for building a brand but they can also be limiting.

I once heard the advice ‘Go where the love is’ when building your business and I think it’s a really important principle to bear in mind. The ‘love’ is what YOU love doing. Do you plan weddings? Great. Focus on wedding planning. Do love variety and making every event different? Awesome – make your flexible approach your USP.

Themes can be useful for building a brand but they can also be limiting. I would only use one if I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to sell.

"Themes can be useful for building a brand but they can also be limiting." Click to Tweet
Venetia Harpin

Venetia Harpin

Immersive Event Producer

Los Angeles, CA

I take a step back and look at what the overall goal is for the event.

This is such a popular question. I take a step back and look at what the overall goal is for the event. Is there a message the company is looking to express, a motto? What is the company looking towards in the future… sales, marketing? With this, we can fabricate a custom theme that goes along with the meeting.

Do we have to have a theme? No, not at all. Some feel it is necessary… to fall back on to the standards – “Speak Easy” – “decades” 70s, 80s, Luau… but it’s not. If you have exasperated themes… or perhaps it’s just not comfortable for people to dress in “theme”, you can do just a color theme… red party or maybe a Black and White Ball… classic and easy to create with decor and lighting.

"I take a step back and look at what the overall goal is for the event." Click to Tweet

David Twigger

Creative Director/Founder

Vermilion Events, Phoenix, AZ

A theme can be very powerful if strategically created and developed fully throughout the event.

A theme can be very powerful if strategically created and developed fully throughout the event. The theme will help connect stakeholders to the event’s purpose and their role in it. As a result, the content and experience will be more memorable, and the effects longer-lasting.

However, a theme is certainly not a prerequisite for a successful event, and when forced, a theme can actually have a counterproductive effect. All events – and all organizational event hosts – are different, so the decision on whether or not to have a theme must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Will a theme further the core goals of the event? If the answer is yes, designing one makes sense.

"A theme can be very powerful if strategically created and developed fully throughout the event." @detailedheather Click to Tweet

Heather Herrig

President/Chief Event Strategist

Every Last Detail, Atlanta, GA

They do not have to be over the top themes, but the client and I need to agree upon the ultimate design aesthetic or else things will begin to get away from us.

Themes are necessary! They do not have to be over the top themes, but the client and I need to agree upon the ultimate design aesthetic or else things will begin to get away from us. So the theme could be Disney or it could just be neutral and calming colors, as long as we aren’t trying to smash the two together? It allows for consistency, efficiency in design, and cohesiveness.

Most importantly, it allows the client to feel involved and important by having them decide on a theme. They could come to you with only keywords, but if you guide them to a theme that matches their keywords, your client will feel as though they arrived at the destination first, which helps them feel confident in the design decisions.

"They do not have to be over the top themes, but the client and I need to agree upon the ultimate design aesthetic or else things will begin to get away from us." Click to Tweet
Mary Davisson

Mary Davisson

Owner/Lead Coordinator

Details Wedding and Event Planning, Phoenix, AZ

If you’re relying on a theme to make your event a success each year, then you’re not really getting deep enough into the purpose of the event.

The way I see it, themes are crutches for an event. If you’re relying on a theme to make your event a success each year, then you’re not really getting deep enough into the purpose of the event.

Organizations have brands and identities that should be reflected in everything it does, including events. Obviously, you need a “show look” and brand standards (maybe a tagline to help your comms/marketing team with promotion) but this should come naturally from the parent brand. Events should promote the connection between attendee and organization, not attendee and event.

"If you’re relying on a theme to make your event a success each year, then you’re not really getting deep enough into the purpose of the event." Click to Tweet

Amaia Stecker

Managing Partner, Events and Fundraising

Pilar & Co.,

Themes actually make planning an event easier, because they provide structure.

Themes actually make planning an event easier, because they provide structure.  The best themes can be interpreted throughout an event in the décor, menu, and entertainment.  Ideas for themes can be found everywhere:

  • TV shows and movies
  • Books – recent and classic
  • Countries
  • Fashion
  • Colours
  • Museums and art
  • Music & musicians
  • Dreams

I was inspired to produce an 18th-century French theme when visiting a Madame de Pompadour exhibition at a museum in London.  We called it “Pompadour & Circumstance”, hung crystal chandeliers from Home Depot over every one of the 68 dining tables, and lowered them while the orchestra played Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance.

Some of my favourite themes have included:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Beatles
  • Venetian Carnival
  • 1,001 Arabian Nights
  • Picasso
  • On the Wild Side
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Russian Romance
  • Hollywood
  • Frostbite
  • Bastille Day
  • Mardi Gras
  • The Opera Ball
"Themes actually make planning an event easier, because they provide structure." @alisonsilcoff Click to Tweet

Alison Silcoff

President

Alison Silcoff Events, Montreal, Quebec