Conference and Expo Naming

MosconeConventionNameA long time ago I realized how big the trade show conference and event marketing place was when I discovered there were at least two trade shows just on trade shows. And being a naming professional I am always struck by name styles in any industry – which means the convention business is enough to make me pull my hair out!

Why do they all have to have such long descriptive names? Many of them have longer names than government agency names – and those are often terrible and usually get abbreviated. Yes, you may want to call it the National Annual Urological Conference if you represent the National Society of Urologists – and you know who they all are and they will come anyway. But how long before they are saying “Are you going to NAUC this year? And you look at them with a blank face because you are an equipment vendor and thought he said Naught!

I attribute most of these rotten and boring conference names to short sightedness in both planning for longer term and in planning for audience and message reach. Creators are so often just focused, focused, focused on their own event, they forget they live in the ocean of events and the public has many choices. Do you know Wikipedia has pages of listing of gaming conventions? But which ones do all the gamers remember?  E3 – where the long Electronic Entertainment Expo makes for a catchy expression and Comicon, where the abbreviation becomes a new word that can be trademarked, protected and easily branded.

The same basic rules apply to all conferences across all industries. If you must have a long name, make sure the initials are a new word that people can latch onto – like NAB for the National Association of Broadcasters. Or name the conference and use the long expression as your tagline – which can even change each year or have the year in the tagline and not the name (makes it much easier to find on the internet). For example in software: Open World is the name of the big Oracle Annual Developers Conference. Or DreamForce is a great parent brand tie in for the SalesForce Annual Convention.

namign sports conferencesThe same idea applies across sports, entertainment and all other industries as well. How much cooler is it to ask if your kid or prodigy is going to Lightning this year, instead of the Florida High School Hockey Association Conference?

Finally, do your due diligence before picking a name for your special conference so you don’t have a competitor’s intellectual property rights lawyer calling. There are many, many names already in use and they all have at least common law legal rights. You are better off starting with an assumption that all the common obvious names are taken.

In fact, many of them are already registered trademarks. And like all trademarks, they don’t have to be the same, just confusingly similar. So Monterey Jazz Festival® is properly written with the ® as it is a registered trademark. As an event it is trademarked under International Class 41, but many of these also produce products, souvenirs, clothing, etc so the name may be protected much further. Regardless, run the other way just like we had to advise a client once trying to name a movie festival. Yes, the town name was tied up already, even though none of us could recall it from personal memory.

PS Do realize the difficulties of long English names for foreign language speaking visitors too.

PPS New to exhibiting at trade shows and looking for a proven check list to get you started? See my Spreadsheet Marketing for a quick, low cost download template to get started.

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