Lead With Your Vision, Not Your Brand

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks


Last month, we held an event I’m truly proud of — The Content Experience. It was our second annual content marketing conference and the first under this new name.

When we launched the event in 2016, we called it “The Uberflip Experience.” I feel a bit sheepish, even now, for putting our brand right there in the title. Sure, it was our event. We hosted and produced it. But the event was never about us. Our goal from the event’s inception was thought leadership. We were creating a movement and aiming to educate our audience on this vision of how amazing content experiences fuel the entire buyer’s journey. Yet, we had put our brand in the name of the event!

So 130 days before the event (and much to the chagrin of my marketing team), I decided to ditch the name.

It’s Not About You, It’s About Them

Why did we do this? Simple. It’s not about Uberflip. The goal was never to pitch our products, project a demo on the big screen, or cram the hard sell down our attendees’ throats.

Firstly, that’s not our style. But more importantly, it wasn’t in line with our vision. We’re trying to create a movement, to spark ideas, be thought leaders, and build trust and community. We’re trying to get people excited about the content experience; not us, the content experience platform, but about why the content experience matters.

Putting our brand (and keeping our brand) in the event name gave the wrong impression. This was made clear to me at our Uberflip Experience Roadshow event in Atlanta earlier this year when an attendee asked me while I was emceeing the event when we would be doing an on-stage demo. Despite our efforts to curate thought leadership content about trending topics like ABM, with phenomenal speakers like Sangram Vajre there was still an expectation of a demo. Perhaps because our brand was right there in the event name.

The Power of a Name

We forget sometimes how powerful a name is. Putting your brand front and center sets up the audience expectation that you and your brand are the focus. They’re attending to learn about you. Who knows how many other people in the room were waiting for a product pitch? And how many others didn’t attend at all because they were turned off before they even clicked through to the agenda?

Nonetheless, the seed was planted in my mind. A name change was necessary. Not only for the reasons I now felt, but because after reaching out to other founders and marketers, I received the social proof:

The good news for us was that our event was always aligned with our vision, so the only thing that needed to change was the name (or so I thought).

When Renaming Means Rebranding

We set forth to lead with our vision — the content experience. But we didn’t just change the name, we underwent a total rebrand for this event. We wanted a standalone event brand. This was an immersive experience where ideas could be sparked, new business relationships ignited, with our event The Content Experience as the catalyst. To their credit, my marketing team ran with the vision and built a brand that garnered us a lot of attention. Take a peek for yourself.

The response knocked our socks off. Not only were attendees pleased with the experience, but they went so far as to share how much they loved our event branding in person and in the mobile app. We now know that changing our name and our event branding yielded fantastic results. And while it’s difficult to attribute all of our big wins to the rebrand, seeing such dramatic success in year two makes me confident that our audience bought into our vision, and that changing our event name to reflect that vision was the right call.

Here are just a few of our successes:

  • The Content Experience sold out a full two weeks prior to the event
  • We doubled our attendance for this year’s event
  • The vision was so strong that attendees who missed out on the full conference pass bought overflow tickets to watch the event in a live stream room on-site
  • Based on email open rate, we saw a greater level of interest in the event compared to last year
  • The Content Experience was compared to much larger and established events such as Inbound — a huge compliment!
  • Just days after the event was over, attendees purchased tickets to the 2018 edition

Beyond these things, I knew we had successfully done what we set out to when I received a message in our event’s mobile app from an attendee who wanted to thank me and our amazing team for putting on a great conference but still had questions about what Uberflip does.

How can that be a success? Because she bought into our vision enough to reach out to me. Our event had compelled her to learn more.

Benching Your Brand

Going through this experience validated my initial thoughts. And I’m glad we took the brand out of the equation, led with our vision, and let the name reflect what our event is really about.

In fact, I’m so convinced I’ve challenged my team to continue spreading our mission by securing a venue that’s double the capacity!

From this somewhat obvious, yet hard-learned lesson, my advice is simple. Don’t be afraid to put your brand second. It’s not a compromise, it’s the way forward. But if you align your event name with your brand’s vision, people will buy into your reason for being — which is so much stronger than your brand.

See what you missed at The Content Experience with our Gigantic Wrap-Up article and photo gallery. 


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