Naming a new conference or tradeshow is tricky business. I know - I’ve changed the name of one of our shows every year since the inaugural event - and probably broken every brand marketing rule in the book by doing so. Our 2008 event, the 4th Annual, will have it’s fourth rendition of the name in as many years.
On the one hand, it’s given bloggers in the industry a lot to talk about after every show and allowed us to focus more directly on the true nature of the industry each year. On the other hand, the event is known by a multitude of names - and variations of those names - no doubt causing confusion among attendees and exhibitors.
When launching a tradeshow for a brand new industry, that industry tends to change quite a bit in the first five years. It’s incredibly diffcult to nail the name the first time around when so much changes so quickly. Here’s the list of the names our show has had and why we changed each time:
1) Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference
We de-emphasized the word Podcasting the first year because very few people had even heard the term. The iPod was the hottest gadget around and we thought the direction of the show in the future would be about creating media for portable devices
2) Podcast and Portable Media Expo
Podcasting was now a more recognizable term and it was a hot topic for companies looking to get on board
3) Podcast and New Media Expo
We realized people weren’t creating content just for portable devices like iPods and MP3 players, but creating content for the web and allowing their audience to consume it wherever they wanted. Time to de-emphasize the “portable” aspect of the event.
4) New Media Expo
Podcasting and New Media has become redundant - a bit like having a “Book and Publishing Expo” so time to drop the podcasting term and go with the term that covers all aspects of online content. We were also getting pidgeon-holed into the reputation of being just for hobbyist podcasters and not serious business content creation.
In order to avoid this name jumping altogether, consider a more generic name that alludes to your subject matter. The “E for All” show is a great example. No mention of gaming in the name, yet it’s the primary focus. But it also allows the show to grow in various ways they may not see at the moment without having to change the name down the road.
10 years ago, a frequent name change may not have mattered too much. But in an era where everything is “tagged” with terms - photos, videos, blog posts and articles, it may become difficult for attendees and exhibitors/sponsors to find content on your show if they are searching for an old term. Recent photos and blog posts about our show may be tagged with the term “Podcast Expo” and yet the current name is “New Media Expo.” An interested person searching for Flickr.com photos of our shows may not find them easily when they are tagged with old names.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have taken the “E for All” approach and named the event something that is both easily put into an acronym (”Are you going to SEMA this year?”) and something that would allow me to take the show in different directions without having to change the name.
Give yourself that flexibility and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.
Tim Bourquin, http://www.TradeshowStartup.com