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Home > Haunter's Lbrary > Marketing, Revenue & Ticket Sales > Branding for Success

Branding for Success: Choosing a "Killer" Name for Your Event
By Ryan E. Pluta

You have just completed the process of developing a business plan for a new Haunted Attraction in your area, and now you are ready to make the long-awaited introduction to the press and potential customers. You are confident, not only in the success of the opening year, but also for the attraction's long term prospects. One of the first things a potential customer will find out about your business is the name of the event. This name, along with the storyline and logo of your event is known as "Branding" and provides customers a hint of the quality, originality and creativity of your production. Often overlooked, branding is one of the most important elements for the success of any business, and even more so, the Haunted Attraction! Before you open the doors to the public, taking the steps necessary to creatively brand your event will help to insure the long-term success of your Haunted event.

Generally people think of a brand as a name such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, Budweiser, and countless others, but a brand is more than just a name or product line. A brand is the public's perception and overall image of a company. When you consider the successful Haunted Attractions in the country, what is it that makes them successful? What public image do they portray, and what easily recognizable name do they have? Most Haunters are highly experienced in the creation and implementation of the attraction itself, but too often leave the marketing and promotion of the event to an "If I get to it'" status.

The marketing of your event is at least as important as the attractions themselves, and great branding makes marketing easier. When considering the name of your event, one important step is to conduct research within your market and potential customers to see what strikes a cord with your base. Remember however, that when choosing the name for your attraction, that the name must not only fit today's society or be "what's hot now," but must also be appropriate for the future.

When faced with the task of creating a successful brand for your Haunted event, there are many aspects to consider, and several pitfalls that you must avoid. In many ways, people relate to brands in the same way they relate to people. Building a positive brand for your event is similar to building a positive image for yourself. People project a certain style or image and so do branded products. Each has unique personalities and physical characteristics that distinguish them from the others. Our perception of a person is determined by our experiences with them. The perception of a brand is also shaped by our experiences with the company or products. A person's signature is their promise to honor an agreement; a brand logo represents this same promise.

This is only a partial list of correlations between people and brands, and understanding these similarities is essential to building your Haunted Event's overall image. Look at your strategy by saying "a brand is a person" just as surely as "a person is a brand," and you are heading in the right direction. Keeping this analogy in mind will put you on the correct path for developing a "killer brand" for your event.

A brand not only represents the functional components of a business; it includes the emotional aspects as well. It is the positive relationship between the attraction and the patron that correlates into future brand success by securing and building preference and loyalty. Creating an image that portrays superiority and experience that the customer identifies with in a positive way is critical in developing a brand that demands loyalty both in the present and in the future. Preparation and an ability to see that the customer's opinion of the attraction's image will ultimately determine your success.

Branding decisions and product naming should not be based on purely internal perspectives. Many people feel that they are inherently the experts of their attraction and marketplace. While in some cases this is true, they are not normally the "end-user" of their own product. A Haunted Attraction owner must not rely only on his or her internal assumptions, but also on the perspectives of their counterparts and customers. In many cases the owner's internal perspective differs completely from that of the customer.

Naming an attraction can be very subjective. Think about choosing a name for your pet. Have you ever turned down a perfectly good name because it reminded you of someone you disliked, an ex-boy/girlfriend or rival schoolmate? Getting impartial feedback from potential customers is essential to determining the success of the event. Naming your Haunted Attraction is more than just about creativity; it is also about strategy. All Haunted Attractions want a name that stands out, whether or not the name's relevance to the attraction is actually on target. When choosing a name, ask yourself: Does the name achieve the objective of the new attraction? Does it achieve the desired image you wish to convey? Does it communicate easily to the customer that it is a Haunted Attraction? Is it unique or memorable? Is it relevant to the customer? Does it have any negative connotations or potential offensive meanings? Does it present any spelling challenges or can it easily be mispronounced?

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when branding your Haunted Attraction is to listen to those who will be attending the event; your customer. Their impartial input is what will drive the success of your attraction, and future success requires the brand to be flexible enough to survive the changing marketplace. "A brand is like a person" just as surely as "a person is like a brand." Both have a style and image to uphold. Your Haunted Attraction's name, logo, public perception and overall image all join together to create a brand for your event. Do not get caught up in internal expertise and assumptions for your event, consider all aspects and possibilities. Do the research. Analyze the results and stay on target.

Ryan Pluta is owner of The Carnival of Horrors, a multi-element event in Cleveland, OH, now in its 5th season. His company Haunted Crypt Productions has been producing Haunted Attractions in Northeast Ohio for the past 13 years. He can be reached at hauntedcryptproductions@yahoo.com

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