4 Simple Tips for a Powerful Event Theme (Plus Examples)

January 5, 2024
Lindsay McGuire
Lindsay McGuire
Associate Director of Content and Campaigns at Goldcast

A successful event is all about the content. Right?

Sure, content is key. But as seasoned event marketers, we know it’s more nuanced than that.

While excellent speakers and content are critical to an event’s success, they’re not the only factors. The most impressive agenda in the world can fall flat if your event experience is—how can we put this gently?

Boring. 😴

If maintaining maximum excitement levels has been a challenge with your past events, you might be missing an important element: a cohesive theme.

What is an event theme and why do you need one?

An event theme is a central concept that ties your event together as a unified experience. It guides the look and feel, marketing campaigns, and agenda of the event.

An effective theme makes your event memorable and fun while supporting your brand and event goals. It sets the stage for the experience you’ve planned for your attendees.

How to choose an event theme

  1. Keep your stakeholders front and center
  2. Consider event logistics like format and budget
  3. Make the theme hyper-relevant to your audience and brand
  4. Keep it simple for maximum memorability

4 tips for choosing an event theme

Finding the perfect theme for your event is an endeavor that’s both strategic and creative. Keep these tips in mind as you brainstorm ideas to land on a theme that makes your event an experience to remember.

1. Keep stakeholders front and center

Event management starts with considering your stakeholders.

  • Audience: What will intrigue and excite your target audience for the event? Think deeply about their demographics and interests.
  • Sponsors: If you’re working with sponsors or other event partners, they can be a great starting point to pull some inspiration for your theme.

Keeping these stakeholders in mind from the start helps you choose a theme that will engage everyone involved—increasing participation and making your job as an event marketer that much easier.

🤝Related: Activate Channel Revenue: 5 Tips for Wildly Successful Partner Events

2. Consider event logistics

Your theme impacts practical elements like your event budget and format. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • What type of event are you planning? Is it a lavish gala or informal meetup? Your theme should match the scale and tone.
  • What’s your event format: Virtual, hybrid, or in-person? Is it a one-off event or a series? Choose an event theme that fits your virtual or on-site environment—and has longevity if you’re planning an ongoing series.
  • What’s your budget? If you’re working with limited funds, it might be tough to pull off an extravagant theme like Casino Night.

A theme can be brilliant in theory but ultimately miss the mark if not executed well. Outlining your logistics up front ensures you move forward with a theme you can realistically integrate into your branding, activities, and the entire event experience.

3. Make it hyper-relevant

The most successful and memorable event themes tap into what’s top-of-mind at the moment. It should be relevant to both your audience and brand. Here are a few tips to help you make sure your theme is aligned:

Relevant to your audience

  • Industry trends: What hot topics are potential attendees buzzing about right now?
  • Current events: Can you build a theme around major news? (Just keep it upbeat.)

Relevant to your brand

  • Mission statement: How does your theme align with your organization’s purpose and values? Is there a clear and direct throughline between the two?
  • Business goals: The perfect theme is fun, relevant, and also ties into specific business goals like a product launch or fundraising.

Themes with strategic relevance meet your audience where they already are. This lets you tap into social media buzz, trending hashtags, and existing mindshare.

4. Keep it simple

A memorable theme is cohesive and simple. Make it easy to integrate into your entire event design by keeping it:

  • Focused: Center the theme around a singular, clear concept.
  • Feasible: Take it easy on yourself and don’t overcomplicate execution.
  • Flexible: Allow room for creativity as your team builds upon the central theme.

As with any marketing effort, clarity is at the heart of a successful event theme. Keeping your event theme clear and simple makes it easier for your team to reinforce the idea across all touchpoints. The result is an immersive experience that leaves an impact long after the event is over.

Fun event theme ideas to try next

Ready to brainstorm your next event theme? Here are a few of our favorite ideas for a little inspo:

  • Speakeasy: The roaring 20s, Gatsby vibes and the chance to dress up like a flapper? Yes, please.
  • Superheroes: This one presents the perfect opportunity to position your customers and prospects as heroes.
  • This year’s TV/movies: Piggyback on a recent phenomenon that rocked the entertainment industry (think: Barbie).
  • Music festival: Attendees won’t want to miss your lineup of speakers. For fun, throw in a live music session or two. Here’s an example of how we pulled this event theme off at Goldcast:
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  • Futuristic: The perfect fit for ‘state of the industry’-type events with visionary speakers.
  • Casino/gaming: Whether you take the casino route or lean toward board game night, the possibilities for engagement are endless.
  • Wellness/workout: Keep attendees engaged and active with this theme—and hey, whether it involves Richard Simmons-worthy leotards is totally up to you.
  • The great outdoors: Think camping, hiking, and s’mores. This one is a huge hit with the right audiences.
  • Sports: From the World Cup to fantasy football, this flexible theme can be tailored to your audience.
  • Broadway: Lights, curtain… action. Tons of opportunity to play on the stage, performances, and spotlighting top-billed speakers.
  • The 90s: Believe it or not, folks who grew up in the 90s are now VPs and CXOs. Why not take them on a trip down memory lane?
  • Holiday: If your event takes place around Halloween or Christmas, this theme is a no-brainer. Or, get creative by celebrating a lesser-known holiday like Alien Abduction Day (March 20, if you’re interested). At Goldcast, we love hosting Frosty Fest each December!
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These ideas are light and fun, but you’re the expert on your brand and audience. The important thing is knowing whether a theme will resonate with your prospective attendees.

Examples: Creative B2B events with memorable themes

Regardless of the size or format of your event, a theme adds something special. We love these B2B examples of creative and well-executed event themes.

Dreamforce by Salesforce: Trailblazers

For those familiar with Salesforce, their “trailblazers” theme won’t be new. But boy, does the company do an excellent job of incorporating it into their customer events, like Dreamforce.

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The whole concept ties a camping/hiking theme into the idea that Salesforce users are forward-thinking early adopters (you know, blazing the trail). It just works—plus, who doesn’t love their adorable signature animal characters? 🦊

Content Marketing World by CMI: Evolve

The Content Marketing Institute’s 2023 event featured the theme “Evolve,” based on a quote from iconic marketer and CMI executive Robert Rose.

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The event’s programming was all about evolving your strategy, storytelling, and career as content marketing is seen more and more as an integral part of marketing in general. Bringing in cutting-edge keynote speakers like Ann Handley and Andrew Davis sealed the theme.

Annual Summit by Kong: Destination: Automation

Sometimes the most successful themes hit really close to home. The API experts at Kong live and breathe automation, so running with the Destination: Automation theme for their annual summit just made sense.

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They incorporated this theme into everything from the event content to the virtual lobby visuals, giving attendees a cohesive and immersive brand experience.

Rock Your Funnel by Goldcast

As your resident event experts, we’ll toot our own horn just a bit here. We have a lot of fun with event themes. One of our favorite examples: our weeklong Rock Your Funnel event covering how marketers can incorporate events into their strategies across the customer journey.

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We incorporated our “rock” theme into our event copy, imagery, and even agenda. Entertainment sessions included music video viewings, dueling pianos, a live DJ, and music Bingo.

Bridging in-person and virtual experiences

The increasing popularity of hybrid and virtual events has opened new creative avenues for event ideas and themes.

Of course, in-person events let you have fun with physical decor, color schemes, and interactive elements. But today, there are also virtual event platforms that can bring your theme to life in pretty creative ways.

If your event is hybrid, you have a particularly interesting opportunity to build your theme cross-channel for an experience that really shines. Live event venue decor matches your virtual environment. Attendees see the same themed messaging whether they’re in-person or remote, creating a seamless experience from start to finish.

📚Learn More: The Ultimate Event Marketing and Branding eBook

Turn any theme into a successful event with Goldcast

At the end of the day, creating a successful event theme is about commitment. Once you’ve landed the concept, see it through by integrating your theme into your event branding, content, and interactive elements.

The right platform makes it easy. Goldcast’s event branding and customization features help pull your theme into every key attendee touchpoint—from your registration page to your post-event follow up emails.

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“Goldcast is a great platform to host our webinars. As a designer, I love being able to customize and brand the whole experience for our audience. From using original background graphics to buffer videos, our brand team uses Goldcast to create truly engaging events.” Anna Zimmerman, Senior Visual Designer at Formstack

Learn how you can make your next themed event immersive and memorable with a no-commitment demo.

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