You’ve just heard that your corporate event is a go. Now that you’ve gotten the green light, you can get down to planning. But the fear of hosting a lackluster corporate event can make getting started an impossible task. 

It’s time to choose an event theme.

Your theme sets the tone for your whole event. Once in place, it drives all of your planning decisions. The right theme attracts attendees and builds your business’s brand, but a boring or tacky theme can put your company’s reputation on the line. 

Here are three steps to help you pick a professional yet memorable event theme.

Step 1: Review your goals

First and foremost, clarify and review your goals. What’s the purpose of your event? Why is your company hosting it? Are you bringing together clients for a big training? Or is it your company’s annual conference to attract new prospects?

Getting the “so what” of your event down on paper will help you identify the big ideas it ties into. From there, you can start brainstorming themes that fit.

Step 2: Consider your audience

While you might think this is an obvious one, a rough outline of who’s attending your corporate event is worth getting down long before you put together the guest list. Themes that might fly for an event where it’s just going to be your clients might not work for an event where your prospects are present, too.

A few questions to ask yourself: Who’s attending? What’s the age range? Is the event adults-only, or will families be present? Will attendees all be from the same area, or will there be people from different parts of the country or world?

Step 3: Choose a venue that complements your theme (or vice versa)

While decorations and activities are important, subtly reinforcing your theme through your catering and venue can be even more memorable. Though traditional event venues remain the most popular choice for event planners, you’re not limited to the hotel ballroom if your event theme calls for something a little more unusual. If you’re looking to deliver a unique experience, consider exploring an unconventional venue like a parking lot or unique Airbnb.

If you’re still having trouble selecting a theme, your venue can also provide needed inspiration. For example, if you’re hosting your event at a local winery, the location lends itself to a Tuscan theme.

If you align your venue and your theme, not only will your event feel like a breath of fresh air, you can be guaranteed it will be talked about for months to come. Learn more about how to use the setting to create a corporate event attendees will never forget how in our guide, The Rise of Nontraditional Event Venues.

Need inspiration?

Here are some sources of corporate event theme inspiration to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Academy award winning movies
  • Eras (’80s, ’20s, futuristic)
  • Vacation escapes
  • Capitals from around the world
  • Childhood memories (prom, homecoming)
  • Global cuisine

Perhaps the best inspiration to turn to is your own brand. What are your brand values? Use these as a north pole while you’re considering themes, or even make one of your brand values (for example, growth) the theme of the whole event.

If you don’t yet have your event’s brand clearly defined, that should come before deciding your event’s theme. Use this branding worksheet to create an immersive brand experience at your event — theme included.

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