Graphic design as super glue

Splashing design can make or break a brand. That is why it is important that an event style is an extension of a brand's brand identity and creates recognizable characteristics. Femke Luiten, the graphic conscience of Obsession, balances daily on the intersection of recognisability, connection and surprise. “The first impression counts, but there are more points of contact in the guest journey that are essential for the experience and impact of an event.”


Graphic design for events requires a different way of thinking. “Because physical events often involve large stages, halls, and screens. Then you shouldn't arrive with a fussy design, lots of details, or text. The strength lies in the good use of color, image, and contrast, which highlight and reinforce the message of an event. With online or hybrid events, which are almost as common nowadays, you have to think functionally. So that visitors to an event are taken by hand and do not get lost. Not 'in your face', but subtle and stylish. The brand experience is palpable in everything.”

Odd man out

Femke earned her marks at an Amsterdam PR agency and the Blijdorp Festival, where her passion for graphic design first came into contact with the events industry. She loves it, but she also wants more. Set something up. To undertake. She joined Obsession in 2021 to further develop her vision of graphic design for events for a range of clients. A somewhat odd man out in the midst of project managers and creatives. “Graphic design is often not the first thing you think about when organizing an event. However, for me, it is an integral part. Not a sauce that you pour over it, but an opportunity to give an event its own identity based on the DNA of the brand.”

“With design you evoke emotions, you strengthen the association with a brand and you get people moving”
Thoughtful design makes it beat

“It starts with the invitation. Then an event website. A social campaign. The design of the physical location or development of the online platform. A program booklet, speaker cards, presentations, and signing. A thank you email. And after movie. Before, during, and after an event there are so many 'touch points' where you make contact with your target group. With design, you evoke emotions, strengthen the association with a brand, and get people moving. Thoughtful design ensures that it is the perfect fit. It is the heartbeat of an event and contributes to the total experience. A kind of super glue between all the elements.”

Zeelsuis Branding overview tbv arikel
Graphic event identity: do's and don'ts

Looking for the boundaries to break. That is the essence of developing an graphic event style. The preconditions and style requirements of the client are the basis. Or the identity deployed during previous events. Femke will play around with this graphic data. Come up with an event logo that highlights the theme of the event. For example, incorporating an infinite sign into the logo of a congress on Smart Mobility. Or an event font that consists of all colored facets because it is about different perspectives on inclusion. This creates an graphic event style that is innovative yet recognizable.

Functional and emotional branding

“I usually take a look at the event venue,” says Femke. “This way I can empathize with the path that the visitor will also take during their experience. Where should signs be placed? What is a good place for (interactive) information kiosks? How large should the text be on the screen so that it is legible for everyone? Just a few questions that give me valuable input for the elaboration. Two aspects are essential here: the emotional branding of the look & feel and the functional branding of signing en routing. Online we call that user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). Together with our partner company Squares, we are specialized in building and setting up digital event platforms from that point of view. There you can see very nicely how different partners within our group reinforce each other.”

JSP22 Branding overview tbv arikel 2 min
Think dateless

“Sustainable design is also important to me. That is why I make designs dateless, for example,” says Femke. “In this way, some resources can be used for multiple editions. We also look at alternatives to save on printing. For example, by using large screens with a supporting image or film. In all cases, a good graphic event style is a matter of co-creation. This starts with the briefing, in which we explore the starting points for concept and development together with the client. Based on this, we make a proposal with a number of directions. As soon as a choice has been made, the translation to all resources follows. It is so cost-efficient, it keeps the process moving and, above all, it leads to designs that are touching”

And what about the future?

There are certainly more opportunities to integrate design into your event. Apart from the existing communication, such as mailings, posters, and bus shelters, new technologies are emerging. Think of Augmented Reality (AR) where a graphic layer is created in a digital application. This way you can make products or shapes that do not yet exist into reality. Think of an event map that you project on your kitchen table through the lens of your phone. Or bring a new product to life in your interactive exhibition stand. And the well-known PowerPoint slides are also getting better all the time. For example, Microsoft has developed the new Morph transition. An amazing way to make your presentations come to life. How? Femke is happy to show you.

Now it is your turn. Do you want to increase the impact of your event by using awesome designs?
Let Femke inspire you.

Foto-credits: Lonneke Noordeloos