By Robyn Sussel, Signals Health + Academic Branding Strategist
Earlier this year, Signals was interviewed to weigh in on the debate about large conferences and the fight against global diseases. The question posed was whether the fight against HIV/AIDS is really helped by 20,000 people coming together in one place for a conference. Is it just a waste of money? or is meaningful information being imparted and shared? Signals was the lead branding and design team for the XI International Conference on HIV/AIDS held in Vancouver ten years ago with 15,000 participants. We also consulted to the Geneva team two years later for the 12th Conference. In 2006, we were again the branding and communications team for the 17th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-related Harm, which was a smaller and more focussed event. While this article doesn’t answer this question definitively, Signals spoke out about the importance of setting hard objectives when working with a branding team. With the harm reduction event, we were able to set out key messages and hard outcomes at the beginning of the branding process, including ways to measure our impact. Together, the Signals branding team, the conference planner (Shannon Brown) and the co-chairs of this event (Dr. Patricia Spittal and Dr. Sue Currie) ensured that the brand promises were realistic at the beginning, and that they were kept in the end.