Rebranding the IME Anaheim Event Websites

Informa Markets Engineering (IME) hosts an annual conference event in Anaheim that consists of five different co-located brands. These events were combined and integrated into a single show gradually over the years, resulting in disjointed and confusing branding. When an outside agency was brought in to re-synch and revitalize the branding, my team jumped at the opportunity to realign and rebrand their digital presence to match.

Role

UI/UX Director
Brand Designer

Skills Applied

Brand Design
Wireframing
Prototyping
UI/UX Design

Tools

Octopus.do
Adobe XD
Adobe Photoshop

Timeline

April – June 2020

Informa Markets Engineering

Background and Design Task

Several years of adding and removing co-located shows to an event led to confusing branding, a disjointed digital experience, and a frustrated audience. Designers within the company never had the opportunity to align the brands properly. Marketing teams had difficulty determining whether they wanted to continue to benefit from the individual brands’ recognition and brand equity while struggling to integrate them, or scrap the idea of co-located shows entirely for a single, unified event.

Ultimately, the decision was made to bring in Column 5 Media, a visual communication agency, to help with the rebrand. They did a great job of developing a new palette, patterns, and logos for the co-located brands. When they completed their project, it was our turn to apply this new branding to IME’s Anaheim event websites. Within the span of two months we had to redesign and rebrand five of their co-located websites to a single set of wirefames.

IME Branding Documentation
Brand guideline documentation

Project Goals

Conduct a site audit of IME’s existing event websites. Catalogue event content and functionality. Work with marketing teams to develop a content strategy centered around their co-located events.

Develop a sitemap and series of top-level wireframes that all co-located websites can be aligned to. Get buy-in from IME marketing teams on maintaining the consistency of these sitemaps.

Pick a single site to apply the new branding, layouts, and functionality as a proof of concept. Upon approval, apply the branding for other co-located sites to the same set of wireframes for a complete set.

Use A/B testing and analytics to continuously improve co-located sites post-launch. Design and develop additional digital collateral to support the rebranding; landing pages, registration system, mobile app, emails, etc.

IME Research
Conducting research and sketching ideas for IME's rebranding

UX Research

Site Audits

I conducted an audit of the existing IME websites around the country. This allowed me to assess their existing sitemaps, content strategy, layouts, and functionality. I saw a lot of discrepancies where there shouldn’t have been – similar pages between events had different titles, elements featured high on one page would be placed at the bottom of other pages with seemingly no reason, standalone pages on one site would be sections of a larger page on a different site. Essentially, it needed to be completely reworked and standardized across the IME digital presence.

Market Research

I polled our marketing teams on their favorite event websites, as well as their direct competitors. The results gave me a list of websites that I could use as inspiration for content and functionality, while determining the best ways to help position content elements so as to differentiate our websites from our competitors.

IME Sitemap
Sitemap created with Octopus.do

Starting the Design

Sitemaps

Using information gathered from our UX Research, I generated a sitemap and low-fidelity wireframes on Octopus.do. This step allowed the marketers and I to work collaboratively and hash out an agreed-upon sitemap, with some general content suggestions for marketers to begin planning their content delivery.

Wireframes + Prototypes

Turning to Adobe XD, I began putting together more detailed wireframes, and basic user flows that included low levels of interaction. As mobile designs were a key consideration for this project, I created mobile prototypes that showed the marketing and development teams the planned behavior for mobile resolutions.

Applying the New Branding

I developed a web-specific style guide that was compatible with our Adobe Event Manager (AEM) platform, using a combination of branding elements that were provided by Column 5 Media, along with custom-created brand components and elements. As the flagship event for Anaheim, MD&M West was chosen as the first website which would receive the new branding treatment. We coordinated with the marketing team to help them with their content, and ensure that we had ‘real’ content to work with that was representative of what would be on the launched site. This was an important step, as previous website cycles were geared towards building a ‘placeholder’ site that marketing could fill in on their own as they received or generated new content. Designing with real content allowed us to get much closer to a ‘complete’ site at a relatively early stage in the project.

Building Out Additional Brands

Since the top-level sitemap and wireframes were already completed, and were intended to be consistent between the co-located events, we were able to limit our deliverables for the additional brands to updated style guides. This made for a much improved process overall, which was much quicker and more efficient.

Results and Next Steps

The rebrand was well-received by both our internal marketing teams and our users. Column 5 did an excellent job in aligning the brands with a revised color palette, new logos and icons, and a library of patterns to support the co-located brands. Importantly, the website designs have performed well, with user data still being generated to determine what aspects of the site are working best. We are planning to build out other events along a similar vein – IME’s co-located New England, East, and Minneapolis events are similarly oriented and will be taking on the same design.

In addition, we plan to conduct extensive user testing to determine our next steps on the project road map and revisions. Incorporating these designs into our AEM systems will allow for extenstive A/B testing of new and existing functionality and components, which will guide decisions on platform inclusion in the future.

Takeaways

This project was a long time in coming for me on a personal level. I began working with IME sites nearly five years ago, and I was always dissatisfied with both the branding and the technical limitations of our platforms. Having moved to the AEM platform, and being able to finally work on a revised brand that I could materially contribute to was an extremely gratifying experience. I look forward to contributing to these sites in the future to refine and expand upon their design and functionality, but at the moment I’m very happy with what we were able to achieve in a relatively short amount of time.

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