Along with a successful rebrand of association client NACAS, Mekanic was asked to produce a brand evolution of its flagship Annual Conference & Expo. The event offers the most inclusive and modern perspective of how auxiliary services enrich the campus experience. It convenes over 1,000 leaders from higher education institutions and NACAS Business Partners to exchange the knowledge and connections paramount to their work.
The former title of their conference simply borrowed from the association’s name, which presented the possibility for market confusion among prospective members and first-time event attendees. Year-over-year, the conference also experienced plateaus in registration sales and a larger-than-desired percentage of repeat attendees.
While the association’s purpose is to foster community engagement within an industry (a purpose shared by many not-for-profit organizations), a primary purpose of the conference is to cultivate opportunities for higher education leaders to negotiate business deals with campus service solution providers—deals that generate revenue for both sides of the partnership. We also identified the need to have the education aspect be its own piece of the event, making it easier for attendees focused on learning about campus solutions to have a dedicated avenue vs. the business/sales piece.
Our goal was to build a brand to showcase that NACAS’ event is visionary, progressive, inclusive, and a breeding ground for lucrative partnerships. We wanted to ensure the event brand:
• Was independent of the NACAS brand
• Did not rely on the location as part of the “theme” for any year
• Lived beyond the singular moment
• Had legs year-over-year
We also set out to separate out the two core pieces of the event, education and business. We wanted to ensure that education—the backbone of the conference—had a spotlight separate from the expo, the place where the industry comes together to collaborate, create, and explore new ways to create customized campus services that are unique and meaningful to each school’s community.
In 2017, we renamed the event C3X (CIIIX visually) to differentiate it from the overall association membership experience. The new brand presented with the tagline “CULTIVATE CAMPUS COMMERCE.” These three words act as the pillars that communicate the event’s purpose, as well as the outcomes that participants will gain. The X represents the expo component of the event, which is critical to the value that attendees seek.
The C3X solution was built out further in an extended brand architecture system to offer a similarly progressive and complementary design solution for the association’s regions. The regions—each producing their own annual event—will adopt “CX” as the event name, which uses “CONNECT & EXCHANGE” as the tagline. This tagline sets the foundation for a larger brand story highlighting that events attended at a regional level are equally important, yet offer distinct benefits of cultural relevance, intimate interactions, and the ability to easily isolate one’s needs and have them fulfilled.
The creative changes and revamped strategies led to some impressive results for C3X.
For NACAS’ 50th Anniversary, Mekanic developed a unique campaign highlighting key leaders of their membership. Using elements from their existing brand, we created an interactive timeline allowing for an engaging space for members to learn about the history of NACAS.
Raising the attendee engagement bar for 2019, we created a concept focusing on the “IMPACT” NACAS has had over the years around College Auxiliary Services. We created a typographic series highlighting images from past events, student life on campus, and a variety of worldwide college locations, showcasing the association’s involvement on a global scale.
Like many organizations, NACAS was faced with the challenge of taking their 2020 C3X Annual Conference virtual due to the pandemic. Tasked with creating an engaging virtual experience, we developed a concept that spoke from the student’s perspective. Colorful illustrations set the stage for bold, bright visuals accompanied by vital stats and imagery of their members.
We are currently working with the NACAS team to develop impactful branding for their 2021 event to be held Oct. 19-21. For more information on NACAS C3X, please visit their website.