"Imagine Venice. Imagine a wave of emotions that will carry you through the most beautiful city on the world, revolutionizing your every feeling. Imagine thrilling your mind and all your senses. This is sensation, this is the new Venice carnival."
[from the introduction to 2008 Sensation - 6 senses, 6 sestieri, the participating zones of the city]
The carnival of Venice manages to enroll the participation of citizens and visitors alike who merge to become a community. It's a big public relations and marketing opportunity for the city. The yearly festivities provide a memorable touch point for those who are able to attend as well as people all over the world.
Rapper Coolio kicked off this year's carnival riding a big "O", the last letter in the word angelo (angel), from the tower in Saint Mark square. A compelling visual and photo op moment witnessed by 34,000 people. All the images at La Repubblica (link above) show the wonderful attention to detail and richness in color, materials, and craftsmanship of the costumes. They cost a pretty penny to produce in addition to the perspiration that goes into assembling the finished product.
In many cases the communication is focused on the most visible display opportunity -- the face.
[image source AP]
What are some branding lessons we can draw from the carnival?
- Provide stimuli for all the senses -- some people respond best to visuals (today probably in the majority) like the costumes; others to auditory such as the music; and others to taste like the typical foods. Easier done with a carnival than in business, right? What is your presence at trade shows? Are there elements from this event that you can draw inspiration from?
- Think expansively -- many of the people wearing the costumes walk about the city to be exposed to different admirers and camera lenses. The beauty of today's technology is that you don't have to be tethered to a place like an office or a trade show booth, for example, to conduct business, show what your company does, and make connections. Where can you venture to meet your prospects and create brand touch points?
- Have something worth talking about -- the costumes allow carnival participants to be the quintessential version of what they represent. Each unique. At the same time, they become a flexible conduit of an idea that is completed by the person coming in contact with them. Try it out. I bet your version of what that mask in the photo means is quite different from mine. Yet the offering, the mask, is the same. How can we transfer this concept to the branding of business?
What other branding opportunities are built in community events? Or, we could just talk about the costumes. Which one would you want to wear? I really like the masks.