In The Trenches

Is your brand always at a gala?

Published on May 22, 2018 Back to blog
Small Army at the Boston Medical Center Gala

It’s gala season. Practically every night this month, thousands of people are putting on their best outfits and heading to fancy event spaces to support the great work of non-profit organizations and mingle with others who share similar beliefs. The evenings are often filled with live music, great food, emotional videos, amazing auction items and moving speakers. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve attended three such events, and I have more on my calendar in the weeks ahead. For non-profits and attendees alike, they are the highlight of the year and must be prepared for and approached accordingly. 

To me, galas are like advertising. Brands (and people) put lots of energy into looking perfect, honing their “pitch,” and perfectly positioning themselves at the right place and at the right time. There is meticulous planning for that prime (and often expensive) opportunity to get their message in front of the perfect group of people.

But what about the rest of the year?

The rest of the year is social media (and content, in general) – the days where we wear our regular clothes, hang out with people, chat and just be ourselves. It’s not about meticulous planning and perfection, but rather about simply being true to ourselves and going with the flow. No scripts to read. No black ties to wear. And no endless struggles with perfect preparation.  

Brands often find it difficult to let go a little and, instead, treat every day like a gala. Not only is that approach unsustainable (and impractical) for most organizations, it is also unauthentic. So, here are a few tips on how brands (and people) can more effectively be themselves and get out of Gala mode. Find Your Soul – In order for your brand to be itself, you must know what it stands for. In doing so, your brand can spend less time talking about itself and more time being itself and becoming one with its audience. (If you need some help with this, I suggest reading my book, The Moral of the Story. It’s free on the Kindle for Amazon Prime members.)

Dress casually – No one expects you to wear a cocktail dress or tux every day. Be sure to look decent, but don’t worry too much about production values – save that for the gala. Define your brand style and let it shine.

Be spontaneous – Remember Oreos’ “You can still dunk in the dark” SuperBowl post? Sometimes the best social posts are those that are witty and spontaneous (while also true to the soul of your brand). While everything needs to be perfect for the Gala, give your brand a bit more flexibility and freedom in social media. Don’t let lengthy approval processes get in the way of wit, timeliness and relevance.

Be social – There’s nothing more annoying than someone who always talks and never listens. Spend at least as much time responding and engaging with others as you do pushing out your content. And, help others get their voice heard by sharing theirs as well. Most of all, be a good friend. Be human.

Find your groove – Keep an eye what others are responding to and engaging with – and do more of it. And, don’t be afraid to change it up a little every once in a while and try something new. As long as your brand is true to itself, it’ll do just fine.

No doubt, galas are important. When spending big dollars to get your message in front of the right people at the right time, brands must carefully craft their story and represent themselves in the best possible light. But, there is also a time to let your hair down and just go with it. Let your brand free. That’s when relationships are ultimately made.

Now, I’m off to put on my tux and prepare for a few more galas…

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners