diner en blanc vancouver

Branding Lessons From Vancouver – Dîner En Blanc 2017

What kind of branding lessons can we learn from Vancouver’s instalment of Dîner en Blanc?

Dîner en Blanc markets itself as a sophisticated, exclusive event that only a chosen number of attendees can experience. Like other “exclusive” events, the event has a love-it-or-hate-it reputation in Vancouver. While some view the event as pretentious, most attendees and onlookers can agree that Dîner en Blanc grants a surreal and magical experience to those lucky enough to attend.

Dîner en Blanc is a prime example of branding in action – here’s how your business can act on this event’s branding principles to engage and cultivate a loyal brand following.

What is Dîner En Blanc?

For the unaware, Dîner en Blanc is an annual event hosted in over 70 cities worldwide. Invitees attend a picnic via chartered bus or public transit, dressed in all white, and provide their own tables and white linen to cover the venue in a sea of white. The “secret” location is revealed on the day of the event, and attendees can choose to bring their own food or purchase a gourmet dinner from event organizers for an additional fee.

What’s interesting about Dîner en Blanc – Vancouver, is that it is perhaps the most popular location for the event in Canada according to Google Trends:

Diner en blanc across Canada

Diner En Blanc in Vancouver

For better or for worse – Vancouver seems to garner the most interest for Dîner en Blanc in all of Canada, followed by Montreal, Toronto and Calgary.

This year marked the sixth instalment of the event in Vancouver, drawing over 6,000 attendees at two separate locations. It is the first time this event has been hosted in two locations – Devonian Harbour Park and Harbour Green Park – and ran on the evening of August 24th.

Branding Lessons From Dîner en Blanc

charcuterie board

The event is kind of a big deal. Love it or hate it – your social feed is likely to have some mention of the event near the event date, and you might even find yourself encountering a group of attendees clad in white, walking throughout the streets on said evening.

With over 6,000 attendees this year, the event has grown drastically from a group of 1,200 5 years ago.

Event-goers are fiercely loyal to the event.

If attendees follow the “rules” of the event, they guarantee themselves a spot at the following year’s celebration, meaning that the event will only get larger year after year. How does Dîner en Blanc maintain such a strong brand presence?

Consistency of Branding

Dîner en Blanc is very clear on their dress code: White. No ivory, cream or off-white allowed at the event! By maintaining a very high degree of consistency, all attendees contribute towards building this event’s brand. No-one wants to be the oddball, so every member tries their hardest to maintain the event’s standards.

Their website is also clear in what their image strives towards:

By setting expectations and expecting attendees to follow, Dîner en Blanc succeeds in delivering Consistency of Branding. What do you think of when someone mentions the event? If your immediate thoughts are linked to White, Sophisticated, Magical, Chic or  Elegant – they’ve succeeded in their branding!

Exclusivity

Hosting a limited event can harbour negative feelings in those uninvited individuals, but can be a great way to cultivate brand loyalty. Who doesn’t want to be part of the “in” crowd?

Since 20% of your audience is likely to supply 80% of your business, it’s important to generate a culture of inclusion. By generating exclusivity, your core audience will feel special and your brand will become that much more valuable to them.

Not only does Dîner en Blanc maintain a high level of exclusivity by sifting through a waitlist of tens of thousands of applicants each year, but they also ensure that they only allow those who follow their brand guidelines to be invited for future events.

Surrealism

Have you ever thought of how conventions make money? How about concerts, carnivals and parties? Surely you could host your own dance party, play your own music, or host your own events.

The appeal of a rock concert isn’t just to listen to great music – it’s to support your favourite artist, experience the once-in-a-lifetime event, and spend time with like-minded individuals.

Branding is about creating the experience as a whole. Share on X

Dîner en Blanc nails this aspect of branding, by creating a truly surreal experience. Live music, artists, dancers and decorations work together with attendees themselves to create a night to remember.

Social Influence

Dîner en Blanc is a fashionable event that encourages its attendees to share photos on social media. This helps spur the social influence of the event by spreading the message to the attendee’s social circles.

Who would you trust? An event that calls themself a “tres chic event,” or your friend who just purchased a pair of all-white shoes to attend an event?

Social influence is the #1 predictor of sales in most retail businesses. If all of your friends are purchasing an item or attending an event, you’re much more likely to follow suit.

Branding Beyond The Event

Many businesses fall into the trap of ending the brand experience at the point of sale.

A strong brand following can only be created with constant cultivation – and Dîner en Blanc cultivates its audience by inviting them back to the following year’s event.

In summary:

  1. Be clear on what your brand strives to be. Ensure that this is represented on all aspects of your business – from your brand’s website and social media, to your employees.
  2. Create a “surreal” experience by injecting your brand in all aspects of the customer experience – from beginning to the end – and neglecting none of your customer interactions. From the Website Form to the “Thank You” email, your brand’s personality needs to seep into the entire experience.
  3. Empower your core audience by encouraging them to speak about your brand.

Agree with our takeaways? Or, perhaps you’d like some branding help of your own? For more thoughts branding and marketing, feel free to contact our marketing agency in downtown Vancouver. We always have chocolate!