European Youth Forum’s Event: Level Up! Accelerating Change
Brand Strategy, Event Naming and Visual Identity
We positioned and branded the European Youth Forum’s recent event to reflect the diversity and values of the next generation of European change makers.
The European Youth Forum and other European youth organizations have a long tradition of hosting events in Brussels. The Youth Forum wanted its event in fall of 2022 to broaden its reach and attract new audiences, particularly youth that might not feel traditionally invited into policy driven arenas like those which happen in Brussels. Championing this new generation and the various ways youth activists develop their capabilities within and beyond traditional government organizations, the European Youth Forum came to us to strategically position, name, rebrand, and revitalize this key youth development event.
Engaging people in civics at a European-level is not a new challenge for Brussels-based CSOs. With Euroscepticism continuing to rise, the younger generations are particularly key to solving this problem. However, younger people have been through a variety of traumatic recent global events– ranging from the 2008 economic crisis to Covid-19. As a reaction to these overwhelming experiences, many young people feel disconnected from civic engagement and disillusioned by traditional systems. Further complicating matters is a perception by many youth that leadership events are only for people who would already feel comfortable in a place like the European Parliament or want to work in government in the future. The European Youth Forum’s event is an answer to this need for youth civic engagement and leadership capacitation, but the event needed a powerful brand to counteract these existing preconceptions.
We utilized our strategic process that listens deeply to the wisdom of the organization’s staff, governance, youth representatives, funders and other stakeholders through qualitative interviews and thematic analysis to develop core success criteria for the event, which the brand needed to communicate. We then identified key audiences groups based on their strategic roles and priorities, weighted against the identified success measures. Additionally we developed a set of personas based on these audiences to better understand their likely characteristics. Turning our attention to the landscape of youth leadership conferences, we connected patterns in their language, visual cues, and values. We developed names and logo concepts that were then tested against those success criteria through qualitative focus groups of sample audience groupings. With these reflections we collaborated with the clients to select a name, develop the brand, and bring it to life at the conference.
Through our strategic process, we uncovered key insights to guide the European Youth Forum’s communication strategy as they connect with strategic audiences. These insights led to a key strategic message: come as you are. Within this framework the authenticity of all parties, from students to the European Parliament, were championed while maintaining accessibility of the space.
We explored a variety of options outside of traditional naming conventions for youth leadership conferences but one stood out within our focus groups and both captured the “come as you are” strategy while communicating the conference value in language youth understood: LevelUp! With a connection to video games, pop songs, and internet culture, LevelUp! also clearly and succinctly conveyed expectations. One youth activist shared, “When I see LevelUp! Europe, I'm like, okay, I'm going to learn new things about how the EU can improve.” This sentiment was further captured by our tagline: Accelerating Change. These linguistic decisions put the focus on the power that’s in youth’s hands, and the ways it takes all kinds of civic engagement to activate the next generation’s vision for Europe.
Our visual approach sought to convey a youthful energy to balance out partner logos that reflect institutions of traditional political power. As Gen Z pulls from the youth culture of the 90’s and Y2K, we brought forth visuals and illustrative elements that reflect the visual trends they value. When developing the color palette, we were cognizant of the masculine connotation of video game language like leveling up and aimed to establish a balance that would be inclusive to all genders and gender expressions.
The branding of LevelUp! defined youth touchpoints leading up to the conference and came to life at the European Parliament in October 2022.
The Level Up! Accelerating event was a resounding success, with the brand playing a vital role. The Youth Forum reported record interest in attendance from across Europe. Tectonica’s founders Mariana Spada and Ned Howey were invited to present in workshops to hundreds of youth on effective methods for making change through civic participation. The event provided an opportunity to witness first hand the gathering of thousands of enthusiastic current and future change-makers exchanging brilliant ideas and insights with one another in a European Parliament adorned with the event branding. During the closing session, one of the final speakers asked the crowd who was attending a European-level event for the first time. Hands went up from what appeared to be almost the entire attendance, accompanied by the roaring of cheers.