Rebranding a Web Site on the Run


More than a year ago, Fixation Marketing was in the process of rethinking and redesigning a web site for the Food Marketing Institute’s biennial FMI Show.

Fixation Vice President and Managing Director Sharyn Collinson says, “We developed a concept that would speak to what the show was about. That concept was, ‘If it’s out there, it’s in here.’ If it’s out there in terms of an idea, if it’s out there in terms of being futuristic. Whatever it is, it’s at the show. You’re going to find it.”

The web site launched in February 2013 well in advance of the show scheduled this coming June 10-13 at McCormick Place.

“It was so far out, a lot of it was real aspirational in terms of what attendees could expect,” Collinson says. “We just really wanted to start driving people there to get the event on their calendars.”

Then FMI decided to both rebrand the show and, while the next show would still take place in June 2014, it would become an annual event.

The Plan:

This news proved exactly how important it is for a web site to be flexible, since everything Collinson and her team had done with the site had to be rethought.

“So,” Collinson says, “The challenge of implanting that rebranding on the web site was the first task we were faced with. We renamed it. We gave it a new visual identity.”


Collinson: “One of the big priorities was making sure that the user made the connection between the old FMI Show and the new. We needed to make sure they understood through the messaging and the new visual look that it was a new event.”

Collinson and her colleagues created a message map and carefully made sure the rebranding was reflected in every bit of content on the web site they had already created.

“The challenge was to give all the content another look and, all the while, keep the creative for the event intact,” she says “We also had to keep in mind that they were going to an annual event, so we had to keep that in mind when we were thinking through the rebranding.”


“Dare I say, it was fun?” Collinson asks.

Even now, the event is still five months in the future so marketing is just beginning. Nevertheless, she says, so far, so good.

“The jury is still out,” Collinson says. “We don’t have any good data yet to share. But it’s won quite a few awards, so obviously it’s catching a lot of people’s eyes. And exhibit sales are tracking, if not a little bit ahead of, 2012.”


Collinson: “Two things. First, the most important thing right now is that it has to be responsive design, bar none.

“Second, you have to balance function and form. Don’t do your site map based off of creative. The concept has to come first and the functionality has to fit the persona of the audience. That is critical.”

Looking to learn more about how to turn your event website into an attendance driver and revenue generator? Attend Expo’s “7 Successful Web Strategies to Drive Attendance, Sponsorships and Revenue” Webinar on February 25 at 2pm ET. More info>>

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Posted by Michael Hart

Michael Hart is the executive editor of Expo. Reach him at View all articles by Michael Hart →