Obsessed Fans. Celebrated Communities. Deep Brand History.
Anime Expo is an explosive, four-day event celebrating Japanese entertainment and pop culture.
AX is attended by hundreds of thousands of fan(atic)s every year, many of which dedicate weeks to preparing and networking. The result? A passionate obsessed community, sharing a singular, incredible experience.
Blind’s mission? Help Anime Expo become the brand it deserves, increase ticket sales and brand recognition, and open new streams of revenue–all without alienating millions of current brand champions.
Our approach needed to be comprehensive and cohesive, impacting customer touchpoints from badge design to online experience and everything in between.
Clarify the brand’s positioning and the customers they serve.
Blind helped Anime Expo focus their brand and marketing strategy. This led to growth in ticket and merchandise sales, and brought in a new market of virtual attendees.
Developing the Strategy
Blind’s Chief Strategist, Chris Do, sat down with CEO Mark Manansala and the team at SPJA (The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation), to craft the brand’s strategy for the upcoming Anime Expo 2017 event. Over a two-day facilitated session, Chris surfaced the challenges the organization faced. In the process, they prioritized the needs and goals of the business and its customers. This became the foundation for the branding and marketing plans for the 2017 event.
Understanding the Users
Anime Expo is a community first. It’s the haven for fans obsessed with anime-related cultures. To understand the needs of these customers, we created unique user profiles to represent the range of attendees. This painted a clear picture of their demographics, psychographics, needs and wants.
Defining the Brand
Through a series of exercises in the strategy session, we were able to extract and refine the key pillars of the brand. This defined the brand’s personality: how it should look, sound, and act.
Understanding what the Anime Expo brand is and who they are a champion for, helped define the positioning statement of the organization. This set the tone for everything created for the event.
Blind developed an entire identity system to make sure every customer touch-point reflected the brand. The rebrand included updating the logo, introducing a new color palette, a new typeface, and anime-inspired design elements. This created a more cohesive experience and atmosphere for both the physical event and its digital extensions.
“They took in all our thoughts and ideas to create
amazing visuals which better matched and reflected
all the excitement and feelings of the attendees”
– Meg Tsuruda, Brand Coordinator of SPJA.
Colorful badges for attendees using the new identity system.
Anime Expo's booth design for the Anime Japan event.
Blind redesigned the Anime Expo website, the hub for all things AX related. The goal was to make it easy for users to discover and learn about the event, while cultivating ticket and badge sales throughout the user journey. Early in the process, the team ran competitive audits on sites in the same vertical, as well as related markets. The insights gained from this influenced the structure and features of the site.
The AX sitemap: The team created a hierarchical overview of the site structure, to identify the flow of the user’s journey.
A Smoother User Experience
The experience begins on the landing pages. Users are given top-line information and videos introducing them to exciting events while making ticket and badge sales a click away.
Working closely with the Anime Expo marketing and production team, we designed exclusive merchandise and packaging for the event. Hats, T-shirts, chargers, pins and play mats, were popular hits amongst attendees. As a result, there was a 200% increase in merchandise sales from the previous year.
“The results contributed to many record breaking milestones this year and we recognized that this was only the beginning of bigger things to come. The attendees response was overwhelmingly excited for the new branding. Many attendees shared that AX2017 official merchandise was the best they had ever seen in any convention. We continue to receive request from our attendees to reproduce and restock our merchandise.”
– Mark Manansala, CEO of SPJA.
A Campaign for the Virtual Attendee
Blind and Anime Expo collaborated to bring the event experience to global fans who could not physically attend. We crafted a social media campaign that attracted attention to the inaugural Anime Expo live stream. Blind led the campaign from ideation to execution, with the creation of a marketing funnel that was responsible for nearly 350,000 views and an organically featured slot on the Twitch homepage.
Anime Expo 2017 came to a close after its massive four-day event in July, held at the
Los Angeles Convention Center. The event had an overall turnstile attendance of 357,178 visitors.
The 2017 event proved to be the most successful year in both attendance and sales,
showing positive growth on every front.