Upgrading the identities of the premier annual events of India’s retail and retail real estate industry

(2018 Chapter)

India Retail Forum (IRF), established in 2004, is India’s premier annual event for showcasing the future of retail & retail real estate solutions to key decision makers representing Indian and international retail brands. It is organized by Reed Exhibitions, the world’s leading event organizer and is part of the global MAPIC PORTFOLIO that organizes illustrious events for international retail real estate market in Cannes, France with regional events in Italy, Russia, China and now India.

With IRF 2018, the marquee event stands at the helm of its 15th edition. It marks the coming together of thousands of powerful buyers and solution providers, from across the globe, to meet and network with each other and get deals done in person, over a course of two eventful days.

India Omni-Channel Forum, co-located with IRF and conceptualised in 2015, is the premier annual event for showcasing the future of retail digitech solutions to decision makers representing Indian and international retail brands.

With IOF 2018, the dynamic event stands at the forefront of its 4th edition. It will witness the coming together of thousands of powerful buyers and solution providers, from across the globe, to meet and network with each other in a highly interactive environment and get deals done face-to-face, over a course of two eventful days, buzzing with action.

Strolling in the shopping aisles

Reed Exhibitions, our client, is the world’s leading event organizer. It is credited with successfully holding over 500 events in 30 countries that attract 7 million participants, every year. It recently expanded its global MAPIC PORTFOLIO to include India Retail Forum and was looking at upgrading the identities of both India Retail Forum and its co-located event, India Omni-Channel Forum.

BOD and Reed Exhibitions joined hands to set sail on this identity upgrade journey together. We began our work by assessing the current scenario – a number of interactive sessions were held with the key stakeholders to understand the future of IRF and IOF with Reed Exhibitions, in addition to our own market research and analysis. The following conclusions were drawn:

• Indian events, in general, are branded in a haphazard and unsophisticated manner.
• The IRF/IOF event is perceived by the majority as an independently organised event.
• Its identity has a young, vibrant and exuberant vibe.
• It largely serves the participants as a network building event.
• It has low exhibitor retention rate even though retailers regularly attend the event.
• There is no clear focus and push on attracting transactional buyers.
• The majority of delegates belong to senior levels with business development/leasing as one of the key functions and most of them are brands followed by property developers.

Loading and arranging our cart

After the interviews, discussions and a strategy workshop, we set the following objectives as our driving pillars for the identity upgrade.

• Creating a global, premium and sustainable brand identity and communicating that the event is part of the global MAPIC PORTFOLIO organised by the reputed Reed Exhibitions.
• Creating a distinction between IRF and IOF in a way that also acknowledges and communicates that these events are co-located.
• Positioning IRF and IOF in a manner that creates value for all the stakeholders involved.
• Targeting the right audience through effective communication channels and connecting them with the right people before, during and after the event.
• Expanding and upgrading the communication in line with the new entrants in the target audience – Retail Real Estate BD, IT, Logistics, Store Operations etc.

Checking the winds

Strategist our way forward, we set sail to define and create two identities for the new chapter of IRF and IOF and how they would manifest themselves in cohesion.


We have created a primary and a secondary positioning for both IRF and IOF. The primary positioning focuses on retailers (buyers) and the secondary one on exhibitors & sponsors (sellers).

In its first definition (for buyers), we have positioned IRF as ‘India’s premier annual event where retail brands learn, grow, shop and experience the future of retail and retail real estate in the world’s fastest growing market’, and IOF as, ‘a premier annual event, co-located with IRF, where retail brands experience and invest into the future of retail digitech’.

In its second definition (for sellers), we have positioned IRF as ‘India’s premier annual event for showcasing the future of retail and real estate solutions to decision makers representing Indian and international retail brands’ and IOF as, ‘a premier annual event, co-located with IRF, for showcasing the future of retail digitech solutions’.

Brand Architecture

In the new brand architecture, Reed Exhibitions stands at the helm, followed by MAPIC, MAPIC INDIA and the co-located event brands. The co-located brands further include a family of sub verticals – Emerse 2018, Retail VX, GoConnect, Retail Terminus, International Retail Deck, Retail Logistics Summit, Retail Business Tech Summit (RBTS) and Shop for Store.

Event Theme

The theme for IRF 2018 is ‘Future of Retail and Retail Real Estate’ and that of IOF 2018 is ‘Future of Retail Digitech’. The narrative crafted around the theme is an echo of the contemporary as well as the future retail landscape and says that with time, retail is reinventing itself and that everyone in the market is looking at future-proof solutions to enhance shopper experiences and drive profitability.

Brand Identity System

Verbal Identity

IRF’s verbal identity system lays down the foundation for its written communication. It explores the brand’s personality and brand attributes, in depth. Inspired by this, it lists down the kind of words that go with its personality and creates a vocabulary out of them, complete with words and/or phrases to use as well as to avoid. It then condenses the essence of the brand into three Tone of Voice (TOV) pillars – authoritative, empathetic
and contemporary.

Similarly, IOF’s verbal identity system has also been defined complete with exploration and analysis of brand personality and brand attributes to form a vocabulary of words/phrases. It then condenses the essence of the brand into three Tone of Voice (TOV) pillars – confident, engaging and futuristic.

Visual Identity

IRF’s visual identity system lays down the foundation for its visual communication. The new logo symbol is composed using a rectangle, a shape that denotes stability. Talking in the context of the brand and its theme ‘future of retail and retail real estate’, it represents an area or a block that welcomes and houses people. This simplistic rendition is also inspired from the MAPIC logo and is in tune with IRF’s own personality and key characteristics, as captured in its Brand Personification ModelTM. The logo type, with its letter ‘R’ being manually styled, employs the font ‘Gotham’.

Similarly, IOF’s visual identity system defines two logos – one that’s used primarily and a second one, mostly for digital applications (low reduction value) – and its visual communication guidelines. The primary logo is composed using a circle and blending it with the idea of coming together of many. Again, this rendition is in tune with IOF’s personality and key characteristics. The second logo is a word mark with a stylized ‘O’.

Brand Imagery (Photography)

Photography is a powerful, emotional and effective tool for expressing the spirit of a brand. For IRF and IOF, we have developed a set of photography guidelines to help deliver a consistently unique and impact visual experience. It’s important that the events’ overall global and forward-looking appeal is expressed rightly through the kind of imagery/photographs they use.

Digital Experience (Websites)

IRF’s and IOF’s websites are their global interfaces. They’re one of the major means through which the world will connect with them and they will, with the world. Both the websites are interlinked through the other website’s tab in their primary navigation. Overall, both of these follow the same visual and verbal guidelines, as defined above, along with the imagery system. They’re smart and contemporary, and exhibit a balanced look and feel. The objective here is to familiarise the readers with the events, the exhibitors, speakers, conferences, awards, how can they exhibit, what will their key takeaways be if they visit and finally, to incentivize them to register for the events.

Brand Merchandise

The merchandise for the events have been designed keeping in mind the formal visual guidelines for the usage of brand logos and the respective visual languages of IRF and IOF. In this regard, a number of touchpoints like pens, pen drives, badges and baggage tags have been created, thereby extending the visual system in a smart and modern manner.

Event Environment Branding

A comprehensive space branding collateral system including agenda/itinerary, event backdrops, way finding signage and floor
plans has also been developed in coherence with the visual identity definitions and guidelines.

Brand Collaterals

The brand collateral include brand stationary items like letterheads, envelopes, notepads, folders and on-site or event collateral like forms for national and international delegates, printed invites, agenda, itinerary etc. As illustrated, all of them make use of the visual languages and the verbal languages in the same manner as defined in the preceding sections.

Marketing Experience

We have ensured that visual and verbal consistency is always maintained in the promotional manifestations of the events by standardizing the placement of the brand logo and its usage with the typography and the imagery. In brochure, magazine ads, hoardings etc., de-saturated images from the event with multiplied patches on its surface have been used, along with bold, crisp and impactful copies.

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