Brandemonium to bring SXSW-style branding conference and events to town this fall

Brandemonium, Cincinnati's first-ever SXSW-style branding conference and festival, will take place Oct. 11-14.

“Cincinnati is a brand hub,” says Brandemonium co-founder Bill Donabedian. “The number of people that are from Cincinnati that work in the industry is amazing. We leveraged that network to bring in a strong lineup of speakers and panelists.”

Two years in the making, Brandemonium is the brainchild of Donabedian and Kevin Canafax of Fidelity Investments. The event will bring national branding talent to Cincinnati, as well as showcase local leaders in the field.

Bestselling author and Direct Marketing Hall of Fame member Seth Godin will be one of the keynote speakers. Other panelists and speakers include academics and professionals from companies like 84.51
°, Gorilla Glue, Target, LPK, The Coca-Cola Company, Google, Kellogg Company, Luxottica and Kroger.

In addition to the traditional conference, Brandemonium will also have a festival of performances, pop-up shops, brand takeovers, lounges, brand hacks and after-parties.

“Most conferences are just that: a conference and the only people that know about it are the attendees,” says Donabedian. “We wanted this to be more like SXSW, Cannes and Sundance. At those events, the industry turns itself outward and gets the public involved through brand activations, an experience that enables a brand to engage directly with consumers.”

All the festival events will be open to the public, although registration may be required for some events due to space limitations.

“Anyone that has a job that touches a brand, from a CMO to a graphic designer, should be interested in attending the conference,” says Donabedian. “The festival should interest anyone that wants to check out their favorite brands and have cool experiences.”

Brandemonium follows on the heels of the re-opening celebrations of Music Hall and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, and overlaps with BLINK, a new festival featuring art and light installations across the city.

“Cincinnati should be proud of our expertise in branding and embrace this event,” says Donabedian. “It’s who we are. It’s in our DNA. Our city has changed drastically in the past 10 years. I want everyone attending Brandemonium to be totally blown away by our renaissance.”

Online registration for Brandemonium is open(tickets are $399 until Aug. 31, then the price goes up to $499 until Sept. 29; day of, tickets will be $599) and organizers are still looking for companies interested in participating in brand activations and sites to host the activation events. Volunteers are also being recruited to help with conference and festival logistics.

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Read more articles by Julie Carpenter.

Julie Carpenter has a background in cultural heritage tourism, museums, and nonprofit organizations. She's the Executive Director of AIA Cincinnati.