innovative branding ideas for half marathons

Innovative Branding Ideas for Half Marathons: Set Your Race Apart

Over the years, half marathons have steadily been increasing in popularity and drawing larger crowds, both in the number of participants and spectators. 

As a result, it has become more important for organizers to take steps to differentiate their events to maximize brand awareness and market value. To this end, organizers now seek innovative branding ideas to set their events apart. 

Today we examine some of these unique ideas and shed light on how you can take advantage of them to make your next half marathon a roaring success. 

Among the ideas we will consider are:

  • A case study on how you can leverage a sports inflatable for engagement
  • Must-have event displays to excite participants and boost brand awareness
  • Event accessories and collateral to maximize your brand recognition and reach

So then, here’s everything you need to know to achieve greater success, attract more participants, and build a stronger community around your half marathon brand.

But first, let's get better acquainted with the task at hand ….

Understanding Half Marathons

The half marathon is a road race event that covers a distance of 13.1 miles or 21.1 km—or exactly half the distance of a full marathon. 

Half marathons have become massively popular, with thousands of events held across the globe every year. The appeal of half marathons lies in the balance they offer between a great challenge and an attainable accomplishment. 

Participants not only race against each other but also strive to beat their own personal best times. 

The popularity of half marathons and the large, diverse crowds they draw—professional athletes to casual runners—have made them a ripe opportunity to deploy some innovative branding ideas to boost brand awareness. 

But to do this, first, you need to understand what draws different participants to half marathons and build your branding strategy to cater to their needs. The best place to learn this secret is through a keen study of your competition.

Expert Tip: Effective event branding goes beyond visibility. It's about creating an engaging experience that resonates with participants and spectators.

Research Your Competitors

Your half marathon branding success depends on your ability to learn and adapt to the environment in which you’re operating. This means researching the branding efforts of your competition to identify gaps in the market you can fill with your own unique branding approach.

To help point you in the right direction, allow us to use one of our success stories as a case study on how you can achieve similar success with the right event displays.

A while ago, we worked with Madison Square Garden (MSG) to provide custom displays for their annual Rangers 5K Charity Race. The race was highly successful, with over 500 new runners participating in the subsequent race. 

We credit part of this success to the event marketing collateral deployed during the race, particularly the custom advertising inflatables that provided branded photo opportunities. 

You see, MSG aimed to create a dynamic race event to boost brand recognition and highlight their main event sponsor, Northwell Health. 

Naturally, having worked with MVP Visuals before, MSG turned to us for help, and after consultation, we determined, based on the scope of the event, that they’d need:

Here is a quick table showing the custom branded displays for MSG’s annual Rangers 5K Charity Race. 

custom tents for registration


custom inflatable shaped MSG’s main race logo


custom inflatable arch at start line


In total, these added up to 65 custom visual branding displays, allowing MSG to create an engaging race event for their participants while placing their brand and sponsors front and center. 

The most impactful event display during the race was a unique custom inflatable which provided a fun photo opportunity and allowed participants and spectators to engage with the brand and create user-generated content on social media using the #Rangerstown5K hashtag.

MVP Visuals’ official product proof for Rangers 5K custom inflatable

This unique display was the gap in the market for MSG’s Rangers 5k Charity Race and one of the things that helped set their race apart from their competition.

updated Rangers 5K custom inflatabl

Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition

The most critical element to successfully branding your half marathon is identifying your unique selling proposition (USP)—the thing that sets your half marathon apart and attracts participants.

To do this, you need to find the thing that makes your half marathon different. This can be anything, including:

  • The different terrains over sections of the track
  • The scenery along your race route
  • The date or timing of your race
  • The charitable cause the event supports

Whatever your USP, find it and incorporate it into your branding strategy such that it makes your half marathon more memorable for the participants. 

For example, if your event track is known for its scenic route along the coast, you could incorporate this into your branding through a slogan like “Run With the Waves” or “Scenic Half Marathon by the Sea.”

Your USP should also inform your logo design, event display color scheme, and overall marketing strategy. This goes a long way in building a brand identity for your half marathon while highlighting the key features that set your race apart. 

Need help bringing your USP-inspired event collateral to life? We know just the place:

Get Free Custom Event Display Samples from MVP Visuals

Did You Know? Inflatable arches were first used in the Tour de France, one of the most famous bicycle races in the world. They marked the start and finish lines, and their success led to their widespread use in various other sports and event marketing.

Elevate the Participant's Experience

Another key ingredient in making your half marathon stand out is to focus on providing an exceptional participant experience. 

Going above and beyond to create a memorable event for the runners and spectators will significantly boost your brand’s reputation and attract a loyal following. 

Creating a memorable experience starts with the pre-race atmosphere. Consider incorporating entertainment, food and drink vendors, and other interactive activities that allow participants to socialize before the main event. 

Pick a high-traffic area of your event venue, set up some custom tents to host vendors, and arrange for entertainment. You can also set up some custom inflatable games to provide some fun for younger guests and additional opportunities for user-generated content on social media.

For the main event, provide amenities and perks that go beyond the typical drink station. For example, set up cheering stations along the track and offer unique fuel options such as fruits, energy bars, or even special treats like doughnuts. 

The fuel station also presents you with a unique branding opportunity through custom logo tablecloths, which you can also use in the registration tent and drink stations. 

Finally, let's not forget about probably the most important visual branding displays in any half marathon—the custom inflatable archways.

runners dash through a custom inflatable archway

Inflatable archways create excitement for the race and present you with the perfect platform to highlight your sponsors and elevate your branding. 

“I enjoyed my experience ordering an inflatable arch and some branded tablecloths from MVP Visuals. They are efficient and professional and my orders arrived very promptly. No complaints!”

Anonymous Verified Buyer

After all, one of the biggest photo-ops in a half marathon is a shot of the participants dashing under the giant arch when the starting gun goes off. Or when the race winner crosses the line under the inflatable arch to the cheers of the adoring fans.

See Also: Ultimate Guide for Inflatable Arches

Engage With the Community

Engaging with your race event’s local community can have a huge impact on the success of your half marathon’s branding. Thankfully, building a relationship with the local community is fairly easy to do, so here are some ideas to get you started.

Partner With Local Businesses and Organizations

This will help build a sense of community around your half marathon and encourage more people to sign up for the event. Some of the ways through which you can partner with local businesses include:

  • Discounted registration fees for employees of local businesses
  • Partnering with a local gym to offer training for participants
  • Promotional rates for patrons of local businesses

Support Local Charities and Nonprofits

This is a great way to give back to the community while also building your brand. Some of the ways you can do this are by donating a portion of your registration fees to a local charity or nonprofit. You can also organize a charity race to raise funds for a specific cause.

Alternatively, you can dedicate a part of the race track to raising awareness about a cause by lining it with custom flag banners.

Australia Day custom advertising flags

“I was so pleased with our economy feather banners from MVP Visuals. The banners look fantastic and are great quality. I will most definitely be purchasing more of their products in the future.”

Emily Persano, Verified Buyer

Build a Dedicated Fanbase and Community

A dedicated fanbase around your half marathon is essential to creating a strong brand. Encourage participants to join social media groups to connect with other participants and share experiences. The best way to do this is through a dedicated hashtag for your half marathon.

You can further incentivize participation on social media through a loyalty program and giveaways to reward repeat participants. 

Want a quick summary? Here's a table that shows popular custom branding displays for half marathons, along with their descriptions and benefits. 

Branding Display Description Benefits

Inflatable Arches

Amish Country Half Marathon inflatable arch

Customizable, placed at key points like start/finish line
  • High visibility
  • Great for photos

Custom Advertising Flags

custom advertising flag

Can be feather flags, teardrop flags, or banners with event/sponsor branding
  • Visible from distance
  • Guide runners
  • Branding opportunities

Custom Banners

custom banner

Large banners with event info and logos, placed at various locations
  • High visibility
  • Often featured in photos/media

Custom 10 x 20 Tents

colorful custom tent

Printed with event/sponsor logos, set up for various purposes
  • Functional with branding opportunity
  • Enhances event professionalism

Custom Logo Tablecloths

custom logo tablecloth

Printed with event/sponsor logos, used on event tables
  • Subtle branding
  • Enhances professional appearance

"MVP Visuals did a wonderful job. They provided status updates during the manufacturing process, the arch arrived on-time, and the artwork is perfect. We use the arch at all of our races now and it generates a ton of compliments from our runners and spectators. We are thrilled!"

Scott H. Sutter, Verified Buyer

Elevate Your Branding With MVP Visuals

Now that you know what to do to set your half marathon apart and make it a success. But how do you bring your innovative branding ideas to life? Simple—MVP Visuals.

With almost two decades of experience, MVP Visuals is a leading force in the event marking and branding world and your best bet at bringing your ideas to life

We are able to achieve this through our guiding principles, which ensure:

  • Above and beyond customer care
  • A culture of positivity in our work
  • Open and honest communication
  • Ever-evolving and improving processes

“We have done business with MVP for several years. They produce quality products with outstanding customer service and quick production time.”

Stephanie Powell, Verified Buyer

These principles allow us to provide top-tier service and goods to our customers. They also form the backbone of our Peace of Mind Guarantee, which promises:

  • 360 service: we value your business and strive to build a happy relationship. So from the time you reach out, and even when you come back, you’ll have the same coordinator assisting with your order every time. 
  • On-time or it’s free: simply let us know your desired delivery date when you place your order, and we’ll add it to your sales confirmation. If your items aren’t delivered by then, they’re free. 
  • Live help always: planning a half marathon is busy work, and you have more than branding and custom displays to worry about. So if you call us during business hours and a live person doesn’t answer, you get $100 off your order. 
  • Free layouts and samples: we know how important it is that your branding collateral is, so we strive to ensure that all your custom displays print perfectly. So we ensure that the material, placement, sizing, and colors are all right. We also offer free set-ups at no extra cost. 

So whatever custom branding display you need for your indoor and outdoor events, look no further than MVP Visuals.

To place your order, visit our online store, or better yet, call us at (800) 980-6871 to get started.

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