Brand Activations are an essential way to meaningfully engage with people, gain invaluable insights and drive sales. Our formula is to “Create and Connect the Moment”. In our drive to meaningfully engage with the Consumer, to bring top of mind awareness and drive sales, Activations play an important role in the integrated model.
Everything You Need to Know About Brand Activations
What are brand activations?
Brand activation is any campaign, event, interaction, or connection with a customer(s) that sparks awareness and builds engagement.
Think about it.
When you started your business, no one knew who you were or what you were about. You were a lone brand cast adrift in an endless sea of other brands. You were lost. Unknown.
But, gradually, through each customer interaction, your reputation grew. People noticed. No longer were you lost; now you were the destination.
You activated your brand.
However, don't confuse brand activation with more pedestrian branding strategies. After all, what's the purpose of all brand strategies: to build awareness and connect with the audience.
Brand activation is different. It's not the passive accrual of customers and recognition. Instead, it's a business showcasing its brand to the world through a specific campaign or event. It's the flash in the dark. The kick-ass guitar solo. The headline performance. It's a brand in total control, creatively demonstrating who and what they are.
Think about Apple's annual tech launches. A local bakery hosting a Bake-Off Competition. Or a charity, launching a digital marketing campaign across social media.
In short: think big!
Why is brand activation so important?
If it's not obvious yet, brand activations put you on the map. They're a landmark event in a company's calendar. They're a chance to get people hooked. To teach them about your fantastic product or service, then keep them coming back.
And that's precisely the point. Brand activations are all about personality. No brand activation is the same.
There are fun brand activations. Creative brand activations. Experiential brand activations. Some companies want to launch a festival. Others prefer a digital campaign designed to create awareness.
In the end, you call the shots.
The only goal is to create that emotional connection. To jolt your company into life and win over a lasting customer base.
And, best of all, brand activations work. Despite all the time and effort required, 98% of people report feeling more inclined to purchase a brand's products following an activation.
Following me so far?
The key steps in a brand activation strategy
Ok! We all understand. Brand activations are awesome. But how do they work? What do you need to do?
Well, all great brand activation strategies can be broken down into four simple steps.
- What are you about?
No grand brand activation can happen before you've defined your brand. Like the plot of a movie, a brand's raison d'etre should be a simple line.
For instance, Apple's brand statement could be: cutting-edge tech with beautiful design.
It doesn't have to be complicated; it just has to speak the language of you. Whether that be the gooiest cookie or the best of modern European literature. What's your message?
- Who are you selling to?
There's a fundamental rule of marketing: know thy audience. This will determine whether you opt for a fun, creative, or experiential brand activation strategy. You need to know the demographic, interests, and traits of your prospective buyers.
After all, 72% of customers prefer marketing messages tailored to their tastes. I mean, who doesn't?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Before we delve into your brand activation ideas, it's time, to be honest. What's good and bad about your product? What will put people off? And how can you lessen the problem?
Continuing our Apple analysis: the obvious downside of Apple's excellence is the price. Not everyone can afford the latest iPhone or iPad. How does Apple counter this? By embracing it. Its brand activation events are luxurious, cutting-edge, elite. Indeed, weaknesses can often be turned into strengths. Brand activation is a chance to own your message – so be careful to preempt any downsides before your customers get a chance.
What's your big event?
Now you know your message and your customers, how are you going to draw them in?
Mind map out different brand activation ideas. Go wild. Anything is possible. But just remember to keep it within the theme of your brand and its message.
This is a great time to outsource your brand activation to an industry expert like Isilumko Activate. We'll be able to review your message and customer base, identifying any missing components. Then, we'll generate tons of fun and creative brand activation ideas that will "create and connect the moment."
Four brand activation ideas
it's true that brand activation events vary wildly. For your first brand activation, it pays to stick to four broad categories.
Let's explore these different brand activation ideas and when to put them to use.
- Free trial campaigns
Everyone loves a free sample. That one-week trial of a product you need for work. Only it never lasts a week, does it? After trialing the service, you're hooked – soon, you find yourself subscribing for a year; it was just that good.
That's the logic behind the trial campaign, in a nutshell.
But there's a fine line to walk here. If you offer a free cookie to everyone walking by, many may never visit your store. You want to create an event where you can target your audience.
That's where digital trial campaigns benefit. People search out your product and then enjoy the free trial. Or, prior customers can be sent an invitation via their email.
- Experiential marketing
Popup photobooths that show off photo editing software. Virtual tours of games. Or seawater in a can.
This is experiential marketing. The latter example was a masterclass from the water sports brand Tribord. To remind people of the dangers of the sea, they simulated the drowning experience through a fake drink called WAVE – essentially seawater in a can. That helped boost sales and awareness of their new floatation jacket.
Experiential marketing is all about creating an immersive user experience that lodges in their memory.
- In-store brand activation
If you're a brick-and-mortar-based business, in-store brand activation is your chance to tell a story. This means in-store promotions and events. Take a bookstore that invites an author to launch their new book. Or, at Christmas, a major retailer hosting a themed celebration to mark the start of Christmas shopping and showcase their decorations.
- Industry events and trade shows
Finally, here's a classic. Suppose you're struggling to find your customer base, head to a trade show. Here, you've got a captive audience ready to dive into your brand.
Push your brand at a live seminar or presentation. Wow, with a branded booth that shouts your message to the rooftops.
Most of all, get noticed!
Five tips for a successful brand activation
Let's not waste any more time. What's the secret to a successful brand activation?
- It's all about emotion. Brand activations are about triggering emotion in a customer. That could be excitement, nostalgia, Christmas spirit, or childish glee. Spark that reaction, and you'll have a customer for life.
- Create an experience. Don't spend all your time and money on a flop. Create a memory in your customer's minds that they'll never forget. Start a conversation.
- Be inventive. Consider Carlsberg's campaign back in 2015. They put up a billboard that read, "Probably the best poster in the world." At the bottom was a pump where you could pour yourself a chilled pint – now that's thinking outside the box.
- Think big. This is your grand brand activation. It's got to wow and amaze. Don't settle for a few leaflets. What's going to get people interested?
- Hire the experts. Don't go it alone. Here at Isilumko Activate, we have won many awards from our experience activating brands. With a strong emphasis on ROI and consumer insights, our brand activations are a day to remember.