Brand Activation - Effectively Increase Your Brand Awareness
Learn how brand activation can increase brand awareness and build meaningful and lasting connections with your customers.
Humanizing your brand is the best way to start creating a bond with your customers. As people, we often want to talk with someone we can relate to and have a meaningful connection with. To achieve this, you’ll need consistent effort as a brand to gain their trust and make your business stand out. Hence, why brand activation matters—whether you’re a new brand or a brand looking to strengthen its market hold.
Read on as we uncover why is brand activation important to businesses and how to make it work for you according to brand design experts.
Defining Brand Activation and Why It Matters
What is brand activation
The term brand activation refers to carefully orchestrated branding and marketing activities—live events, interactive ecommerce experience, in-store activation, etc. — for building awareness and fostering relationships between a brand and its customers.
Compared to running an ad on social media or offline, brand activation requires the “active participation” of the end users. Think of pop-up events that most brands run to build their presence. Instead of passively telling customers to travel to the nearest branch through an ad, they break barriers by coming to you instead. Consumers are more likely to drop by and check out what you have. Most brand activations like pop-ups serve as a sneak peek of the in-store experience they can expect should they decide to go to their actual shops.
Moreover, executing brand activation lets you inject your personal touch to elicit a positive brand perception. Such effort dominoes to your bottom line, eventually increasing sales and strengthening your loyal customer base. Case in point, data shows that more than 90% of consumers participating in brand activations would likely purchase.
But before anything else—let’s talk about brand activation strategies and how to get started.
4 Tips for Creating A Brand Activation Campaign Strategy
You may have all the resources you need, but without a strong and strategic foundation, your brand activation campaign is not immune to failure. While there is no single magic formula, here are four helpful tips to guide you in creating an effective brand activation strategy.
Tip #1: Identify Your Brand Activation Goals
As the adage goes, ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’ In a brand activation campaign, your goals are the northern star that guides you along the way. It ensures that you reap the maximum results that brand activation campaigns can offer.
When identifying your brand goals, start by categorizing them into short-term and long-term objectives. The former are smaller milestones achievable in a short period, while the latter tackles result from brand activations that may have a huge impact on your overall business growth and direction. Categorizing your goals also allows you to break down problems and track your achievements as you progress.
However, setting goals is not as easy as writing a wish list. You’ll need to be strategic about it. In branding-speak, you need SMART or specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals for every new campaign. Having SMART goals enhances your problem-solving process and allows space for growth and innovation.
Some SMART brand activation goals you can look into include:
- Enhancing visibility by 10% across social media channels through weekly events in six months
- Improving conversion rate by up to 20% through sampling campaigns held monthly within the year.
Tip #2: Talk to the Right Target Audience
Knowing your target audience goes beyond demographics or the population characteristics, like age, gender, location, socio-economic class, etc., of your target group. And in the pursuit of business expansion, many brands fail to capture the right audience that resonates with their brand message when running marketing campaigns.
While customer surveys and questionnaires may seem the go-to tool to narrow your target audience, you will still need to go above and beyond—which entails talking to them on the ground through your customer-facing team members, analyzing social media and ecommerce data, or actively participating in their communities.
It’s also important to recognize that customers change over time when iterating a brand activation strategy. In a few years, you will be talking to a different audience. One prime example is fast-food chains geared toward the younger audience. Well, those kids will eventually grow up and you’ll have to deal with new customers with different preferences. You get the gist.
Tip #3: Loosen the Purse Strings and Set A Budget
Budgeting can be confusing as branding results are not that easy to track. You don’t know if your investment in your marketing strategy correlates to your gains. Needless to say, branding and marketing campaigns may become costly if done wrong.
But it is high time business leaders and other stakeholders treat branding as an investment, not a business expense. While excellent product quality is vital to winning over consumers, big names like Apple, Google, Nike, and Coca-cola won’t last if they haven’t integrated brand activations and other marketing efforts into their business strategy.
One way to set a more accurate budget for your brand activation strategy is to look at your competitors. See where they are present, what they are doing, and their market performance. You can refer to your past marketing and branding campaigns and review what worked and didn’t. Identify the pitfalls and reallocate your branding budget to other channels if needed.
Put simply, data is your best friend and is vital to optimizing your budget and gaining high ROI or return on investment. Keep in mind that brand activation also doesn’t always have to be hefty. With a splash of creativity and determination, there are less expensive yet impactful ways beneficial to startups and small brands. We’ll get into that later!
Tip #4: Create and Develop Your Brand Activation KPIs
KPIs or Key Performance Indicators and goals are often interchangeable. While they may be confusing, think of your KPIs as your checklist that you have to tick off periodically to get closer to your goals. It answers the question: Was the brand activation successful?
Some examples of KPIs to help you gauge the success of your brand activation efforts include website and social media engagement, conversion rate, the number of people that moved forward in their customer journey and repeat business. Like brand goals, your KPIs will change depending on how your brand progresses. With this in mind, brand managers are encouraged to adapt and shape their marketing campaigns and metrics accordingly.
Effective Brand Activation Types and Examples
A critical part of your brand activation strategy is using the right type of brand activation for each specific campaign. Below are the following types and brand activation examples you may want to consider.
In-Store Brand Activation
Despite the growth of virtual stores, brick ‘n mortar is not dead! In fact, there is a clamor for in-person brand experience as more customers are starting to venture out of their homes again. And at a time when many are suffering from virtual fatigue, this is your chance to launch marketing materials that are not mainstream.
There are many options when choosing in store brand activation. You can launch a tasting event to showcase new ice cream flavors or the latest product designs. Or you can also give exclusive discounts or raffle draw prizes to walk-in customers for a limited period. But why not take it up a notch and make it worth every penny?
Adidas Opens D Rose Jump Store
Experiential Event Activation
Nothing says ‘I’m here!’ like a great party. If you want to add oomph and ensure your brand stands out, then a brand activation event may be for you. But for your experiential marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to encapsulate the brand message, brand values, and other vital brand elements above all else to achieve top-of-mind awareness.
Depending on what you are offering, you could spearhead inspiring talks where you invite relevant celebrity speakers or industry leaders to engage and educate your audience. You can also host an AMA or Ask Me Anything featuring your team. This narrows the gap between the customer and the brand, giving the former a chance to talk to the people behind the scenes. Such events help make your business more approachable and truly understand who your brand serves.
Heineken Champions Sustainability Through Its Greener Bar
An excellent event activation example is Heineken’s Greener Bar, a pavilion made from recycled and upcycled materials. From reclaimed timber to energy-saving roofs and reusable containers and cups, everything is 100% sustainable. Through its partnership with non-competing brand Electric Picnic, the biggest live music, and arts gathering in Ireland, Heineken was able to use the venue to entice people to participate in its sustainability campaign, spark curiosity, and encourage support while having fun! It also helps that its brand partner has a similar audience, thus, the collaboration worked really well.
Oeschle Brings the Theater to Life
Many businesses are recovering after an extended slump from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, theaters in Peru are still struggling to book full shows due to capacity restrictions to minimize the resurgence of the virus.
Oeschle, a clothing brand, took it as an opportunity to launch its Mannequin Spectators experiential marketing campaign. The idea is for Oeschle to buy the unsold seats, which account for about 35%, and fill them with mannequins wearing their latest designs. The odd sight of fashionable mannequins seated in the theater sparked curiosity among the patrons with many searching up the brand online. QR codes were also available for them to scan if they want to shop the look.
Through the unorthodox and brilliant product launch event, Oeschle was also able to give back to the theater community and tug hearts by filling up the profit gap to support the artists. Truly, the campaign has become a successful brand activation that represented the brand’s values.
Influencer Marketing Activation
There has been a noticeable shift in how customers behave. Case in point, signing up celebrities is no longer enough to get their attention, especially for the younger generation. They need someone they can relate to and talk to who is more in touch with reality. People need to see authenticity and transparency, which is what influencers can provide.
In fact, influencers are so effective in boosting brands that data shows they are valued at over $16 billion and are expected to increase in the coming years. It’s no wonder why businesses—big and small—are favoring macro and micro-influencers. Collectively, they have a wider reach across different channels, more diverse followers or fanbase, and are less expensive than celebrities.
Stitch Fix Expands Its Reach With The Help of Micro-Influencers
Stitch Fix, a personal fashion styling company, taps various influencers to introduce their services. The brand ensured diversity and inclusivity in its influencer partnerships instead of the cookie-cutter modelesque types.
Stitch Fix shared influencer-generated content on their social media channels, like Instagram and Pinterest, with styling tips and tricks. Followers were also encouraged to post their questions for fashion gurus to answer. The influencer marketing activation of Stitch Fix, aptly named “My Body, My Style”, boosted their brand reach and empowered women influencers to share their talent and spread body positivity.
Digital/Social Media Brand Activation
In the age of quick scrolls and instant content, it’s easy to lose the attention of your users. If this is the case for you, then you may benefit from digital campaigns or social media brand activation to disrupt the lull.
Virtual events push your online users to act on your call-to-actions now and, when successful, convert them into paying customers. An example would be running social media contests through user-generated content or hashtag contest where they showcase your brand. In return, winning participants can get a prize. But with a plethora of personalization tools on these platforms, you can do more by tailoring on-brand social media activation like what fast fashion and cosmetics retailer ASOS did.
ASOS Captures TikTok Users With #AySauce Challenge
Glow-up videos where users show how they transform from simple to elevated looks are all the rage on the video-sharing app TikTok. ASOS leveraged this by launching the #AySauce challenge where they encouraged the platform users to drop three of their hottest ASOS-inspired outfits The brand activation campaign integrated customized catchy music, the hashtag #AySauce, bespoke AR TikTok filters, and featured top TikTok influencers in the US and the UK that ASOS followers admire.
Et voila! The campaign garnered over 1 billion views, 488,000 user-generated content, and a 15% boost in engagement in just a few weeks! Suffice it to say the campaign was a success.
Social media platforms evolved from a simple sharing space into something that can make an event interactive with augmented reality and other AI tools. You can now create branded filters, stickers, and other branded features to elevate your content online.
Build Lasting Emotional Connections Through Brand Activation
The marketing world is always evolving with many other brands to look out for. Luckily, there are many ways to stand out, build a strong brand, and nurture your customers through head-turning experiential marketing campaigns, sampling campaigns, and viral social media events, to name a few. However, to truly last in a competition where brand success is difficult to achieve. You’ll need consistency and a strong commitment to your brand values, brand message, and brand identity for every brand activation campaign you run.
When expertly done, not only will you be able to generate brand awareness, turn potential customers into paying customers, and increase sales, but also forge lasting emotional connections. The result? A community of loyal customers that will advocate for your brand for years to come. Just take a look at some of the giants—General Electric, Kraft Foods, and Nikon—still on top of their games for more than a century. Ramotion can help you achieve brand success, too.
Updated: May 31, 2023