Understanding Brand Activation
Ever wondered how the world’s biggest brands started out? When brands first came out in the market, it generally took a long time (and a lot of determined marketing) for them to crawl out of their anonymity. But today, the advent of technology and social media has paved the way for brands to easily connect to their consumers, effectively establishing credibility and trustworthiness.
This internet push definitely qualifies as one form of brand activation. But how does one really define the term?
Brand activation is a strategy aimed at motivating customers to engage with a brand. Brand activation comes in various forms of marketing strategies: ad campaigns, viral advertisements, fundraising events, among others. These strategies are often delivered through various channels—either to increase brand awareness, raise sign-ups and subscriptions, or simply move products off the rack to ensure consumer participation. By using these activation strategies, brands are able to establish recognition and identity among consumers.
Take, for example, Apple’s “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign, where people sent in photos or videos taken using the iconic mobile phone, and the best ones were chosen to appear in advertisements, billboards, and newspapers. The campaign itself was a huge success as billions of people flooded the iPhone’s social media platforms with snaps. Apple was able to generate consumer engagement by reaching out to the right audience—in this case, photography aficionados and the snap-happy Instagram generation—while promoting the phone itself.
Essence of Brand Activation to Brands
Building favorable exposure is one of the most essential parts of brand activation as public opinion can dictate the success and collapse of a brand. Brand activation serves as an influencing force among consumers. It adapts to current trends in the market, and takes into account the preference of customers in a particular time period to stay relevant and build an emotional connection. This is done through several activation strategies such as sponsorships, experiential occasions, plus product sampling and/or marketing, to give consumers a full brand experience.
Brand activation also communicates the distinguishing features of a brand and establishes a sense of individuality especially in extremely competitive marketplaces. In today’s market, competition is tough, but brand activation can help brands find their position and become an effective alternative to reach potential customers, influence their perception about the brand, and eventually turn into a loyal set of followers.
With the right strategies in place, brand activation can become a powerful marketing approach.
Strategies for an Effective Brand Activation Campaign
1. Promotional marketing
Promotional Marketing is a brand activation strategy aimed at a brand’s target market with an objective of increasing sales and generating a loyal customer base, whether they’re corporations, retailers, or end-consumers. It can be in a form of point of direct marketing such as newsletters, sale displays, endorsements, reward-based loyalty programs, promos and discounts, online contests, trade promotions, or product sampling. Most promotional marketing campaigns are often carried out in live interactions with customers, like in trade shows, workshops, seminars, event sponsorship, or even mall campaigns where the brand directly reaches out to people.
Ultimately, the goal of promotional marketing is to offer an opportunity for brands to raise the interest of consumers and influence their purchasing power by providing them value. It also fosters exposure amongst industry leaders, helping it stand out against competitors.
2. In store retail marketing
In store retail marketing is a form of brand activation where a range of activities is done by a retailer within a mall, kiosk, or other fixed locations. The goal is to promote awareness of the distinct benefits of the product, as well as of the brand’s overall image. After all, as marketers would say, people aren’t just buying a product—they’re buying into a brand. Show them the value they need, to drive even more traffic to the store.
In store marketing can be done through a product launch, unique displays that capture the attention of passersby, or other engagement activities where people get to experience your product.
3. Experiential events
Slowly becoming more prevalent over the last few years, the premise of experiential events is to devise a platform where the brand and its consumers can connect through live marketing events. Global brands opt for experiential events to present their brand to the public by encouraging them to try the products while being on hand to answer all consumer inquiries.
Compared to traditional forms of advertising, creating a personal user experience engages multiple levels of connection, as if these consumers are actually part of the brand. Furthermore, experiential events can actually shape the purchasing decision of people and how they perceive the brand.
Increasing Engagement through Brand Activation
Consumer engagement is one of the key goals of a successful brand activation, as consumers help build awareness of a product and impact other people’s purchasing decision. Hence, it is necessary to cultivate a strong customer loyalty base and emotional engagement with the brand. So when devising a marketing strategy, be sure to incorporate these 3 essential steps:
1. Set Your Goals
A brand activation campaign is a two-way street. One should be able to tell a story through the brand and converse with consumers, and at the same time, your customers should also be able to interact with your brand Set out your strategies and goals that you would undertake to send a clear and meaningful brand message to the public that would actually encourage them to relate to your brand.
2. Maximize Long-Term Potential
A successful brand activation requires a product with staying power. Given the constant changes in today’s market, brands must always consider its ability to adapt to the growing demands of consumers as well as the requisites of the market. Focus on creating a connection between the people and the brand itself, and not just its products. Products can always come and go, but a brand should be something that would last.
3. Strengthen Your Activation
Timing plays a vital role in brand activation. Connecting consumers at the right place and time ensures that your brand taps consumer interest, as well as stay relevant in the industry. Leveraging your brand activation also ensures optimal exposure for your brand’s marketing strategies that are in line with your brand’s rollout, whether they be digital marketing, paid advertising, or public relations.
Every brand activation campaign is an experimental process. It is something that doesn’t happen overnight or end once the brand is out in the public. It involves other strategies that are often overlooked by businesses, and ignoring them often results to a failed brand activation.
To help your campaign be a success, here are 4 brand activation errors you want to steer clear of:
More Than Just Sales
Contrary to popular belief, brand activation is more than just sales. It is an effective marketing strategy where brands can actually establish an identity, build a loyal pool of customers, engage potential clients, raise awareness about the brand and causes it supports , as well as brand switching and other facets of the business that don’t revolve heavily around selling products.
Brand activation encompasses various aspects of the business. The main goal may be to increase sales, but the end goal of every brand activation campaign is to instill in the minds of people of the essence of your brand; what sets you apart from your competitors and what value they can get from consuming your brand.
Similarly, this strategy involves shaping the brand into a newer and better form so that it becomes more adaptable to change. Thus, full, and undivided commitment is necessary in order to generate positive results as the brand rolls out to the public.
Neglecting the Inevitable
Brand activation is not a one-time event or an initial stage of a brand’s introduction to the society. It is an ongoing marketing campaign of adapting to changes and satisfying the evolving needs of the public. Yes, you may have surmounted the difficulties of entering into the market...but what about sustainability and consistency? How do you ensure that your brand would last and stay relevant in the market? These are some of things that have to be considered on every brand activation campaign. As they say, work doesn’t really start until the brand is fully launched.
Lack of Strategy
Like other marketing campaigns, strategy is of great importance in brand activation as it involves a significantly complex process and factors of a business. Without a clear-cut strategy, brand activation can fail and may negatively affect on how the brand’s coming out or rebirth would materialize. Similarly, lack of strategy can result to sending out mixed messages and less-than-valuable information, creating confusion among potential buyers.
Key Principles of Brand Activation
Behind every brand activation campaign are strategic elements that aim to capture the attention of your target market and stir their emotions, which of course would involve adequate time and the right amount of exposure in the market, accompanied by equally effective promotional strategies. But how can you manage a solid brand activation? Here are 6 principles that every brand activation campaign should follow:
- Sales - Set a quota for the sales of your brand in order to monitor the success of your activation. However, sales quota should depend on the feasibility of the brand and the way it was marketed (before and after the activation)
- Communication - Foresee the possible number of engagements with the media and consumers once your brand becomes viable to the public.
- Call to Action - Launch a support system should issues arise in line with your brand’s activation. Make your support system available in all media platforms to ensure that every query and issue are addressed in their appropriate channel.
- Independent Measurement - Streamline the way you measure the variables you utilize to assess consumers, particularly their behavior, public opinion, and purchasing decision.
- Distribution of Promotion - When doing promotional campaigns, determine the amount of items to be allotted per campaign, the type of event promotion will be distributed, and the manner of distribution. To make it even more successful, opt for a unique distribution method—one that will stick in the minds of the audience.
- Conversion - Assess your brand activation by measuring the turnout of your communication prior and after the brand activation against the amount of sales your brand will generate after being activated to the public.
Measurement Factors For You Brand Activation Campaign
How do you know if your Brand Activation Campaign is indeed effective? Certainly sales and media impressions are good measurement factors, but there are other metrics you wouldn’t want to miss out.
- Unique Selling Point - One of the most crucial parts of brand activation is standing out among your competitors. Consider a unique selling proposition when creating your strategy to ensure that the selling point you want to convey to the public will generate buzz, capture their attention, and leave them wanting more.
- Relevance - Relevance of the brand activation campaign to the actual brand itself must be considered. Don’t create a campaign that deviates from the message and core values of the brand that would end up sending the wrong message to the public.
- Integration - If you have other brands under your wing or are employing other marketing strategies, be sure that the brand activation campaign can be integrated to your other marketing channels and not go against the identity of your company.
- Reach - Determine the extent of reach your want your campaign to achieve (e.g. targeted number of consumers, gender, age, country, and more).
- Ability to Respond to Change - Your campaign must be versatile, able to accommodate changes without spoiling the entire campaign. Our markets today are constantly growing and evolving so your brand activation strategy must be able to adapt quickly to amplify the experience of the campaign to your target audience.
- Return of Investment - Expected outcomes from the campaign should be more than just financial gains. Indeed, success demands high sales, but also consider other quantifiable consumer data such as social media presence, lead generation, email marketing, and others.
- Long Term Benefits - Consider the longevity and extent of the campaign. When undertaking a brand activation, keep at the back of your mind the long term potentials and benefits the campaign can bring to the brand.
Brand activation isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, the concept has been around for quite some time now, although the term itself is a fairly new evolution. In fact, it wasn’t until the present that the term brand activation became associated with the definition it truly holds: Redefining traditional advertising.
Traditionally, brand activations have always revolved around in-store signages and banners displaying discounts and promos that are often displayed in coffee shops and department stores as a way to attract and engage consumers. It has actually grown ever since, defying the age-old misconception that brand activation is less valuable and visible compared to TV advertisements and other multimedia campaigns.
In fact, activation agencies today go beyond conventional marketing techniques. Instead, they create an engaging experience that embodies the message of the brand as people buy the experience much rather than the brand. Similarly, they transform the brand to make it easier for companies to reach their target market and provide them with an unforgettable experience.
There are certain aspects of the campaign that brand activations can tap for an effective consumer engagement. Here are 5 points:
- Shopping has evolved over the years, and consumers have a dazzling array of shopping alternatives. As the shopping journey becomes even more complex, brands must be able to capture the attention of the public and influence their purchasing decision-making by becoming viable across all levels of shopping experience. However, brands must opt for a channel solution to convey of the brand’s message in order to guarantee an effective consumer engagement.
- Consumer engagement now works in two-way communication where customers prefer to be integrated in the campaign and make them feel as if individual value is given to them by the brand. This promotes the creation of personal relationship.
- Mobile devices are continuously redefining consumer behavior and their individual purchasing power. Given the accessibility and convenience it offers, consumers can access pertinent information about the brand anytime and anywhere they want. By targeting them digitally as part of the brand activation, brands are able to expand their presence, engagement, and personal relationship with their consumers.
- The growing demands of consumers include satisfying their clamor for marketing solutions that would help them navigate the complexities of a modern retail environment. Activations should take advantage of this need, while at the same time delivering entertaining engagement.
- In this digital age, consumers are the new form of media with everyone connecting through social media platforms. Given its prominence and use in everyday communications, brands would definitely find it important to interact across social media platforms. These will offer brands the potential to be shared as well as the ability to join in or even create the conversation—essentially by creating buzzworthy content.
Brand activation definitely holds a key to the success of your brand. After all, activations are more than just establishing a connection with consumers—they’re about influencing the way they would respond. It also provides an alternative for brands to engage with consumers on certain points and help them make the most crucial parts of purchasing decisions. But given the growing demands of consumers due to being spoiled with so many choices, brand activation certainly needs to find innovative ways to connect with consumers.