How to Create a Successful Brand Activation: Everything You Need to Know

Post by 
Elton Lee Hesketh
June 23, 2021

Brand activations are becoming increasingly popular as companies look for innovative ways to engage consumers. They offer a great way for brands to connect with consumers on an individual level and generate buzz without the hefty price tag of a traditional advertising campaign.

As businesses, they also serve as an opportunity for your brand to get creative and stand out from the crowd! But what exactly are brand activations and how do they work? What kind of impact can they have on your bottom line?

Statistics show that 98% of consumers will feel inclined to purchase after experiencing a brand activation. Clearly, having a brand activation is not a “should I?” question but a “when do I start?”.

What are brand activations? 

Brand activations are events where companies use their products to create a memorable experience for their customers. Activations are a great way to get people talking about your brand and to show them how awesome your products are.

Brand activations are designed to strike an emotional chord with consumers, creating a connection between the product and the emotions the brand wants to invoke in the customer. Brands typically plan out their activations weeks ahead of time, selecting the installations as well as the time that the company will spread the message.

A brand or company might choose to partner with a preeminent theatre, museum, cultural organization, or other notable space to host their activations. They can choose a variety of locations, from a sports stadium to an art gallery or even a coffee shop. 

In addition, a company could try to partner with a famous brand, bringing that brand's products to the location and coordinating the items for visitors to carry. Activations can come in the form of media, big outdoor events, or even mere hints and slideshows in retail stores.

Never underestimate your audience

While these can certainly be effective ways to get your brand noticed and generate buzz, these ideas shouldn’t be misperceived. The art is in the preparation and in using creative media to engage your audience.

Consumers are very discerning, service orientated, and quick to make purchasing decisions. They even have a plethora of other factors when assessing a company that matter to them beyond just the name or tagline.

The nature of your brand statement and name matters as well. Unsubtle concepts, such as “unboxing,” or “first look,” might be successful within your niche, but they may miss the mark for a wider audience. 

How to create a successful brand activation

Your brand activation is your chance to interact with your customers. Make sure you take this opportunity to get to know them, their needs, and the problems they’re facing. You can use this information to provide a solution to their problems in a way that also promotes your brand.

Brand activations are an excellent way for a business to accomplish two main things for them. First, it gives them the chance to deepen their relationship with their customers by building and maintaining a relationship with them. Second, it offers a great opportunity for them to drive additional sales.

There are many different ways your brand can get engaged during these activations. If you notice that one of your brand’s key products is struggling, it might be a great idea to do a sales run to promote your other products. 

This can be done in several ways. Small businesses sometimes ask guests to join in on a sales run, and it’s a great way to drive additional sales. Activities that happen during a brand activation should be customer-focused.

How to measure the success of your brand activation

When it comes to measuring the success of your brand activation campaign, it’s important to look at more than just sales. Having a healthy and vibrant social media presence not only enhances the overall online presence of your brand, but it can also drive traffic and sales at the local business level. Here’s why.

When brands activate, they’re not only getting noticed by consumers — they’re also getting noticed by potentially unhappy customers. Your customers aren’t the only ones noticing when you activate. People can also report seeing or participating in that brand activity, or reporting on your brand's social media pages.

It’s not a good idea to leave a lot of negative comments up on social media. If a single comment on an Occupy Wall Street action by Walmart incites a hundred negative comments in reprint by major news websites, you’ll pretty much be out of business. 

Meanwhile, if you reverse the situation and add an embedded, positive comment, you’ll almost double the number of incoming responses. When you start a new brand activation, you have very little to work with. You’re just venting your frustration with something, and people are responding in a large variety of ways. 

Many customers will react to your ad, may share it socially, or just find it in their Google Analytics feed. When you start a brand activation, you have very little control over any of this.

Satisfaction with your micro-site links can lead people to become customers of yours because those touchpoints form the foundation of an overall interaction with your brand. When there’s an overall positive sentiment, people are more likely to engage with your brand.

The bottom line: Collaborate

A well-organised and thought out brand activation can have a huge impact on a company's bottom line, as well as the buzz surrounding their products and services. Organising a brand activation is a great way to get your brand noticed and to increase awareness of your products and services. 

It’s also an excellent way to get people talking about your brand. What’s more, a brand activation can be a great way to raise money for charity or to support a cause that’s important to you and your business. Some people call them pop-ups, pop-up marketing, special occasions or station-wide events.

Brands often partner up with cultural organisations or retailers, such as art and craft stores, to create special, limited-edition cookies. Or maybe brands are organising community-based competitions such as mountain-climbing eating contests. Each such event produces a lot of buzz for the brand involved, helps establish a connection with the community and builds evangelistic support.

Depending on how many participants they have, brand activations can appear more like a counter-culture trend or as something more benign, like “cultural enrichment”. This type of campaign involves collaborations between industry and independent artists. 

Art galleries might host an exhibition where a live performance or dance event takes place. Concierge restaurants such as Park Hyatt Paris or host book events just for independent booksellers or artists. A collaboration between fashion brands and street artists is a common form of this type of campaign.

Products, services or brands get involved with cultural and craft organisations and creative arts communities, such as craftspeople, artists or artists-in-residence. Both have extra-curricular activities that the fame and influence of individuals bring.

For example, in 2016 Starbucks collaborated with San Francisco-based craftspeople to offer them custom-made holiday cards featuring images of their coffee showing the pandemic-era loves and adventures with the logo of Starbucks instead of the traditional heart shape.

You don’t have to only collaborate with artists. You could organise a pop-up for a particular problem or idea. 

Clients that need assistance with specific goods, services or brands can book an intervention. An intervention is just a meeting between the client and an individual to offer guidance and help them understand their needs better.

Final word

The Event Production Company wants to help you with your brand activation. Let’s start a project together and we’ll take your brand onwards and upwards, connecting you to the right people that can help you achieve your marketing and business goals.

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