Unlocking Brand Activation

Post by 
Karen Ashwin
Published 
March 9, 2021

How events can help you introduce your products to the world

Unlock brand activation! That sounds like something every brand would want to do. When we look at what it means to activate something, it’s about prompting action, change, movement, excitement.

In physics, to activate a molecule is to excite it. In chemistry, to activate is to make a molecule, carbon or catalyst more active. It’s about hastening a reaction and moving something to another state, another level. Isn’t that the ambition of any brand? To be out there, be active, inspire reaction, and drive action.  

Brand activation is not just a buzzword

Brand activation is a relatively young concept in the marketing, branding and communication space. Perhaps considered a buzzword when it first emerged, brand activation has become integral in the arsenal of self-respecting marketers whose brands are “out there”.

Brand activation is the process of driving actions, inspiring engagement and creating an emotional attachment by imprinting indelible memories and moments in the minds of the customers that companies want to keep for the long haul. It happens through multi-way interaction between brands and customers by creatively integrating communication and experiences centered around the brand.

All brands benefit from brand activation

Through successful brand activation, new brands are ignited, familiar brands are rejuvenated and tired, lifeless brands are revitalised. Traditional marketing and advertising methods struggle to meaningfully activate a brand primarily because they’re one-directional. Consumers, especially millennials and Generation Z, no longer trust conventional advertising. They don’t want to be told. They want experiences. There’s also a high degree of fatigue in all generations because of vast marketing clutter.

With its roots in experiential marketing and events, brand activation serves to imprint a meaningful brand connection with people. This is only made possible when interactions, engagements and relationships are voluntary, reciprocal and experiential.

Certainly, an activated brand is the result of the concerted and strategic integration of public relations, traditional marketing, social media, digital marketing, customer relationship management and even ecommerce. But, in achieving the goal of an activated brand, experiential marketing and events are the most powerful. Nothing trumps experiencing a brand face-to-face.  

Events and experiences activate brands best

In a study by Bizzabo, almost 95% of business owners said that branded events were the best possible way to get potential customers interested in their brand, and engage with it in a fun, creative and memorable way.

From the customer perspective, attending events and experiences makes them more likely to find affinity with a brand. A study by Events Track showed that 91% of people are better able to understand a brand and establish a deeper connection with it after attending an event. The same study suggests that events and experiences work powerfully to drive sales, with 85% of consumers being likely to purchase after participating in events and experiences.

Great experiences also get people talking and every brand knows the power of word-of-mouth. According to Mckinsey, 50% to 80% of word-of-mouth activity in any given product category is the result of a consumer’s direct experience with a product or service.

Using events and experiences to activate brands

Events and activations create unrivaled opportunities for brands to engage with their audiences in creative and immersive ways that inspire excitement, connection and affection. While most events and experiential marketing campaigns involve real-life participation, virtual and augmented technologies have broadened the scope of opportunity for brands.

Each brand has its own desired audience, unique values and sentiments that it wants to convey. Goals and objectives differ too. Every event, activation or experience should be authentic to the people it wants to convert to advocates while staying true to brand objectives.

Intending to promote the 16th anniversary of Gilmore Girls, Netflix launched a campaign that decked out 200 US coffee shops to look like Luke’s Diners. This activation kept costs low, while also promoting the season in a way that resonated with fans. Netflix was able to generate a lot of personalised content on social media and drive brand awareness.

Festivals, parties, trade shows and exhibitions, conferences, sports games, ceremonies and awards, competitions, event sponsorships, seminars, field marketing activations and VIP experiences are just some of the types of events that can be used to activate brands.

If you broaden your definition of “event” to include any opportunity to create a touchpoint between real people and your brand, you’ll discover that opportunities abound everywhere, in everyday life, including online.

As an example, Lipton, as part of its Be a Daybreaker campaign, turned London’s Kings Cross Station into a giant slip-and-slide back in 2015. The 100-meter inflatable water slide enticed commuters and passersby to take a break from their usual routines and refresh with Lipton. Samples were handed out and sliders could compete to win tickets to various events throughout the city.

Popup events like popup stores, parties and dining experiences are a relatively cost-effective way to pull in people to meet and connect with brands. Remember that at the heart of your event – small or grand – are the activities and experiences that keep people engaged and talking.

Getting started

It all begins with a reason, something to activate; be it a new brand, a new product or the reimagining of a brand. When planning an event, experience or activation, be creative, imaginative and make sure it will resonate with the people you want to connect with. To make it memorable and feel valuable to them, you should have an understanding – and respect – of their desires and what appeals to them.

Make your experiences multi-dimensional, in-person and online. Not only will this extend the reach of your brand experiences and inspire online conversations, but in the era of social distancing, consumers are much more likely to engage in online experiences or with experiences that include digital elements.

Have a call to action that is aligned with your objectives. Your audience must understand the reason why they are there and what you would like them to do. Make your branding visible so that there is no doubt in their minds about who is treating them to the experience. Encourage them to talk about and invite them to share their experience with others on social media.

Ask The Event Production Company

With over 25 years of experience producing world-class, memorable events, The Event Production Company knows the best ways to activate brands through events and experiences that leave lasting impressions. We will help you to conceptualise incredible brand activations that will get your products noticed and importantly, leave an imprint of your brand in the minds of the customers you want to keep. Let’s unlock your brand activation.

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