When it comes to creating and promoting a brand, there are lots of buzzwords you've probably heard that you associate with rote marketing activities and boring ad campaigns. However, there's a branding term that's more important and more specific than most companies realize, and that is brand activation. A brand activation refers to a part of the branding process that can either bring a brand to life or ensure its failure, and if you want to ensure that you can build awareness for your brand and promote its growth, it's a term that is essential for you to master.
What is Brand Activation?
So, just what is a brand activation? A brand activation refers to the process of transforming a brand from one that is unknown to one that is known. It is essentially the actions or activities that bring a brand to life and that get consumers to actively begin engaging with the brand.
The word activation, thus, makes sense. A brand is dead (or not alive) when it is simply a company without customers. However, when you build a general awareness of the brand throughout the public and create a group of people who want and choose to interact with it, you activate it.
Brand activations don't just happen with new companies that are launching. They can also be used by companies who are looking to re-brand and become known by a different aesthetic, reputation, or purpose in the public eye.
Brand activations can take several different forms. Some of the most popular types of brand activations include:
- Experiential marketing
- Digital marketing campaigns
- Sampling campaigns
- In-store events
- Social media contests and movements
How Should Brand Activations Fit into Your Overall Marketing Strategy?
A brand activation is an important marketing element for a brand. However, it has to exist as part of a larger marketing strategy that will sustain the engagement of consumers and growth over time.
Once you've focused on and executed your brand activation, rely on other marketing campaigns, platforms, and methods to continue consumer engagement. Use social media platforms to engage consumers, use regular digital marketing techniques to continue building awareness of your brand, and tackle content marketing to develop your business' voice and reputation as a thought leader. Don't think of a brand activation as a marketing event that can stand alone. Instead, think of it as the great big brand marketing party that paves the way for the rest of your marketing efforts.
How to Get the Most ROI from a Brand Activation
When you invest in a brand activation, you want to make sure it pays off. The money you put into the activation should return in the form of leads, conversions, and new brand ambassadors (and word of mouth marketers). How can you make sure you get the most ROI from your brand activation?
Set Your Budget
Be clear about how much you have to spend on your brand activation. If you are looking for budget guidelines, contact me and I'll walk you through the budget formula.
Be Clear About Goals
Know what you want to happen from your brand activation. Then clearly articulate your goals, in terms of what you want and need consumers to do. If you want people to become your social media followers, ensure that all of the steps you take encourage consumers to follow you on social media. If you want people to come into your store to sample more of your products, make sure you focus on asking/inviting people to sample your products. By defining your goals upfront, and then only spending money on things that help you reach them, you can ensure you're not wasting precious marketing or advertising dollars on the activation or event.
Get Everyone on Board
Everyone at your company, including executives, should be onboard with the brand activation and working to help. By making sure that everyone is pushing the activation and not leaving it on the shoulders of few, you can ensure that it goes off without a hitch, does not tax the time and energy of a few in a way that hinders business, and that it's carried out successfully and enthusiastically.
Example of A Successful Brand Activation
Sonic's Square Shakes Campaign
Fast food chain sonic did digital brand activation well with their Square Shakes campaign. They launched it at Coachella, where they served square shaped milkshakes. Instagram users could "shop now" for the shakes they wanted on Instagram's e-commerce platform. When they purchased a shake, the shake was delivered to them, and it was free of charge if the user simply photographed and posted their own shake with the campaign hashtag (#SquareShakes).
Pitfalls to Watch Out For When Planning a Brand Activation
Brand activations can be exciting starting points for companies. However, they can also go awry, and it can be helpful to watch out for the following pitfalls when you're planning your brand activation:
An Event in a Silo
One brand activation event without follow-up is not going to help grow or build a brand. Make sure you find ways to continue your activation and marketing campaigns post-event, so your brand doesn't die just as it's getting off the ground.
Being authentic is the key to a successful brand activation. Customers need to know what you're really about and who you cater to. Faking authenticity will show through, and it will also mislead customers who will want to become more involved with your brand—then become disillusioned.
Brand activations are changing the way consumers experience brands. Spend the time and resources needed to ensure your brand activations are the best experience for your customers.
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