Brand Activation: The Definitive Guide (+ Best Brand Examples)

The term brand activation has been growing in popularity in recent years, but what is it and how can you apply it?

Well, as people, our lives are made up of a series of experiences

Some experiences are forgettable while others are memorable.

Memorable experiences form long-lasting memories which are usually linked to strong emotions such as joy, happiness, surprise and excitement.

Brand activation aims to bring a brand to life through engaging through memorable experiences, imprinting long-lasting and emotional memories with the audience.

The term brand activation has been growing in popularity in recent years, but what is it and how can you apply it?

Well, as people, our lives are made up of a series of experiences

Some experiences are forgettable while others are memorable.

Memorable experiences form long-lasting memories which are usually linked to strong emotions such as joy, happiness, surprise and excitement.

Brand activation aims to bring a brand to life through engaging through memorable experiences, imprinting long-lasting and emotional memories with the audience.

What Is Brand Activation? (+ Strategy Examples)

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What Is Brand Activation?

Brand activation is a modern marketing discipline which, in the greater scheme of things is a relatively new promotional strategy. 

More than ever, with the increased marketing noise, brands need to think outside the box and go beyond the traditional marketing channels.

A brand activation campaign aims to drive consumer action which aims to bring brands to life through interactive brand experiences which often create long-lasting emotional connections. 

What’s The Goal Of Brand Activation?

The goal of brand activation is to four-fold

Drive consumer engagement

Drive consumer response / action

Increase brand awareness 

Increase brand recall and brand salience

Brand activations are usually one-off campaigns that typically last from a few hours to a few days and an effective campaign usually generates earned media coverage enhancing overall reach.

Earned media coverage is (often supported by public relations) happens when a brand’s marketing activity becomes newsworthy in its own right.

Often, with the help of PR, the news media picks up a story on a brand’s activity and reports on this activity amplifying the reach and effectiveness of the campaign.

Why Is Brand Activation Important?

Any strategy that involves your brand is important.

The reason brand activation is so important is that in this increasingly automated digital world we find ourselves in, the lack of interactive, engaging and tangible events has left a gaping hole.

The relationships we have with most brands have almost moved into a virtual world and brand activation brings an element of tangibility that reminds the audience that this brand and their relationship with it is real.

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What Are The Types Of Brand Activation?

Brand activation is not a two-dimensional strategy with set tools and tactics and can be implemented across any number of channels or any touchpoint.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular brand activation strategies and techniques.

Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing is exactly how it sounds.

It’s a campaign that centres on marketing through an experience that is typically very creative, highly unusual and often thought-provoking or emptional.

Lean Cuisine launched a heartwarming campaign in New York’s Grand Central Station that shifted the perspective on how people could weigh themselves. 

Instead of measuring themselves by physical weight, Lean-Cusine encouraged the audience to choose another way to weigh themselves with one woman making the choice to weigh herself on the love she gave to her children.

That feel-good campaign left lasting memories not just with those in Grand Central Station, but with many of the 204 million impressions through the campaign going viral.

Sampling Campaigns

Though experiential marketing is often highly creative with a budget to match, sampling campaigns can also leave the audience with a positive memory simply by handing out free samples.

Everyone loves getting free stuff and companies can benefit from the uptick in brand awareness with these simple campaigns.

For years, Red Bull consistently ran sampling campaigns hiring students to drive Red Bull Minis and VW Beetles around university cities and campuses handing out free samples.

The exposure of and constant brand presence of this campaign played a major role in embedding Red Bull into the youth culture.

In-Store Brand Activation

The in-store brand activation strategy is useful for leveraging a physical shopfront brand.

Initiatives such as in-store demonstrations and hands-on experience allow customers to interact firsthand with products which is especially effective with product launches.

This strategy is executed when attendance levels are high, for example during the sale season and the weekends. Customers test a product they’re considering purchasing and can learn more about it before making a final decision.

How To Create A Brand Activation Strategy

So, now you can see the value of disrupting the status quo and giving your audience a tangible and activating experience, now it’s time to look at exactly how you can go about doing just that.

In order to create a successful brand activation strategy, you need to remember that your audience is the most important part of any campaign. 

You should be thinking about what will engage them and how they’ll react in advance so there’s no misstep when it comes time for execution. 

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Step 1: Set Your Goals And Metrics

Decide exactly what you want to achieve with your activation campaign. 

Do you want to generate an extra 20,000 visits to your website? 

Do you want to get 5,000 more people on your email list?

Do you want to increase sales by 10%? 

You can’t measure the success of a campaign if you don’t have specific goals. 

Get crystal clear on what you want to achieve and how you’ll measure success. 

Step 2: Create Your Campaign Budget

You don’t necessarily need a massive budget for an activation campaign, however, if you