Everything you wanted to know about brand activations

Brand Activation

How can we increase consumer action on behalf of a company? What’s the best way not just to boost business awareness, but foster emotional links between the public and an organisation?

Brand activation is a relatively new discipline that looks to provide solutions to both those questions. The core idea is simple— deliver an experience that encourages people to make a purchasing decision. But there’s a lot more to the story than that.

What is brand activation?

On the face of things, brand activation sounds pretty similar to traditional PR and marketing. That’s because all three aim to cement the ties that bind consumers to brands.

But while brand marketing and PR usually refers to ongoing promotion, brand activation is about a one-off event. This often happens when a new brand is attempting to establish itself, or wants to create a fresh identity.

Experiential marketing as brand activation

Back in 2016 we were blogging on experiential marketing [LINK], and the concept remains relevant today. This is one of the most effective and popular types of brand activation. By providing the public with a fun, memorable and engaging experience they are more likely to remember the brand. When we remember the brand the likelihood of becoming a customer increases

The Hollywood studios are masters at experiential marketing, as London stunts for movies such the Ghostbusters remake prove…

Smoking Gun’s work for Virgin Holidays promoting a new direct flight from Manchester Airport to Barbados is another example of experiential success.

Sampling Campaigns

Perhaps the oldest form of brand activation, the clue— or rather definition— is literally in the name. Sampling campaigns allow comparatively small groups of people to try a brand or individual product for free. The most effective examples usually take place in spaces relevant to the core market, for example shopping centres and high streets for retailers

In-store events

Restaurants inviting the public for a free lunch, shops offering complimentary new lines with purchases of old favourites. In-store events are a great way to introduce brand culture to potential new customers you’re inviting them into the company’s world. Needless to say, though, it’s less likely to help businesses that don’t have physical products to sell

Pop-up locations

Anyone who has been to a major festival or trade show in the last 12 months will have seen a brand activation on-site. The situation is ideal— a captive audience relevant to the brand. But some of the most innovative examples break from expectations to really make an impact. Like cosmetic giant Benefit’s ‘brows and beauty drive thru’ on the A37 a few miles down the road from Glastonbury in 2017.

Preparation is vital

The execution of brand activation has to be perfect, but hard work in the run up is just as important. This should include:

*Maximising social media presence— now is the time to boost your posts and unleash striking, original content to help spread the word about the activation, and encourage others to do the same.

*PR— There’s no smoke without fire, and no publicity without PR. Engage with local and regional media outlets that cover the area where the activation will be taking place. By nature, the event is newsworthy, so let the news know.


Need some help with brand activation or another comms solution? Contact us today.