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The Five Pillars of Successful Brand Activation

Brand activation refers to the process of increasing awareness of and engagement with your brand through any number of experiences. Brand activations can have a huge and lasting impact on brand growth and product sales, which is why it is important to do them often and do them right.

In this article, we will explore five key pillars of success for brand activation.

For a brand activation to be successful, it needs to be built on a strong vision, aligned with clear goals, authentic, focused on genuine connection and offer unique experiences.

While this is not an exhaustive list of all the success factors for brand activation, it offers a substantial and reliable framework around which to build a campaign.

1. Define A Clear Vision and Strong Goals

For any business to thrive, it needs effective strategic, tactical and operational leadership. The same is true for brand activation. A clear, focused, and powerful vision needs to be defined before the details of the activation are outlined. The vision for the activation campaigns helps define a trajectory for the campaign, providing a useful anchoring idea for everyone involved in the planning and execution of the campaign.

Goals are guided by the vision and break down all the desired outcomes in simple, clear actionable language. They function as the skeleton of the campaign, where all the other details are simply adding functionality to a pre-defined structure.

Strong goals and a clear vision reduce the amount of upfront planning time and costs significantly, create a structure so the campaign is always focused, and enable the team to discover any potential weaknesses before the campaign is even launched.

2. Create a Long-Term Plan

Successful brand activations are not one-off events, they are continuous executions of a plan in a running campaign. Their primary function is to keep your brand at the top of a consumer’s mind as the first choice when they are making a purchasing decision. Awareness, memorability, and eventually, desire, are all functions of repeated exposure to delightful experiences.

In a way, brand activations are interesting ways of reminding consumers you exist and that your brand would do a better job of making their lives simpler or more enjoyable. In a world where brands are perpetually competing for their attention, a solitary brand activation without a comprehensive follow-up strategy is about as effective as trying to stop a river by tossing a pebble into it.

A long-term plan for brand activations gives planners a chance to think about the more material aspects of the campaign, such as the necessary number of activations per location, the locations to be covered, and the projected costs. Armed with this data, businesses can then optimize for the most reasonable overall cost and the number of activations.

Brand activations carried out in succession build on each other’s momentum. The gains per activation increase exponentially per location the more the audience interacts with your brand during activations. In the long run, you develop sustainable brand recognition which can grow more organically through social proof and network effects.

3. Be Authentic

The purchasing decisions of consumers in 2020 are more strongly affected by how well a brand reflects its values than ever before, a trend that is only going to continue growing. There may be a temptation for the marketing and sales departments to prioritize resource allocation exclusively to driving sales, but that is no longer a viable strategy for sustainable growth. Consumers want brands that are real.

Brands that care about the world as much as the consumer and make public statements to that effect tend to see a significant uptick in word-of-mouth marketing and general popularity.

Consumers want to see brands being logically and ideologically consistent, empathetic and responsible, ethical and true to both themselves and their consumers. These values should be very clear in brand activations but they should also become an integral part of the business.

Any brand that tries to capitalize on a trendy social cause without actually following through with its actions is very likely to face backlash from the public. Conversely, brands that genuinely adopt authentic values and strive to incorporate these values into their brand activations will generally enjoy greater organic brand growth, customer loyalty, and a long-term increase in sales.

4. Focus on Genuine Connection

In a similar vein to the need for authenticity, consumers want and need to be treated like people. Marketing has grown increasingly conversational and relatable in proportion to this desire for connection.

Successful brand activations spend less time talking about how amazing the product is, and more time empathizing with the consumer. Understanding the consumer’s needs then presenting solutions to those needs makes the consumer feel acknowledged. The best results are achieved through people-centric solutions present products as solutions to problems and not just an aggregate of “bleeding edge features”.

The messaging of your brand activation needs to address needs and frustrations in your consumers’ lives. The teams on the ground need to be fully briefed in this regard. They serve as your brand’s avatars and if they fail to empathize with your consumers, the consumers will perceive that as the brand’s shortcoming, not the field marketer. A well-trained and fully briefed team will provide the ideal support to a properly planned activation, ultimately leading to a pleasant experience for the consumer.

5. Provide Immersive Experiences

Successful brand activations seek to raise awareness of the brand, create memorable experiences and delight the consumer.

The most effective method of achieving all three is with interactive sensory immersion. For the duration of your activation, your brand should be the context of their reality.

Wherever possible, brand activations need to engage all five senses in interesting ways. Human memory is highly associative in nature and being able to tie multiple sensory stimuli to a pleasant event creates complex neural connections. Ambient music, delightful scents, and appropriate spatial branding all define the context for the memory. Wherever possible, consumers should be able to physically interact with elements of your event to engage the sense of touch and if the product is not food-related, interesting refreshments should be served to create a memorable taste experience.

Engaging multiple senses and inviting the consumer to participate in the brand activation helps the consumer form positive emotional associations with your brand. According to colloquial wisdom, people never remember what you did, only how you made them feel. While memories degrade and the details of the event may fade away, the emotional connection to your brand remains strong and can be built on in further positive



While there are countless brands all doing their best to win consumers’ attention and loyalty, not all of them are doing so effectively. In this article, we explored the five key pillars of success in brand activation, which you can harness and benefit from today.

Your brand can stand out with brand activations that increase brand awareness, create delightfully memorable experiences, and ultimately generate sustainable growth in sales.

If your brand needs to turn heads and win hearts, get in touch with us today so we can have a chat about your next brand activation campaign.

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