Brand Activation: What is it & Why is it important for Marketing?

According to WARC’s 2021 Health of Creativity report, emotion is the top creative strategy for effective communication. How does this align to brand activations? A brand activation campaign is the key to creating an emotional connection with a target audience. 

The Expo Centric team have been working with clients creating bespoke brand activation campaigns for over thirteen years. They understand the benefit of emotional connection between audience members and the types of activations that play to this strength. Listen in to the following blog to understand not only the benefits of brand activation strategy, but how to coordinate them and be inspired by a number of different types.

What is brand activation? 

Ahead of planning any events, or activations, you first must understand what a brand activation is. Essentially it is the curation of enabling your brand to have a presence within a certain market, and most often for a finite period of time. 

Brand activations work to build awareness around a brand holistically or a certain element of the company. The awareness is often built by creating an element of engagement, to boost brand awareness and make a lasting impact on the audience.

The timing of a brand activation often lends itself to key moments within a company’s calendar. This may include the release or launch of a certain line or a celebration of a significant moment within the brand. Aligning the timing of brand activation events works to keep the focus on specific messaging, ultimately driving the success of the campaign.  

What makes brand activation important? 

Brand activations are quickly becoming an essential part of all marketing strategy approaches. With digital marketing at the forefront of every marketing campaign, a brand activation strategy helps to illustrate a brand in a more tactile way and supports the emotional connection between brands and their audience. 

The emotional connection created through experiential marketing often holds a longer-lasting impact than those received via traditional marketing and media. Through creating these opportunities through brand activation, companies may discover longevity with the relationships they build and the sales they create.

Determining the strategy  

When considering a brand activation campaign, the company must first develop a strategy for it to sit within. This ensures the brand activation doesn’t remain as a simple one-off event, and rather is supported by a robust marketing campaign to strengthen its impact. There are a number of elements that pieced together will create not only a successful brand activation but a strategy to be aligned with it. 

Determine the goals/outcome

Understanding the brand activation aims will essentially determine the brand activation event for the company. Alike other face-to-face events, brand activations should have goals set by the organising company to ensure they come out of the activation as it being a success. For many brand activation events, the goals may surround increasing awareness of the brand, working to educate on a product release, or highlighting a certain element of an event. Pending the type of activation the goal and outcome may also include building lead generation and gaining revenue through either ticket sales or product sales. 

Determine the audience

Understanding the target audience will help support the type of brand activation event the company is considering. Often the audience of the brand activation aligns with the wider audience of the company. This may however be refined for brand activation, or shifted if the company is looking to explore a new audience. 

Consideration of the target audience will be required when looking at the cost, location, and format of the brand activation. Often a brand activation experience is hosted in a location nearest to their target audience to ensure their attendance is encouraged. 

Understand Analysis

Whilst analysing the performance of a successful brand activation is completed at the end of the event, it is important the company is set up from the launch to ensure it can be measured accurately. 

Analysis of brand activations can be measured in a number of ways, however likely through key metrics including attendance, revenue, and lead generation. Companies should ensure measurement tools like CRM software are connected ahead of launching a brand activation to ensure they get the most out of the event.

Types of brand activations

Whilst typically a brand activation is any event that brings engageable awareness to a business, there are a number of traditional experiential marketing practices that companies lean into. Pending the budget, goals, and audience of brand activation campaigns companies may look to adopt any one of the following brand activation examples.

In-store brand activation 

As suggested by its name an in-store brand activation looks to host an event or campaign with the initial store of a company. This type of campaign can work for both established brands that have a signature store, and those that are just starting out to minimise costs. In-store brand activations help support a personal connection with local existing and potential customers as it remains within their local area. The location of this type of activation also works due to minimised external limitations due to it being located in a space the company is familiar with. 

Social media Activation 

Whilst most brand activations are executed face to face, it is becoming increasingly more popular to execute them through social media. Social media is quickly becoming the facilitator to directly interact with anyone around the world, and interacting with brands is no exception to this. Social media platforms allow companies to generate brand awareness that goes far beyond a demographically local audience, social media engagement is a crucial element of digital campaigns. 

Beyond social media campaigns, companies may look to extend their awareness through influencer marketing. If there is a limited boosting budget or an account is small, tapping into influencers not only provides further reach but provides validity to the brand due to the influencer’s reputation.  

Experiential Marketing

One of the most successful brand activations is experiential marketing, which based on the name revolves around the target audience experiencing the activation face to face. Whilst different experiential activities provide unique experiences many will involve sampling campaigns, whereby the audience can try new services or free samples. Marketing efforts like free samples allow the consumer to trial a product before needing to buy them which is often favoured with a new brand or product.

Aligned with sampling campaigns, this gives the companies an opportunity to increase brand awareness through consumer word of mouth. The audience is likely to tell their network about a product or service that they like. 

Experiential marketing also plays on exclusivity, allowing consumers to believe that they cannot receive this experience outside of the business’s brand activity. This further increases brand awareness as the consumer is more likely to share their experience with the activation.

Pop Up Stores

A pop-up store is a temporary business presence that companies can adapt to create tactility with their audience. Pop-up stores are quickly becoming popular for those businesses that cannot sustain a physical shop front, but like to connect with their audience and have a physical presence for a specific period of time. Pop-up stores increase brand awareness by having a limited-edition experience for consumers to enjoy.

The term brand activation goes well beyond sharing a brand’s values and creating a presence. It is a practice that works to forge lasting emotional connections with audiences and is quickly becoming an imperative attribute of any marketing strategy.

Expo Centric understands the impact brand activations have on companies and their goals and has been working alongside businesses for many years to develop the perfect activation strategy for them. If you would like support in your upcoming brand activation, speak to one of our team members today. 

Love what you’ve learnt, but still not sure where to start? Speak with one of our expert team members today.


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