What is brand activation?
Have you ever noticed when you go to buy a popular brand’s product, do you ever stop to ask yourself, how did they become so trustworthy and admired?
When a product is first manufactured it is virtually unknown to the general public.
Take Volvo as an example. when the company tried to enter into the US car market in 1962, Americans knew very little about this Swedish car maker.
Through the uses of consumer engagement marketing channels, such as memorable ad campaigns, experiential events, viral growth, and consumer participation strategies, Volvo managed to gain the acceptance of the American consumer as being a tough and reliable automobile.
Sales tripled within five years with the campaign “drive it like you hate it” being a huge success.
The process of making a brand well known and loved by consumers is called brand activation.
Consumer brand activations are a very crucial part of building a positive perception of a brand
This can be done through product samplings, in-store retail marketing, sponsorships, and experiential events.
This also encompasses the brand figuring out a few core features that will distinguish them amongst their competition in crowded marketplaces. They have to find brand positioning that will uncover assets that will highlight long term benefits to the company.
Brands must find a way to reach potential customers that can shift perceptions and create a real emotional engagement. These marketing events must bring up positive feeling in the minds about them in order for them to become loyal customers and purchase their products.
- To inspire demand for a particular brand, they must tap into the consumers’ passions using creative strategies and ideas.
- Timing plays an important role in connecting consumers at the right time, and the right place so that the consumer becomes a motivated user and fan of the brand.
- Using activation strategies, such as in person experience events, this can lead to the consumer starting to believe in the brand and what it stands for, which is a closer step in the path to purchase.
Brand activation case study
Here is an example of how brand activation can work. Pirelli Tires relies heavily on a strategy built on key partnerships with Formula One grand prix events, in order to promote its tires as being high performance.
There is a huge value with being a part of this world class racing event, as is the value of the premier performance and technology of the tires.
Having the name and logo as a part of the F1 racing circuit emotionally engages the consumer and all fans of racing, since the events are associated with high performance vehicles and expert driving.
Strategies for implementing a consumer brand activation campaign:
Live experiential marketing events are being used by global brands to help position the brand into the consumers’ minds by attracting and emotionally engaging them in personal experience.
These events give people a chance to try a product, ask questions about it and participate in some way that makes them feel apart of the brand.
This can be achieved by blending physical and digital experiences together, so that the participants are encouraged to play apps and games, have their photos taken or ride on virtual reality car and bike simulators.
The purpose is to reach people on multiple levels (emotional, rational, psychological) so that they walk away from event remembering what is was like to touch, taste, and feel the product rather than just reading about it.
Promotional marketing involves raising awareness of your brand and its products in order to generate more sales and gain a loyal customer base.
The targeting of promotional marketing can take many forms, it can be targeted at businesses, to retail and wholesale companies or it can targeted at the end consumer. Consumer promotions can be executed by using reward loyalty programs, giveaways, special offers, product samplings as well as point of sale displays.
Business promotions can used in workshops, event sponsorships, trade show booths and direct mail campaigns. Wholesale trade promotions may consist of using incentives, or providing entertainment value or other methods like bonuses to reward resllers.
In store retail marketing
In store retail marketing activations can help a customer choose one brand over another inside a department store. It helps to enhance the image of a product or brand and as well as feature the benefits it offers or introduce the lifestyle associated with purchasing the product.
There are different types of retail marketing, a brand can be activated using point of purchase displays, attractive design or hosting, retail product launch experiences that allow consumers to experience and try a particular product.
For example, Ray-Ban launched a retail consumer activation tour called ‘Never Hide’ inside a number of high department stores, which engaged consumers by allowing them to try on the new polarized sunglasses and encouraged them have their photos taken inside a branded Ray-Ban photo booth.
Other engagement activities involved participants playing the Guitar hero simulator while wearing the shades.
Metrics for brand activation campaigns
When you want to create a brand activation campaign, the underlying objective should be to develop a face to face two way conversation with your customers.
Consumer brand activations help to bring life into a company and can build a very loyal fan base. The caveat is you need to create engaging and memorable experiences that strike real emotions with your consumer.
Here is a list of some of the measurement factors to keep in mind.
- Consumer reach. How many targeted consumers would this campaign activation touch and reach? Is it a national scale, worldwide tour, city wide or hyper local?
- Brand relevance. Is this activation strategy and campaign relevant to the brand’s message and core values?
- Return on investment. Can you measure the benefits vs the cost? Activation awareness campaigns should not always be measured in financial terms and sales. Were you able to capture consumer data, such as emails, social media followers and other future marketing leads and opportunities?
- Long term potential. Do these activations campaigns give the brand any potential to gain sizeable long term benefits?
- Integration capabilities. Will this brand activation campaign compliment and have the ability to integrate with other types of marketing channels within the company?
- Uniqueness. Does your brand have a unique value or selling proposition that get consumers attention and make them want to talk about it?
- Amplification. Is it possible if needed to be able to make changes in order to increase the amplification of the overall activation campaign?
Advantages of consumer brand activations
Here are a few of the benefits of consumer activations:
- Brand activation events, the consumer can give you feedback on what to change or improve as they are interacting with you.
- It can bring life into an aging brand and even reach younger Millennials audiences.
- It can help to reinforce the brand’s positioning in the minds of the consumer.
- Helps to cut through the traditional advertising clutter (TV Commercials, Print, Web Ads)
- It makes your brand more prominent.
Do not underestimate the influence of experiential brand activations can play shaping the future and now relevance of a brand.
Brand activations are not meant to be measured in terms of sales made. Instead, they should be viewed as a way to generate awareness and visibility for a company through cultivating real life engagement experiences with the target consumer.