A starter lesson in brand activation

You’ll be happy to learn that brand activation isn’t just the next marketing buzzword. It can play an interesting and valuable part in your marketing efforts. Once you’ve got to grips with who your brand is, what you want to do and who your customers are, it’s time to get them to do something.

A starter lesson in brand activation
Giles Taylor writes for W/Brand Design Blog
Giles Taylor, February 22, 2023

In this article, we’ll be looking at what brand activation means, why it’s essential and some examples. Let’s jump in.

What is meant by brand activation?

Put simply; brand activation is any interaction where a brand drives a customer to take action.

Think about your brand. If nobody knows who you are, they’re not aware of you. Even if you have the best branding and the best products, there’s no point in any of it if people don’t even know you exist. Your brand needs to be activated before it can start progressing.

Whether it’s through an event, a campaign, or an email - whatever it may be - brand activation opens the door for your customers to engage with you directly. In doing so, it makes you known to potential customers.

Why is brand activation important?

As with most areas of digital marketing, brand activation is crucial as it helps you to stand out in a saturated market.

For example, if your brand is new, you know your audience well, but they’re yet to know you. Brand activation is the important process of presenting your brand and creating a connection with your audience. One that hopefully makes them take action in the way you want them to.

Brand activation examples

It may help to see some examples in action.

The renowned tea brand, Yorkshire Tea, is well known for doing justice with its marketing. Although not a new brand, their marketing campaigns often involve tapping into current events or using relevant celebrities to engage their customers in a memorable way. Examples include:

  • Serving Yorkshire Tea from a converted ice cream van
  • Using born and bred Yorkshire man, Sean Bean, to star in one of their campaigns on getting things done ‘the proper way’
  • Releasing a social distancing teapot during the height of COVID restrictions

Brand activation process

If you want to make a buzz around your brand and get people talking, activation is a good place to start. And for that, you need a strategy. Let’s take a look at some top-level thoughts on how to get that strategy in place:

1) Make sure you know who your brand is

Before jumping in, you need to make sure you’re clear on who your brand is and what it stands for. A good way of doing this is by taking part in brand immersion to really get to the nitty-gritty of your value and how you want to position yourself.

2) Make sure you know who your audience is

What is a brand without its audience? Before taking a random guess with no research or evidence to back it up, it’s important to understand who your audience is so you can meet their needs.

It’s a known fact in marketing that customers prefer to engage with marketing that is tailored to them. That’s why you need to take the time to research the demographics, interests, wants, likes, dislikes and traits of your ideal customer. Creating buyer personas can be a huge help in this area.

3) Consider how to best reach your audience

There are countless ways to interact with your audience, but not every approach will be right for your brand. From interactive games to product demonstrations, email marketing campaigns to social media influencers, pop-up shops to events, it’s important to choose a method that suits your objectives and budget.

4) Take a look at the wider market

Don’t let the excitement of speaking to your audience take over. Before jumping into campaigns, events and other forms of marketing, you need to look at the wider market and what is going to work best for you.

An effective process could be to complete a SWOT analysis to understand your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats before looking at the wider market and your competitors too. This will allow you to better grasp where you sit in the market and how you compare to the competition.

Link up your efforts

Once you’ve gathered the research and analysed the results, it’s time to bring it together into a coherent strategy. But remember, the marketing world has more channels than ever before so it’s important to consider your strategy holistically if you want it to have the most impact. Look at how you can link up the activation experiences across various touchpoints to gain a better result.

For example, if you are running a physical pop-up event in a city centre, it’s important to shout about it on your social media platforms. This not only ensures the campaign gets the exposure it needs to attract a crowd, but it also ensures your marketing efforts are consistent across the board. After all, there’s no point putting time, money, resources and effort into something if you don’t promote it well.

How to measure brand activation

Success should not be measured solely by the number of sales. While increased revenue is often the end goal for many marketers, creating an emotional connection, raising awareness and building a loyal audience who will return time and time again is extremely important.

Here are some areas you could look at to see how your activation strategy has performed:

  • Engagement: Whether it’s followers, sales, mentions, comments, likes or interactions across email, your website and social media.
  • Customer acquisition: Did your number of customers, sales and revenue increase?
  • Metrics: How is your campaign performing on all fronts? Track performance and engagement as it happens at live events.

Activating your brand

The aim is to get your audience to feel something. Whether you make your audience laugh, feel excited, feel empathy or sadness, creating an emotional connection is the first part of getting your audience to remember you. Then you can go forward, continue engaging with them, encouraging them to take action and hit those all-important objectives on the head.

Giles Taylor writes for W/Brand Design Blog

Giles Taylor

Giles is the founder and creative director for W/Brand. A graphic designer from Reading in Berkshire, UK, he's a dad with two wonderful children who enjoys walking and playing the guitar.  

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