Brand activation: Should you be doing it?

Marketing buzz words and phrases come and go; we all know that. But ‘brand activation’ – the strategy of using interactive campaigns and experiences that inspire your customers to engage with the brand – is, we think, here to stay. And if it’s not part of your marketing plan, maybe it should be!

The beauty of brand activation is that your campaign can take just about any form – be it a digital campaign, shopper marketing, consumer promotion or experiential marketing. The aim is a best-practice campaign that’s aligned with your brand strategy, is measurable and focused on ROI.

How does it differ from other advertising? Well, it’s edgy. Cool. Perhaps a little bit strange or funny. Or offers an epic experience for consumers that (hopefully) takes on a life of its own. A good campaign can bring your brand to life, go viral and inspire consumers to take part – either physically (by pressing something, turning up to something, engaging in an experience) or digitally (using hashtags and social media to win a product or let others know about it).

Bottom line: if you stir your customers’ emotions, you drive them to act. And while it can translate into more sales for your brand, it’s not ALL about sales – a good brand activation campaign can generate awareness, brand loyalty and brand switching if you use the right strategies.

Why does brand activation work?

Many reasons, but one is because social media platforms are so saturated. There’s this animated gif and that flashing call to action, and don’t get me started on the pop-ups you have to click through to get to the actual content.

Brand activation is a way to cut through all the noise, giving your customers an emotional, touchy-feely experience that’s fun, memorable and motivating.

Great brand activation campaigns we loveBrand activation: Cadbury's Easter Egg Campaign

From giant chickens trying to give you a hug outside a bank to an interactive soda machine dispensing free drinks if you give it a hug (see the Coke video above) , it’s hard to miss the amazing brand activation campaigns out there. And isn’t that the whole point?

One of our favourites was the Easter campaign Golin ran for Cadburys, which involved dropping giant Easter eggs into Scotland’s Loch Ness. It got people talking, laughing (and salivating). Another fun idea was the Lipton Ice Tea ‘You’ll Never Lose Your Cool’ campaign, which offered misting zones across Sydney and Melbourne in public transport areas. You clicked a button to be sprayed with a cooling mist… and with any luck, got thirsty for a Lipton Ice Tea.

Brand activation: Lipton Ice tea misting stationsAnd let’s not forget Volvo’s XC60 Inception campaign during last year’s Superbowl. The carmaker opted not to do a traditional TV ad, but rather launched a competition to run during the big game. Whenever any other car commercial aired during the game, Twitter users could tweet using the hashtag #VolvoContest to tell Volvo who they would give a brand new Volvo XC60 to if they had the chance. At the end of the competition, Volvo chose 5 winners and gave them a car. They not only captured people’s emotions, but they also cleaned the floor with all the other car advertisements who actually paid big bucks to BE on the telly during the game. Genius.

Our tips to a successful brand activation campaign

Good question. Ultimately, you’ll want the right team behind your campaign, a decent budget (to help get it out there) and a whizbang social media team who will work their butts off to engage the followers on your platform and coax the campaign into going viral. Here are four steps to getting started:

1. Think of a great idea that has synergy with your brand

2. Make sure it has an emotional or ‘touchy-feely’ component

3. Brainstorm all the ways you can let people know about it

4. Hire a great agency to help you and deliver on brand objectives

The fifth step is optional but something we think is super effective and can be easily tied into your campaign:

5. Give a branded ‘gift’ the customer can take away to remember you by.

Of course, it would be something tying into your campaign theme – but we have literally hundreds of options in our product catalogue, or just drop us a line and we’ll happily suggest a shortlist.

What’s your favourite brand activation campaign? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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