Brand activation is a one-time event, campaign, or interaction created to increase brand awareness by evoking strong emotions and memories. These events typically have an element of surprise and creativity and can involve multiple touchpoints.
Brand activation strategies are great ways to launch a new product line, introduce a new location, announce a rebrand or a new business, and rise above the competition.
The key difference between brand activation strategies and other branding and marketing initiatives is that they are one-time events designed to evoke strong memories of a brand.
Why Do We Need Brand Activation Strategies?
With so much competition in the market today for many B2C companies, brands must find ways to stand out and create experiences that make consumers think of them first. At the same time, they need to build trust and loyalty to ensure long-lasting relationships that drive ongoing revenues.
Brand activation strategies are designed to provide memorable events that can form long-lasting emotional connections. They are very much about relationship building and creating customer loyalty. Along with generating brand awareness, these events and campaigns can improve brand recall and drive consumers to take action.
Types of Brand Activation Strategies
There are a few types of brand activation, most falling under the umbrella of experiential marketing, where the consumer gets to experience a product first-hand. All types listed below can include a combination of online and offline touches.
In-store Promotions or Events: A brand can create a special one-time event in-store to promote a new product or location. One example is to have an influencer visit a store for a product launch party and live stream the event. Another example is a pop-up store in a prime location to announce a new store location coming soon for a brand (Lush has done this to announce new location openings).
Sampling Campaigns: Brands get consumers to try their products through sampling campaigns. These campaigns have changed since the pandemic, with individual package samples now used. For example, A&W Restaurants has a food truck that goes to different locations and provides burgers or coffee samples. It records their reactions and uses them in advertising. Other brands have influencers or celebrities sample their products live on their Instagram or Tiktok accounts.
Product Giveaways: Social media marketing campaigns are perfect for holding product giveaways. In some cases, the brand involves an influencer announcing a contest where consumers can win a product or basket of products by liking the post or sharing it with their friends. In other cases, the brand makes the announcement directly. In both cases, the brand outlines how the contest works and what consumers must do.
Reward/Loyalty Program: Brands can get consumers to sign up for their loyalty programs by offering a special one-time reward - such as a free product or double/triple points. Loyalty program customers can also be invited to one-time special events that help increase loyalty - such as a special invitation to an in-store shopping party to see a new product line or a new season of clothing before other consumers.
In all these brand activation campaign examples, the event or campaign isn’t an ongoing campaign but a one-time special event designed to surprise consumers and create brand awareness in a memorable way.
Brand Activation Examples
The examples above described some examples of brand activation. Here are a few more from well-known brands.
Lipton Iced Tea
Lipton Iced Tea set up a giant yellow waterslide in the middle of downtown London, handing out free samples to promote a new campaign centered around summer fun.
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Ikea took a different take on Black Friday by creating the #bringbackFriday event, where customers could selling back their furniture to the brand. In addition, consumers could estimate the amount of cash they would get using an online calculator before selling their furniture.
Many brands leverage celebrities for contests. In this example, celebrity Tori Spelling announced a contest in paid partnership with a number of brands.