What is brand activation

Brand Activation is a marketing discipline, and is a relatively new term in the industry. Brand Activation is the art of driving consumer action through brand interaction and experiences. In simple terms, the key aim of these sorts of campaigns is to get consumers to act. It’s about bringing brands to life via experiences and forming long-term emotional connections.
Brand Activation campaigns take many forms and may involve some, or all of the following:
• Consumer promotions
• Experiential Marketing
• Digital campaigns
• Shopper Marketing
• Sampling campaigns
Best practiceBrand Activation is strategically-led and delivers measurable results, with a focus on ROI (Return On Investment).
I often find that real world examples help when I’m trying to explain what I do. Working in such a rapidly evolving industry and in my role as a judge on local and international awards shows, I have certainly seen the best of the best. Two examples of outstanding Brand Activation campaigns that come to mind are ‘NRMA Car Creation’ and ‘SickKids Pain Squad’ out of Canada. The NRMA Car Creation won the Grand Prix at last year’s industry awards show, the Australasian Promotional Marketing Association (APMA) Star Awards.
Streaming a team of eight mechanics live on the internet, and providing several platforms for public interaction and influence, a working car was built from scratch using the car parts that competitors did not cover in their insurance policies. The campaign resulted in 3.373 million enquiries in the first 8 months following its launch. There is no question that the NRMA Car Creation campaign was a worthy winner of the APMA’s top award, not only due to the impressive results, but because it allowed consumers to actively engage with the brand in a dynamic, fun and memorable way – brand activation at its finest.
SickKids Pain Squad is a great example as it highlights the diversity that abounds in the Brand Activation space. The campaign did not aim to sell any products, it went far beyond that and changed sick children’s lives for the better.
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto needed to find a way to encourage their young cancer patients to complete daily reports on their pain. With a little back-up from Canada’s top police dramas in the form of filmed messages of encouragement and prizes to incentivise, the mobile app made this overwhelming task easy and fun.
While Brand Activation campaigns can achieve outstanding results, conducting a Brand Activation campaign that is not aligned with brand strategy and doesn’t stem from a brand insight should always be avoided.
To activate a campaign successfully, you need a mix of the following elements: insight, budget, concept, consumer interest, promotional support, sufficient time in market, eye catching creative and, an important point to consider from the outset, a brand that will respond well to Brand Activation. The right mix is critical to campaign success. If the creative is not captivating, the prize not aspirational, the campaign not promoted or the promotion not given enough time in market, etc, the Brand Activation campaign may not meet the objectives set at the outset. There really is a science behind getting the formula correct.

My top five Dos and Don’ts for Brand Activation are as follows:
1. Brand Activation should be considered as a vital part of the overall marketing approach, or marketing mix, and not a standalone discipline. With this in mind, it is important that the resources and budget are in place from the start in order to meet objectives and ensure the best results.
2. Campaigns may need to be tweaked or changed to suit market conditions and due to this testing is a great way to sound out a campaign before a national rollout.
3. Consider all the options available to you within the Brand Activation space and work out which is the best option for your brand and budget, and most importantly which tactic will get you the best return on investment based on the campaign objectives.
4. Get a great agency to help you! There are specialist Brand Activation agencies that are experts in this space and are dedicated to creating campaigns that deliver on brand objectives.
5. It’s not all about sales. Brand Activation campaigns can generate trial, awareness, brand switching and brand loyalty. It’s all about employing the right tactics.