20 Brand Activation Ideas
Looking to grow awareness for your company and reach more of the consumers who really matter? These 20 brand activation ideas will help you connect with your target audience in authentic ways that move the needle for your organization.
As a business owner or marketing professional, you're always looking to reach more people with your brand's message, products and services. Unfortunately, this isn't always an easy thing to do. With so much noise on the internet and competitors fighting for market share, how can your company ever break through?
It sounds like you need to invest in a brand activation strategy. This post will explain what "brand activation" means, and 20 ideas you can use to better connect with consumers.
What is a Brand Activation?
Brand activation is a relatively new term in the marketing world, becoming popular within the last few years. It plays a crucial role in any multi-touch event marketing plan.
Basically, brand activation is the process of building awareness for a company by engaging directly with target audiences consumers. This can be done through different event types or marketing campaigns, as long as the effort results in a specific consumer experience that builds a company's notoriety.
If this definition seems broad to you, that's because brand activation can be initiated in so many different ways. The rest of this blog post will explore 20 ideas and case studies you can use and learn from to grow awareness for your company.
20 Ideas to Activate Your Brand
1. Promote Unique Customer Experiences - Contours
One key to creating a great consumer experience is making it unique; something your audience hasn't seen or done before. Contours' Baby Stroller Test Ride is a perfect example. The company built adult-sized strollers for parents to ride in and gain first-hand knowledge of their product quality. How many adults can claim that they've recently ridden in a stroller? Not many, which makes this campaign one of a kind.
2. Encourage Customer Promotion - Sonic
We live in a social media-driven world. If your audience isn't talking about your company on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you aren't connecting with them as well as you could be. Sometimes the best way to generate social buzz is to simply encourage your audience to post about your brand. That's what Sonic did for an experiential marketing campaign at the Coachella music festival. The fast food chain sold square-shaped shakes to concert goers, perfectly sized for Instagram posts, and only available for purchase through the picture-sharing platform.
3. Solve Customer Problems - Vitaminwater
When you get down to it, why does anybody buy anything? Because it solves some kind of problem. To raise awareness for your company, provide your audience with solutions to their challenges. Vitaminwater expertly incorporated this tactic into their WayHome Music Festival event strategy by building a human car wash. What problem does every summer festival attendee deal with? The heat. By creating a fun misting station, Vitaminwater solved this issue, while promoting their brand.
4. Give Your Audience What they Want - Durango Boots
Source: Boots and Hearts
Durango Boots knows exactly who their products are for: proud cowboys and cowgirls. They also understand that a ride on El Diablo the mechanical bull would be a fun experience for most of their target demographic. So they simply set up the bull and let event attendees ride to their heart's content. Brand activation doesn't need to be complex. You just need to know your audience and give them what they want.
5. Capitalize on Specific Trends - Innocent Drinks
One of the more creative brand activation examples on this list, Innocent Drinks helped grow company awareness by opening a popup bar with only one way to order: share a picture on social media and tag it with the brand's unique emoji hashtag. By capitalizing on the emoji trend, Innocent was able to draw millennial customers into their tiki-themed "Coconut Watering Hole" and promote their beverages.
6. Make Learning About Your Company's History Fun - Bloomingdale's
Source: Museum Hack
The history of your company; where, why, and how your brand got started, is important. It can help consumers better connect with your organizational values and builds trust with them. But rather than simply telling their audience their story, Bloomingdale's created an interactive scavenger hunt. Attendees learned about the unique history of the store, while completing fun tasks. As an added bonus, many photos taken during the event were posted to social media, giving Bloomingdale's extra press.
7. Make Your Event Exclusive - Radius
Radius knows a thing or two about B2B event marketing. They periodically host an invite-only, executive dinner in New York City to educate attendees on B2B revenue growth, networking, and the buyer's journey. While hosting an exclusive event or experience obviously means excluding a portion of your audience, your company will develop a strong bond with those invited and they'll be much more likely to spread the word about your brand.
8. Make Use of Technology - Ready Player One
Source: VR Focus
Technology opens up so many doors for marketing activation. The marketing team behind Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie, Ready Player One, expertly used virtual reality to engage movie goers through a virtual treasure hunt game. How can your company use technology to connect with consumers? Just using tools like event software can greatly assist your brand activation efforts.
9. Include Your Team - Warby Parker
Source: Warby Parker
Want to grow awareness for your brand? Get your team involved and they'll be your greatest promotional assets. Warby Parker, the online glasses maker, gets this. During the pool party they hosted at the Standard Hotel in Los Angeles, Warby staff members walked around with mirrors and carts of glasses for guests to try on and purchase.
10. Tap Into Customer Aspirations - Guinness
Aspirational marketing is often reserved for luxury brands, but it may benefit your brand activation and event marketing strategies too, regardless of what you sell. What is it? It's simply associating a company with something it's target audience aspires to. Guinness hit the nail on the head with their Guinness Class campaign. Those who bought one of their beers while the promotion lasted were entered into the running for a grand prize: a free trip to Dublin, on a private jet, for themselves and four friends. Who doesn't aspire to own a private jet?
11. Partner with Influencers - Starbucks
Source: Marketing Mag
To promote their new line of Teavana teas, Starbucks opened a pop up "Sparkle Shop" in Toronto and partnered with glitter-crazed YouTuber, LaurDIY, to promote it. Influencer marketing has grown in popularity over the last few years and can increase event ROI when done properly. Look for an influencer with a complementary audience to yours. Then strike up an arrangement that's mutually beneficial.
12. Shock Your Audience - Lipton Iced Tea
Want to raise awareness for your brand and be remembered? Do something nobody expects, like erect an enormous, bright yellow water slide, in the middle of London, in full view of morning commuters. That’s what Lipton Iced Tea did. When curious onlookers gathered to see what the commotion was all about, Lipton handed out free samples of their products and encouragements to #BeADaybreaker. Pretty brilliant, right?
13. Make Your Event Interactive - IKEA
Here's an event activation idea: get your attendees involved and make your gathering interactive. IKEA is known for inexpensive furniture for DIYers and to-die-for Swedish meatballs. That's why the Dining Club pop up restaurant worked so well. Diners prepared their own meals, under the supervision of professional chefs, to serve their family and friends. What can you do to involve your clients and customers at your next pop up or account-based marketing event?
14. Connect Your Brand to Something Your Audience Loves - DirecTV
Source: Alt Terrain
One of the easiest ways to increase company awareness is to connect your brand to something your audience already loves. What do many DirecTV customers love? Sunday NFL Football. To capitalize on this, DirecTV hosted a Boston area tailgating experience. Attendees were able to watch football games on giant TVs, play fun games and eat food, and take photos with branded props. This event was successful because it was fun, different, and showed consumers tangible benefits of having the DirecTV service.
15. Give Customers Something to Look Forward to - Refinery29
Promoted as, "an incredible playground for adults", 29Rooms is a now annual event hosted by lifestyle brand, Refinery29. The 29 different rooms, created in conjunction with various musicians and companies, are designed and curated to produce a different experience relating to a specific theme. Not only is this annual event extremely creative and fun, it gives attendees something to look forward to, which keeps Refinery29 at the forefront of their audience' minds.
16. Help Your Customers Do Good - Misereor
Source: Kolle Rebbe
We all want to (hopefully!) do good in the world and help people. Sometimes it's just hard to know where to start. Maybe your company can bring light to certain issues, and promote your brand at the same time. That's what Misereor did with their SocialSwipe campaign by setting up digital posters inside airports. The posters would display world problems and allow people to donate money to specific causes. Each donor then receive a thank you message on their bank statement. How cool is that?
17. Promote Your Company Values - Ben & Jerry's
Source: The Drum
A successful brand activation event will promote a company's values. Values are what turn casual customers into raving fans of a business. Ben & Jerry's gets it. They're one of the most values-driven brands out there and regularly promote environmental causes. These values led to the Big Ice Screening Film Festival, where eight movies were screened over a three day period and made possible by green technology. What does your brand stand for? Now create an event that supports those things.
18. Demonstrate New Product Features - Apple
New product? How about an old product with new features? Either way, it's time to exploit these updates and activate your brand. Apple's "One Night on iPhone 7" campaign is a great example. For the global event, the tech titan enlisted photographers from all over the world to capture images on their new iPhones in order to showcase the device's new low-light camera features. The result was a stunning array of photographs and a confident display of the iPhone's improved camera.
19. Address Customer Objections - Lucozade Sport
What keeps consumers from using your company's products or services? Maybe it's time to address it head on like Lucozade Sport did with their "Wait Training" brand activation campaign. Many adults complain that they simply don't have time for things like working out. Lucozade removed excuses by streaming live fitness instructors on bus stop TV screens and encouraging people to exercise while waiting. Bottles of Lucozade sport drink were then given after the workout.
20. Partner With Other Brands - Grillo's Pickles
Earlier we talked about partnering with influencers, but what about a partnership with another company? Find a non-competing brand with a similar audience to yours. Then tap into their audience like Grillo's Pickles did when they partnered with a local brewery to craft a pickle flavored beer for the Boston Pickle Fair. Collaborations like these can be quite lucrative. In fact, Grillo's beer was so popular, it sold out at the event and there's talk of bringing it back some time in the future.
Key Takeaways: Your Brand Activation
From brand activation examples to corporate event ideas, the twenty tactics in this blog post will help you better connect with consumers and grow brand awareness. Here are a few main takeaways:
- Focus on your audience. How can you benefit your audience with your events? Will you solve their problems, surprise them, or make their aspirations come true? Having this kind of mindset will naturally translate into more customers and sales.
- Make your experiences shareable. The easier it is for consumers to share their experiences with your company on social media, the more often they will. How can you making sharing simple or rewarding? Answer this and your brand's following will shower you with free promotion.
- Strive for excellence by differentiation. No event is perfect. Not everything will go exactly according to plan. But all great events strive to exceed expectations and provide unique experiences. How can your company get creative and make your next event unforgettable?
Once you find the right brand activation idea, don't waste any time planning your next event. Get started today.