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Brand Activation Events & Campaigns to Elevate Customer Experience

Brands need a strategy to stand out and differentiate themselves in a crowded, noisy market. Experiential events and brand activation campaigns are great ways to get the ball rolling—whether for a new product launch or an exciting brand refresh.

Heard Global specializes in brand activations, tours and product launch campaigns with an in-depth understanding of every clients’ brand goals alongside their nuances and core values.

What is Brand Activation?

Today's customers are a demanding lot! They seek out experiences rather than merely picking up a product they need—keeping brand managers on their toes to devise imaginative ideas for an outstanding customer experience.

Brand activation (in the traditional sense) is any campaign, event or experience that helps companies engage directly with their target audience and spread awareness about a product or service.

Typically, it's all about hyping up your brand and its purpose, without being too gimmicky.

Activate Your Brand to Engage Your People

There is a second, more subtle layer of meaning to how we use the term “brand activation” in modern marketing. For example, when we say 'activate your brand,' we're talking about ways to cultivate deeper, personal connections between the brand and its target audience. So, in a sense, it's a way of 'activating' or focusing on the customer.

Each brand has a unique audience and a specific goal for the brand activation campaign. Therefore, brand managers must personalize the brand activation using creative ways to reach their customers and engage them in a meaningful way. In other words, targeting the right customers at the right moment with the right message.

A successful brand activation generates momentum beyond the event and nudges consumers to take some action (thus achieving the campaign's goal). As said earlier, it's a matter of reaching the right audience at the right moment in a way that speaks to them.

Heard Global provides the elements you need for a stellar brand activation campaign, from trade show exhibits, mobile displays, product launch events, pop-up stores or stalls, up to last-mile event presence, staffing and security.

Building an Effective Brand Activation Campaign

When a brand activation campaign creatively aligns with the audience's mindset and is executed flawlessly, you can bring your brand to life! In-person, in-store or event-based brand activation campaigns build awareness for your brand and even help you reshape how your audience perceives your brand. Just remember that the interactions with the audience must be inclusive, if not interactive, if you want to build a loyal community of brand advocates (or fans).

Heard Global manages brand campaigns and activation events from concept and ideation to on-site presence and staffing. Our creative specialists are never short on ingenious ideas to wow your audience. In addition, our event team provides you with the best event security and staff to make your brand activation event a super success!

Five Ways to Launch a Brand Activation

#1 Spark their interest, give them something they love!

If your target audience loves football, hold a tailgating party event. If they love fashion, give them a unique photo opp with a fashion icon or influencer.

#2 Keep the focus solely on the audience

Base your campaign on some insight about your target audience. Then, plan an activity to surprise or entertain them, engage or reward them.

#3 Create shareable moments to amplify your brand's reach

Social media has the power to amplify a campaign and propel it into virality. Include a branded photo wall or social media booth at your event, and they're sure to take a photo and share it with friends and family—along with your brand's logo and message!

#4 Build up anticipation

Holding annual events builds up anticipation and piques the audience's curiosity about what surprises your next event will bring. Plus, it gives them something to look forward to and creates a loyal fan community.

#5 The right team matters!

You have a great product, an insight into your audience and a fabulous idea to launch an activation campaign. So how do you ensure flawless execution? Partner with an experienced event and brand activation company for tight implementation down to the finest detail—that's the secret to activation success!

The Benefits of Brand Activation Campaigns

Brand activation campaigns are considered indispensable for any multi-touch brand marketing plan. So, what makes these campaigns so successful? Let’s look at a handful of benefits:

  • Firstly, audiences are increasingly tuning out traditional ads—they no longer want brand messages thrown at them. Brand activation campaigns use immersive, inclusive strategies to engage fans instead of slapping out passive messages.

  • We recall messages better when we can emotionally relate to them or when they are presented innovatively. Activation campaigns are based on imaginative or innovative ways to communicate the brand's message, so they have a higher recall.

  • When we experience a brand with one or more of our senses, such as touch, taste or smell, we remember it for longer. Brand activation campaigns leverage this principle and engage audiences using sensory or experiential techniques.

  • A social element works well to convince us to buy a product. An in-person event or engaging activation campaign prompts audiences to share their excitement on social media, amplifying the brand's message.

The Top Companies Doing Brand Activation Right

Brand managers use different experiential events or campaigns to immerse their audiences in an experience of the brand and engage with it intensely enough to make it memorable. Here are some popular brand activation campaigns from the world's leading brands that have gained near-iconic status as activation success stories:

The Starbucks Sparkle Shop Success Story

Starbucks partnered with Canadian YouTube star LaurDIY to promote its new Teavana Sparkling Tea Juices line. Starbucks set up a pop-up store and invited LaurDIY fans to try their new carbonated beverages. Plus, fans got a signed tumbler and a photo op with LaurDIY! Many Toronto-based bloggers and influencers participated and shared their experiences on social media.

Why was the campaign a great success? LaurDIY is popularly known for her creativity and videos on handcrafted DIY stuff. Starbucks was targeting Canadian millennials for a highly customized product—carbonated teas. By aligning a unique, customized product launch with a niche influencer, Starbucks created a unique environment to introduce fans to their newest product.

When Zappos Outgoogled the Search Giant

Google put up a food truck in Austin to promote its Photos app, letting people pay for a giant gourmet cupcake with a photo taken with the Photos app. Branded with the hashtag #PayWIthAPhoto, the campaign was an instant hit - so, Zappos decided to piggyback on their strategy in a cheeky, memorable way.

Zappos quickly set up a makeshift box right opposite the Google food truck and launched a #PayWithACupcake! hashtag. They handed out Zappos products such as headphones, watches, backpacks, sunglasses and gift cards (essentially free) in exchange for cupcakes. (Zappos gave the cupcakes right back to the customers!)

What made the Zappos campaign a success? Their topicality, placement and clever thinking! Capitalizing on Google's ability to pull in the crowds, they surprised and entertained people with a parallel, can’t-miss campaign—and probably put a smile on many faces! Besides, who doesn't love swag campaigns?

Drumming up the Power of Social with the Dunkin' Social Sweepstakes

When Dunkin' introduced iced beverages called Refreshers, they launched an activation campaign with an irresistible weekend giveaway trip in a Dunkin' branded RV.

The campaign created waves—Dunkin' had leveraged a trend. Consumers avoided flights during the pandemic and opted for road trips instead. Dunkin' used this insight to promote its new Refreshers line of cold drinks to engage road trippers, who were the perfect audience for Dunkin'!

Heard Global: Your inspiration for a stellar brand activation campaign

Feeling inspired? Have a product or launch that needs a clever brand activation direction? Engage us to activate your brand and elevate the brand experiential approach to a new level.

Contact Heard Global today to learn more about our brand activation tours - plus, follow @heardglobal on Instagram to see exclusive takeovers from our brand activation and event experts.

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