Brand Activation and Its Role in Building Brands

brand activationWhenever you go shopping for a certain popular brand, have you always paused to think how did this brand has come to be so popular? By all means, when that product was first introduced, it was virtually unknown outside of its factory. However, through the use of a combination of several consumer engagement platforms, such as advertising, viral growth, and user experiences, the brand managed to gain consumer acceptance. This process of bringing a particular brand to life is known as brand activation.

Brand activation is an indispensable part of the evolution of any brand. It involves analyzing the core values or features-usually one or two features- of a brand that can help it distinguish it in a crowded marketplace. In other words, it involves looking deeper into the brand to find the possibilities, its position and strategy to spot assets that offer benefits to the company in the long-run. Customers must have a real emotional engagement with your brand; it must evoke positive feelings within their hearts and minds in order to convince them to buy your product.

Principles of Brand Activation

  • To ignite the demand for the brand, we must activate the consumer’s passion using the power of a huge idea.
  • We must connect the consumer emotionally with the brand at the right time, in the right way and in the right place in order to motivate the consumer to be committed to the brand.
  • By turning the idea into action, this makes it easier for the consumer to believe in the brand, paving the way for him or her to make the purchase.


Let’s have a look at this example that simplifies how brand activation works. For Shell to promote its VPower brand, it relies on a strategy built on partnership with Ferrari autos. Its extrinsic value is this partnership, while the intrinsic value is the brand’s engine cleaning power. This emotionally engages the consumer in a deep way, as Ferrari cars are associated with superior engine performance.

How to Implement a Process For Brand Activation

There are various methods you can use to activate your brand:

Promotional Marketing

This is one of the most efficient and quickest methods of brand activation. As the name suggests, it involves raising awareness of your product in order to generate sales and build a loyal consumer base.  Promotional marketing can be targeted at final consumer (consumer promotions), or to wholesalers and retailers (trade promotions), business customers (business promotions) or sales force members (sales force promotions).

Consumer promotions involve using loyalty reward programs, special offers, celebrity endorsements, samplings, competitions and bonuses as well as point of sale display materials. Business promotions are carried out using trade show displays, workshops and seminars, event sponsorship, direct mail campaigns and telemarketing and, conference presentations and newsletters. Sales force promotions involve using commissions or competitions with awards or prizes. Lastly, trade promotions involve corporate entertainment, giving incentives to resellers, bonus stocks and competitions.

Events & Seminars

Holding a key event plays a huge role in positioning the brand into the minds of consumers and attracting and engaging potential consumers. Such events provide a platform for engaging in discussions with consumers to answer any queries they may have about the brand. Most consumers prefer using a product that has been recommended by someone, or which they have no qualms about.

Retail Marketing

Just as advertising stimulates the demand for a product in the mind of a consumer, retail marketing helps a customer choose one product/brand over the other. It helps enhance the image of the brand or product, and states the benefits the consumer will obtain by using it. In retail marketing, a brand can be activated using attractive design, installation of promotional shelves and point of purchase displays.

Evaluating Brand Activation

When drawing your brand activation strategy, the primary objective should always to develop a two-way conversation with your consumers. Brand activations help you bring your brand to life, and hence to build consumer loyalty, you must cultivate a healthy relationship and emotional engagement between the brand and the consumers.

  • Is the brand ownable? Is it only restricted to your company only, not to your rivals?
  • Return on Investment: What the benefits offered relative to the cost? Are you able to measure it? It should not always be measured in financial terms. Are you able to gather data from emails, Twitter and Facebook followers, business leads, opportunities or engagements?
  • Long-term potential: Does the brand have any potential to earn sizeable returns for a long time?
  • Uniqueness: Does the brand have a unique value proposition (unique selling point) that will get consumers interested and talking about it?
  • Brand relevance: Is the activation strategy relevant to the brand? If not, it should be discarded in favor of one that works.
  • Expertise: Does the brand activation strategy gel well with your company’s unique selling point or expertise?
  • World Class: Would your peers or consumers view your activation program as world class?
  • Integration: Is the brand activation program capable of integrating well with several marketing channels and creative platform?
  • Consumer Reach: How many targeted consumers would the program reach? Is it international, city-wide, national or province-wide?
  • Amplification: Is it possible to make changes to and amplify the activation strategy?

Advantages of Brand Activation

The following are some of the benefits of brand activation:

  • It helps revitalize your flagging brand
  • It minimizes distortion
  • If you use it carefully, it can support your advertising claim
  • It makes your brand more prominent
  • Through brand activation, consumers can give you further ideas on how to improve the brand as they interact with it.
  • It helps you convey your positioning in the minds of consumers.

Drawbacks of Brand Activation

  • Lack of measurements indices or matrices:
  • Brand managers may lack initiative to roll out the brand activation strategy: Even if they do, they may not be aware of how to successfully roll out the activation strategy.

What Brand Managers Need to Do

Brand managers must clearly know who the target audience is, and what the brand symbolizes. The activation strategy should then be broken down into a guide that indicates what should be done and what should not be done. Normally, the brand activation process shows how the brand-marketing activities will be approached and managed.

You must clearly identify and state what the brand position is. Furthermore, the brand activation campaign should be managed by employees instead of third-party consultants. This is because employees will do everything to ensure the activation process is successful unlike marketing consultants.

You should never underestimate the influence that brand activation can play in shaping the future of the brand. If you successfully implement the process, the brand will be able to attract more consumers and still retain its market share. If this process is botched, the result will be a brand that will perform poorly in the market, leading to loss of market share.


In conclusion, don’t confuse brand activation with below-the-line activities, which are mostly sales-oriented. Instead, brand activation should be viewed as a process that aims to build the visibility of a brand through real engagement with target consumers.