Why do you Need Brand Activation?

If your business is not a brand, it is a commodity. Here is why your business needs brand activations for an effective marketing strategy.

The last time when you needed a bottle of water, do you remember what you asked the shopkeeper for?

A bottle of water? Packaged drinking water?

Or did you ask for a Bisleri?

There is a greater chance that you did ask for Bisleri. Over the years, Bisleri has become synonymous with bottled water – this is the power of brands. Brand activation is the process that brings a brand to life – takes it from one state to a better state.


When you start out and introduce a product/service to the market, nobody knows who you are. Your brand is unborn.

Brand activation is the process of letting people know who you are and building an emotional connection with your target audience through continuous interaction. Building an emotional connect has always been important but it has become especially important today. In this article, we will look at some of the key reasons why this is so.

Also see: How to Plan a Successful Brand Activation Campaign

Get Ready for Voice Assistants

For years, the channel through which your product would reach your customers was physical stores. Brands fought to get a premium shelf space. The product had to be at the eye-level or just below – if it were on the bottom-most shelf, it will be bought less. You wanted a space near the check-out counter. You might have wanted to sit next to a complementary product – for example, if you were a jam, you wanted space near the bread. This changed as customers shifted to online shopping.

The rise of e-commerce took the fight to a different space, but it was still fight to occupy a premium spot – you wanted to be on the top of the listings on search results everywhere, you wanted your product on the homepage of the e-tailer.

Of course, you were also fighting for space in the customer’s mind – Duracell sold batteries thanks to the Duracell bunny – but brands like Kellogg’s won the shelf-space battle by ensuring that all possible flavors of cereals were provided for by them.

Also see: Augmented Reality Shopping is Changing the Way you Buy

But things have changed as people rely more and more on Alexas of the world for their shopping. They are more likely to ask Alexa to buy batteries or buy detergent than to buy a particular brand of detergent.

This allows the voice assistant to use their own algorithms to pick which “brand” to order. And, if a white label product is available – it is likely to order the same for the customer.  A test conducted in October ’17 found that Alexa was likely to order Amazon’s private brand 17% of the times if it existed, when a generic purchase was asked for. Even though, it makes only about 2% of sales in the product category.

The private brand battery provides about the same performance as Duracell, but it costs less – so the customer does not mind the switch at all. Therefore, the only way for brands to maintain an advantage is to activate their brand enough for the customer to ask for it by name.

Also see: Use Interactive Print Advertising to Skyrocket your Ad Revenue

Combating Ad Fatigue

The audience is bombarded with advertisements continuously – both in the offline and online space. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they have learned to tune them out.  Research has found that 86% of people today actively skip ads and try to block out traditional advertisements as much as possible. Further, 70% of today’s audience prefers to learn about a brand in ways other than traditional marketing.

Brand activation is a way to combat this audience fatigue and cut through the advertising clutter to reach them.

Brand activation focuses on creating interactions with the customer – both at a promotional brand activation event and through ongoing offline or online communications. Interactive engagement through innovative ways such as an experiential marketing campaign that uses augmented reality or mixed reality technology have been found to trigger long-term memory system increasing the brand recall among the participants.

It has also been found that the human brain captures far more information when it is presented in a novel and unexpected manner.

What better way to do this than through a creative promotional marketing event designed just to immerse your audience into the brand experience and the brand story !

Add value

Brand activation campaigns insist that every interaction with the target group should add value to them. This has become increasingly important as anything that feels like a push to sell the product is cut short by today’s audience.

The fight today is to ensure that the customer remembers you when she decides to buy and not to ensure that they place an order right after they interact with you.

Also see: 4 Ps of Experiential Marketing that you should consider during your Brand Activation Campaign

Remember that brands – at least as of now – cannot pay Amazon and Google to push their brands when the customer asks for a generic product like detergent. Thus, brands need to find ways through which they can hold the attention of the shoppers who use voice assistants. And the way to do this is by providing them with real value.

Take for example, Proctor & Gamble – the owner of brands like Tide and Pampers. They launched a Tide branded app for Alexa that advises the audience on how to remove 200 different kinds of stains.

Nowhere in the content do they promote their detergent. They believe that the customers would remember interacting with Tide for cleaning advice and will choose them when it is time for them to order detergent the next time around.

Unilever has taken a similar approach with apps that give out free recipes and cleaning tips.

Also see: 21 Brand Activation Ideas to get your Creative Juices Flowing

We are in a new age of marketing, and it is not more cool to interrupt the audience’s experience to push your brand – like the age-old TV commercials did.

Today, brands have to ensure that they are interacting with their audience only when they have an explicit permission to do so, and are doing it in ways that add value to their audience. Do not forget that it is a privilege to be able to interact with customers, and if they believe that the interactions are a disruption, then they can take that privilege away. Each interaction is an opportunity to activate and promote your brand – but that does not mean that you should use it to overwhelmingly push for a sale.

This is the attention economy – hold their attention and rest will come.

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