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Brand Activation: 13 Examples That Stand Out From the Crowd

February 10, 2023

Brand Activation Examples

And the "brand of the year" award goes to...

Brands and customers share a close-knitted connection. Whenever the consumer needs something, they first knock on the brand's website.

Nowadays, you might be used to receiving vanilla order confirmations and delivery people who are sweeter than the dessert you ordered. You might think of brand activation as an off-the-hook marketing activity, but it's much more. It is a way for a brand to identify who its real people are.

Brand activation is a closed loop of moment marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, and demand generation. It is the rising influence of a brand in the target market.

Brand activation isn't a flick of a switch. You need to gather proper content, mentorship, and evident success stories through customer advocacy software. Once you have deliverables, craft a promotional strategy while encircling the informational value of your brand. 

Making your brand known isn't as breezy as it sounds. There are a lot of market contenders that will sweep your brand under the rug. But if you are firm with your yield and willing to make a change, you can touch new heights.

Why do you need brand activation?

Your brand is your culture. Your entire company shapes the emotional connection you are striving for with customers. Brand activation needs to be something the whole company takes on—not just the marketing department.

In a competitive market, brand activation can offer ways to attract customers that your competitors do not. It's a chance to be unique and create meaningful interaction. The more you connect with customers, the more likely they will become loyal. Brand loyalty speaks volumes about your value proposition and consumer experience strategy. 

There are many ways to build brand awareness, but brand activation generates an emotional attachment. Being aware of your brand won't drive action to become a customer. They must relate to your brand, core message, and solutions to trust you. Only consistent bouts of trust and good outcomes can help you survive the wrath of a competitive sales battleground. 

Importance of brand activation

So you're building a product for concertgoers to help them listen to music peacefully without ear bleeds. Where do you think your target audience would be? Out jumping aloof in concerts? No. Placing a correct demand placeholder is important because you don't want to spill the ink everywhere. This brings us to the importance of brand activation

  • It captures the attention of the audience searching for useful and trustworthy brands and cannot see through.
  • It endears you to your target audience and helps build long-lasting relationships.
  • It gives you the initial bank shot in the market and gets your sales deals rolling.
  • It exposes your brand to a wider target audience that is interested in your product. 
  • It brings something new, inventive, and upbeat to the consumer table, which they would enjoy more heartedly. 
  • It helps you align with your business return on investment (ROI) and allocate your budget wisely.
  • It helps you design creative, trendy marketing outreaches that create a  "stop and pause" moment for consumers.
  • It targets omnichannel communication with your consumers with relevant content, which doesn't let them second guess your value.
Do you know Starbucks manufactures its own Tupperware, has a roastery, and sells carbonated drinks? You might be leaving the train of brand activation, my friend. 

13 inspiring brand activation examples

Brand activation can take the form of anything, like guerrilla marketing or immersive experiences. Still, there is a common thread throughout these brand activation examples: thinking outside the box. Use the following examples to encourage new advertising techniques at your business, whether your focus is B2C, D2C, or B2B marketing. 

Bala Bangles

Bala bangles made its US shark tank debut in 2021. Two enthusiastic entrepreneurs, Natalie Holloway, and Max Kislevitz, aimed to cut through the noise of the activewear market with smart, wearable bands that keep you in charge of your workout.

These Bala Bangles were advertised using sporty cheerleaders, who wore them each in one hand and lightened the Shark Tank stage. Its use cases are predefined, flexible, and just for the activewear market. 

Bala Bangles knocked it out of the park as it received an "all-shark deal".  They finally went with Kevin O'Leary, who offered them a loan of $400,000 dollars at an interest of 7.5% with an exchange of 5% equity. In under six months after the show was aired, Bala Bangles tripled their revenue to 20 million dollars!

Starbucks

Starbucks has a branch in Canada that sells flavored water, carbonated drinks, ice teas, and cool beverages to the consumer's preference. The lush green surroundings add to the fizziness of the drinks and relax the mind. 

The brand ran an activation campaign on rising influencers. The influencers were encouraged to try the products for free and spread the word on social media. As more and more people came to know about it, this pop-up store became huge and successful. Their offline brand activation also boosted their online sales as customers began to search for convenient options. 

Bumble Hive

The Bumble caravan returned to the streets of New York with another "Bumble Hive" brand activation campaign. During New York Fashion Week (NYFW), it hosted a hive in "Artists and Fleas SoHo Space" for a full week. Laidback patios, welcoming lounges, and comfy chairs attracted a lot of regular event attendees. The Hive ultimately drove a spree of downloads of the Bumble app. 

This brand activation campaign wasn't a lot like anyone would have seen. It targeted the fashion show attendees directly and gave them an "out of element" experience. Who would have imagined getting dolled up for a fashion show and eating Bumble-branded heart cookies?

Bumble pulled this campaign during Valentine's week, which made the experience even more beautiful and romantic. 

Nike

Nike has been in the talks for having one of the most successful brand activation ventures for the Nike Run Club. This application is built on gamification principles, which makes it user-friendly and a workout go-to. Nike encourages you to work out alone, even if you don't have companions, with this application. The application acts as your digital companion, which prioritizes your needs.  

The Nike Run Club tracks your cardio activity, suggests resistance workouts, and features several "health-conscious" products and articles. It also gives you an open collaboration medium where you can show off your running sprints on social media. What more can a friend do than this?

Well, Nike stands by its tagline, "Just Do It." Nike Run Club earns an estimated profit of $5.15 million in a year. 

Google Assistant Ride

Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world's largest consumer technology show, is a rather crowded field with almost 200,000 attendees. Standing out is essential – even for one of the most well-known companies in the world: Google.

Google debuted the Google Assistant Ride at the 2019 CES. They built a roller coaster ride at the event, but it wasn't your typical ride. Riders experienced a day in the life of a fictional character and their Google Assistant, Google’s AI-powered voice recognition software.


The ride featured all the ways the character’s new assistant helped them get through the day. It was designed using animatronics, making the experience more authentic. The journey, complete with beautiful visuals (and a photo opp), was captivating. It was an imaginative way to convey the Google ecosystem to the individual user.

Bloomingdales and the Broadway Musical

Retailers, not just in fashion, are looking to amp up their marketing growth with Broadway Musical. Casting members enact a brand screenplay and convey the message. Their dialogue delivery exemplifies the brand value to a whole new audience. The e-commerce commercials within a broadway musical play reach beyond 600-1500 people!

Broadway's partnership with US department store Bloomingdales has gone viral on social media. The main aim of this partnership was to spread mental health awareness and brand awareness.

The Broadway green room was transformed into a private lounge for cast and backstage visitors at the musical Dear Evan Hansen. The room had cowhide ottomans, a chaise lounge, and a Twitter space.

Most beloved musicals came in, relaxed, and took the entire event to tweet with the hashtag #DearEvanHansen. The Twitter space spiked the follower count for Bloomingdales, making it a win.

Spotify Wrapped

Spotify marked a gala end to 2022 by launching the Spotify Wrapped list. It featured the "most heard, loved, clicked, and replayed songs of the year" for the listeners. The wrapped lists were also shared on social media, leading to the hashtag #SpotifyWrapped. 

Influencers and big shots shared the list of their favorite songs with the audience, increasing listens and likes for those songs. Known music personalities started advertising their upcoming singles via Spotify to the ones who heard their songs the most.

This two-way connection of experiential marketing swooped millions of dollars in profit. This venture has been ongoing since December 2016 and is still strong. Aside from the love-hate relationship with Spotify ads, everyone loves sharing their music choices with friends. 

Vans: House of Vans

House of Vans has locations in Brooklyn, Chicago, and London, but it also can pop up in any community. These event spaces are for skateboarders, allowing them to get together and share their passion.

On International Women's Day, Vans used the House of Vans to promote women in skateboarding. They hosted skate lessons, documentary screenings, and live music. It was a win for women and the brand.

Ikea Bath Boats Drive

Shopping at Ikea is already an experience, so Ikea’s brand activations are always creative. They recently opened a new sustainable store in Greenwich. To announce the opening, Ikea sent two boats that looked like their Smarkryp bath toy model into the River Thames. These boats collected plastic and rubbish from the waters.

With all the plastic, the brand created a sculpture in the new store – a true upcycle. This event signified Ikea's passion for being kind to the environment. The Bath Boats Drive certainly inspired eco-friendly consumers. 

Desperados: Epic Parties

Who doesn't love an Epic Party? Lovers of Desperados beer have been captivated by the brand's Epic Parties Imagined by You. One event, in particular, had the brand claiming to have launched the largest-ever video light show. 

Attendees handed over their smartphones for a beer. Then, the phones were linked up and played synchronized animations. This experience for fans was enlightening and made attendees feel present rather than focused on their phones (as many of us often are). Desperados showed their attendees that experiences could be even better without your phone.

Adidas and Bluewater

Adidas introduced "Boost technology" in collaboration with Bluewater. Adidas claimed to change the shoe buying scenario in the world. Their invention of "shoe tech" was quite unique and new to the shoe market. The energy exuded by the midsole helps you reach the topmost shelf of the Adidas showroom and grab a shoe on your own without a ladder.

This incredible experience educated the consumer a little more about shoe design. Making a shoe isn't just about slapping leather or mesh together. It is about making a perfect sole, decreasing foot strain, and increasing athletic ability.

People loved the brand activation campaign and stormed inside the Boost showroom.

Zappos and Google

Google worked on another brand activation campaign with Zappos, the online e-commerce brand. It was a layered campaign, where first, Google encouraged people to "pay with a photo" and get a cupcake.

Zappos elevated the experience further and offered free goodies to people who paid with a cupcake. People handed the cupcakes they received from Google to Zappos professionals and bought shoes, shirts, and other items.

The surprising crossover of Zappos and Google received worldwide appreciation. Both brands created a recall in the customer's mind through emotional content. Cupcakes and photos make up for memorable experiences. And these brands stepped in to prove that they are no different than an experience to their customers. 

Red Bull

Red Bull made this list, but not because it gives you wings. For years, Red Bull has driven a monopoly in the energy drink industry. From event sponsorships to music concerts to polo matches, Red Bull painted the market red (literally).

Their core brand activation concept revolved around only one thing: creating content and experiences people admire, even though they might have never sipped an energy drink. In 2019, Red Bull sales soared to a record 7.5 billion cans worldwide.

Types of brand activation

We spoke a lot about how brands have shaped consumer experiences. But do they run on their own? Brand activation involves the hustle of marketing, design, product, and sales teams. The teams sit at a round table to decide which type of brand activation fits in with their product use cases and will be a grossing hit. 

1. Experiential marketing: Experiential marketing connects the dots between the heart of the consumer and the core brand principle. It puts your brand out front and portrays its "sensitive" aspect. People can immerse themselves in brand experience, interact with owners, talk about it, and share their views openly. 

2. Digital marketing: A huge chunk of brand traffic comes from online marketplaces and websites. People prefer to stay indoors and get everything they want at the tap of a screen. The digital components of a business are bought to life with digital marketing. Brands position themselves online, collect consumer data, and customize communication to engage with prospects. 

3. Guerrilla marketing: Guerrilla marketing uses unconventional strategies that take you by surprise. Remember Ronaldo's aversion to Coca-Cola? Many companies leveraged that viral incident to market their own products. They replaced "Coca-Cola" with a competitor and water with their own brand. This daring technique lures customers to check out your brand first.

4. Word of mouth: Word of mouth has been the most significant contributor to a brand's success. It comprises two or more people talking about your brand, and its positive impact encourages others to invest their money in your products. As the circle increases, the world becomes your consumer.

Become the brand messiah 

No matter what type of brand you are or who you serve, there are many opportunities to create brand activation campaigns. Think about how you want your audience to feel and what's important to them. Then, tie that back to what your product or service does. This information will provide you with a foundation to create lasting experiences.

Brand building is a work of patience. Learn how to remain consistent with your brand and facilitate speedy growth.


This article was originally published in 2019. The content has been updated with new information.

customer advocacy software
On a mission to customer satisfaction.

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customer advocacy software
On a mission to customer satisfaction.

Uncover actionable insights on consumer behavior and build long-lasting relationships with customer advocacy software.

Brand Activation: 13 Examples That Stand Out From the Crowd Brand activation brings customers and leads closer to your brand. Learn how brands are using brand activation to make themselves feel heard in the market. https://sell.g2.com/hubfs/brand-activation-examples.jpg
Michael Brenner Michael Brenner is author of 3 books including Mean People Suck, The Content Formula, and Digital Marketing Growth Hacks. He is a Forbes top CMO influencer, was named a Top Business Keynote Speaker by the Huffington Post, and a Top Motivational Speaker by Entrepreneur Magazine. He is CEO of Marketing Insider group, where he works with Fortune 500 brands and startups to build effective marketing programs. https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/michael%20brenner.png

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