Brand Activation for Customer Engagement

“Brand activation is about bringing a brand’s core features or values to life through creating experiences. Don’t try to communicate every detail of your brand; the purpose is to build better brand connection, not increase sales.” – PACE

As a term and strategy, brand activation is a relatively new one. As per the quote above, brand activation is about growing a brand by creating positive customer experiences. Brand activation for customer engagement is about ensuring that the products and services offered by the brand become visible to the target audience, and create a lasting impact on them. It is about building an emotional connection with the audience through and for the brand. Given that there is a plethora of brands in the market today, it is becoming increasingly hard for companies to make their brand known and display its core identity. Without being able to make their brand stand out – attracting and engaging customers would be impossible. Brand activation is about letting customers know that they would be able to gain benefits and satisfy their emotional needs by staying connected with and using the brand.

Brand activation for customer engagement aims at creating new and innovative ideas that would keep the interest of customers in mind. Repetitive and rote ideas could lead customers away from a brand. Companies are looking at multichannel communication to encourage engagement and emotional bonds, such that the customers remained interested, leading to more buys. Personalization and unconventional approaches now seem to be getting more attention than traditional promotional campaigns that were restricted to a single channel and fixed approach. The silo approach has given way to digital, social, and experiential brand activation for customer engagement.

Brand activation for customer engagement is essential to building positive feelings and warm emotions towards a brand. Companies engage in activities such as experiential events, in-store marketing, sampling of their products, sponsoring events, and programs, and other such activities to make their brand presence felt. Doing so ensures that people learn about the brand, understand the core features, and assess the long-term benefits they can gain by being associated with the brand. Such brand positioning is what distinguishes it from others in an otherwise crowded and noisy marketplace. Brand activation when done right, can shift and change the perceptions of a potential customer base, and move it towards a brand. The more positive feelings a brand can create for itself, the better poised it would be to gain loyal customers, who would repeatedly buy the products and encourage others to buy as well.

Does your company use brand activation for customer engagement? If so, what guidelines or principles does it use to get the brand’s essence across to a large section of people? The foremost step would be to understand deeply and thoroughly the expectations and needs of the target customer base. It is only through such understanding that a company can formulate innovative strategies and ideas that would appeal to the emotions and needs of the prospects. Understanding customers would enable a company to ensure that they get the timing right with respect to brand activation – the right time and situation are crucial to striking the right chord that would turn prospects to motivated fans and regular users of the brand.

It is also necessary for a company to implement activities such as experiential events. Close, personal, and face-to-face interactions enable prospective customers to see the humane and empathetic side of a company, which proves to be a crucial motivating factor for buying and staying with a company. The more customers can interact and ‘feel’ a brand, the more likely would be their affinity and appreciation for the brand. Experiential events allow companies and prospective customers to engage in close personal experiences – prospects have the opportunity to touch and feel the products, try them out, ask questions about them, and maybe even participate in activities that allow them to feel one with the brand. When companies organize such events, it would be a good idea to blend seamlessly the physical and digital experiences, adding more depth to the experiences people have with the brand. The idea is to appeal to the emotional and rational senses of people, such that the brand ‘remains’ with them long after leaving the event / interaction. Recall and lasting memories of a brand are more likely to result in purchases and people becoming long-term customers.

Another way to use brand activation for customer engagement is through promotional activities and marketing. These activities are aimed at building awareness about the brand and products. Companies use freebies, loyalty programs, product sampling, special limited period offers, and in-store brand displays. The idea is to be ‘everywhere’ the customer is, and ensure that the brand becomes part of their daily experiences, albeit in an exciting and engaging way. In-store marketing is a part of such promotional activities – it focuses on enhancing the image and identity of the brand, by highlighting the features and benefits of the brand. Such marketing includes eye-catching pictures and designs, and allows customers to ‘try out’ the products of the brand. Some companies engage customers by enabling customers to click their own pictures using the products, which increases the affinity of customers towards the brand.

The underlying premise of brand activation for customer engagement is to develop a personal connection and encourage a face-to-face interactive conversation with all kinds of customers. This makes the brand seem real – infuses life into the brand, making it seem like an inextricable part of the customer’s life. Doing this consistently and efficiently will ensure that the experiences become more memorable, and would engage customers at an emotional level. Appealing to the emotional side of customers has a longer lasting effect as opposed to the rational side of people – it is known that most buyers make purchases for emotional reasons, and companies that are able to tap into and satisfy those emotions, would have a better chance of success.

One of the top rules of management is that everything that a company does must be monitored and measured. The same applies to brand activation for customer engagement – it is important for a company to know how many prospective customers it hopes to reach, what kind of message would it like to convey about the brand, and at what scale should the branding campaign run. In addition, a company must be able to assess the kind of return on investment it would get through the campaign, and what kind of long-term and substantial gains the company can get through the brand activation exercise. For the exercise to be successful, a company must also know whether it would complement its other endeavours, and be sustainable on all channels of communication. To ensure that your brand activation exercise will engage customers, it must be unique and differentiated – it must have a USP, meaning that no else should offer what your brand could.

Brand activation for customer engagement though new must not be underestimated – it has the ability, when managed well, to shape the future of a company, and keep the brand relevant and favoured for the long-term. As mentioned, brand activation for customer engagement, must not be about making a sale. Instead, it must focus on generating awareness and consciousness of the brand by displaying the benefits and advantages for customers. It should be about creating memorable experiences that would draw customers in and ensure that they repeatedly return to the brand.

 

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