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Event marketing | 17 August 2022

19 Brand Activation Ideas To Connect With Your Target Audience

Bizzabo Blog Staff

Want to grow awareness for your company and reach more of the consumers who matter? These brand activation ideas will help you connect with your target audience in authentic ways that move the needle for your organization.

As a business owner or marketing professional, you always want to reach more people with your brand’s message, products, and services. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy thing to do. With so much noise on the internet, a flood of webinars, and competitors fighting for market share, how can your company ever break through? It sounds like you need to invest in a brand activation strategy.

What is brand activation?

Brand activation is a relatively new term in the marketing world, becoming popular within the last few years. It plays a crucial role in any multi-touch event marketing plan. Brand activation is building awareness for a company by engaging directly with target audiences. This can be done through different event types, formats, or marketing campaigns, as long as the effort results in a specific consumer experience that builds a company’s notoriety.

If this definition seems broad to you, that’s because brand activation can be initiated in so many different ways. The rest of this blog article will explore ideas and examples you can use and learn from to grow awareness for your company.

1. Promote 360° Customer Experiences: Slack

slack HQ

Source: SXSW

At the intersection of work and play is Slack, everyone’s favorite collaborative workspace and communications platform. With endless GIFs, emojis for every reaction, and more, Slack is known for creating a workspace everyone wants to be a part of and engage with. It’s not surprising then that Slack is bringing the work-meets-fun vibe to SXSW 2022.

SXSW is known for its next-level brand activations, but we’re beyond excited about what Slack delivered in its interactive pop-up experience. With immersive 3D selfie scenes, a “Work from Anywhere” lounge with high-power WiFi, tantalizing sweet treats, Slack swag, and more, this brand activation screams Slack. No doubt it’ll leave those of us who couldn’t attend SXSW feeling major FOMO.

2. Encourage Customer Promotion: Sonic

Sonic - Brand Activation

Source: Foodiggity

We live in a social media-driven world. If your audience isn’t talking about your company on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you aren’t connecting with them as well as you could be. Sometimes the best way to generate social buzz is to encourage your audience to post about your brand. That’s what Sonic did for an experiential marketing campaign at the Coachella music festival. The fast-food chain sold square-shaped shakes to concertgoers, perfectly sized for Instagram posts and only available for purchase through the picture-sharing platform.

3. Solve Customer Problems: Vitaminwater

 Vitaminwater - Brand Activation

Source: Intellitix

When you get down to it, why does anybody buy anything? Because it solves a problem. To raise awareness for your company, provide your audience with solutions to their challenges. Vitaminwater expertly incorporated this tactic into their WayHome Music Festival event strategy by building a human car wash. What problem does every summer festival attendee deal with? The heat. By creating a fun misting station, Vitaminwater solved this issue while promoting its brand.


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4. Give Your Audience What They Want: Durango Boots

 Durgano Boots - Brand Activation

Source: Boots and Hearts

Durango Boots knows precisely who their products are for: proud cowboys and cowgirls. They also understand that a ride on El Diablo the mechanical bull would be a fun experience for most of their target demographic. So they set up the bull and let event attendees ride to their heart’s content. Brand activation doesn’t need to be complex. You need to know your audience and give them what they want.

5. Capitalize on Binge-worthy TV: Apple TV+



Comic-con 2022 was brimming with brand activations, but the one that struck us was the Apple TV+’s Severance feature. The popular TV show recruited San Diego Comic-Con attendees for the fully immersive experience, from the boardroom where people met their “innie” to the severed floor where they interacted with other Lumon employees. Apple TV+ also branded an entire building in San Diego to attract attention and pull attendees into its severed experience.

6. Make Learning Brand History Fun: Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdales - Brand Activation

Source: Museum Hack

The history of your company — where, why, and how your brand got started —is important. It can help consumers better connect with your organizational values and build trust with them. But rather than simply telling their audience their story, Bloomingdale’s created an interactive scavenger hunt. Attendees learned about the unique history of the store while completing fun tasks. As a bonus, many photos taken during the event were posted to social media, giving extra press to Bloomingdale’s.

7. Make Your Event Exclusive: Radius

 Radius - Brand Activation

Source: Radius

Radius knows a thing or two about B2B event marketing. They periodically host an invite-only executive dinner in New York City to educate attendees on B2B revenue growth, networking, and the buyer’s journey. While hosting an exclusive event or experience means excluding a portion of your audience, your company will develop a strong bond with those invited, and they’ll be much more likely to spread the word about your brand.

8. Make Use of Technology: Ready Player One

 Ready Player One - Brand Activation

Source: VR Focus

Technology opens up so many doors for marketing activation. The marketing team behind Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie, Ready Player One, expertly used virtual reality to engage moviegoers through a virtual treasure hunt game. How can your company use technology to connect with consumers? Just using tools like event software can significantly assist your brand activation efforts.

9. Include Your Team: Warby Parker

 Warby Parker - Brand Activation

Source: Warby Parker

Want to grow awareness for your brand? Get your team involved, and they’ll be your greatest promotional assets. Warby Parker, the online glasses maker, gets this. During the pool party they hosted at the Standard Hotel in Los Angeles, Warby staff members walked around with mirrors and carts of glasses for guests to try on and purchase.

10. Tap Into Customer Aspirations: Guinness

 guiness-brand-activation-ideas

Source: TRO

Aspirational marketing is often reserved for luxury brands, but it may benefit your brand activation and event marketing strategies, too, regardless of what you sell. What is it? It’s simply associating a company with something its target audience aspires to. Guinness hit the nail on the head with their Guinness Class campaign. Those who bought one of their beers while the promotion lasted were entered into the running for a grand prize: a free trip to Dublin, on a private jet, for themselves and four friends. Who doesn’t aspire to own a private jet?


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11. Partner with Influencers: Starbucks

 Starbucks - Brand Activation

Source: Marketing Mag

To promote their new line of Teavana teas, Starbucks opened a pop-up “Sparkle Shop” in Toronto and partnered with glitter-crazed YouTuber, LaurDIY, to promote it. Influencer marketing has grown in popularity over the last few years and can increase event ROI when appropriately done. Look for an influencer with a complementary audience to yours. Then strike up a mutually beneficial arrangement.

12. Shock Your Audience: Lipton Iced Tea

Want to raise awareness for your brand and be remembered? Do something nobody expects, like erect an enormous, bright yellow water slide, in the middle of London, in full view of morning commuters. That’s what Lipton Iced Tea did. When curious onlookers gathered to see what the commotion was all about, Lipton handed out free samples of their products and encouragements to #BeADaybreaker. Pretty brilliant, right?

13. Make Your Event Interactive: IKEA

IKEA - Brand Activation

Source: Crummbs

Here’s an event activation idea: get your attendees involved and make your gathering interactive. IKEA is known for inexpensive furniture for DIYers and to-die-for Swedish meatballs. That’s why the Dining Club pop-up restaurant worked so well. Diners prepared their meals under the supervision of professional chefs to serve their family and friends. What can you do to involve your clients and customers at your next pop-up or account-based marketing event?

14. Leverage What Your Customers Love: DIRECTV

 DirecTV - Brand Activation

Source: Alt Terrain

One of the easiest ways to increase company awareness is to connect your brand to something your audience already loves. What do many DirecTV customers love? Sunday NFL Football. To capitalize on this, DIRECTV hosted a Boston area tailgating experience. Attendees watched football games on giant TVs, played fun games, ate food, and took photos with branded props. This event was successful because it was fun, different, and showed consumers tangible benefits of having the DirecTV service.

15. Give Them Something To Anticipate: Refinery29

 29Rooms - Brand Activation

Source: 29Rooms

Promoted as “an incredible playground for adults,” 29Rooms is now an annual event hosted by lifestyle brand, Refinery29. The 29 different rooms, created in conjunction with various musicians and companies, are designed and curated to produce a different experience relating to a specific theme. Not only is this annual event extraordinarily creative and fun, but it also gives attendees something to look forward to, which keeps Refinery29 at the forefront of their audience’s minds.

16. Help Your Customers Do Good: Misereor

 Misereor - Brand Activation

Source: Kolle Rebbe

We all want to (hopefully!) do good in the world and help people. Sometimes it’s just hard to know where to start. Maybe your company can bring light to specific issues and promote your brand simultaneously. That’s what Misereor did with their SocialSwipe campaign by setting up digital posters inside airports. The posters would display world problems and donate money to specific causes. Each donor then receives a thank you message on their bank statement. How cool is that?

17. Promote Brand Values: Ben & Jerry’s

Ben and Jerry's - Brand Activation

Source: The Drum

A successful brand activation event will promote a company’s values. Values are what turn casual customers into raving fans of a business. Ben & Jerry’s gets it. They’re one of the most values-driven brands out there and regularly promote environmental causes. These values led to the Big Ice Screening Film Festival, where eight movies were screened over three days and made possible by green technology. What does your brand stand for? Now create an event that supports those things.

18. Address Customer Objections: Lucozade Sport

What keeps consumers from using your company’s products or services? Maybe it’s time to address it head-on as Lucozade Sport did with their “Wait Training” brand activation campaign. Many adults complain that they don’t have time to work out. Lucozade removed excuses by streaming live fitness instructors on bus stop TV screens and encouraging people to exercise while waiting. Bottles of Lucozade sports drink were then given after the workout.

19. Partner With Other Brands: Grillo’s Pickles


Earlier, we discussed partnering with influencers, but what about a partnership with another company? Find a non-competing brand with a similar audience to yours. Then tap into their audience like Grillo’s Pickles did when they partnered with a local brewery to craft a pickle-flavored beer for the Boston Pickle Fair. Collaborations like these can be pretty lucrative. Grillo’s beer was so popular it sold out at the event, and there’s talk of bringing it back sometime in the future.

Key Takeaways: How To Activate Your Brand

From brand activation examples to corporate event ideas, the 19 tactics in this blog article will help you better connect with consumers and grow brand awareness. Here are a few main takeaways:

  • Focus on your audience. How can you benefit your audience with your events? Will you solve their problems, surprise them, or make their aspirations come true? Having this kind of mindset will naturally translate into more customers and sales.
  • Make your experiences shareable. The easier it is for consumers to share their experiences with your company on social media, they will often. How can you make sharing rewarding or straightforward? Answer this, and your brand’s following will shower you with free promotion.
  • Strive for excellence by differentiation. No event is perfect. Not everything will go exactly according to plan. But all great events strive to exceed expectations and provide unique experiences. How can your company get creative and make your next event unforgettable?

Having the right event software features in your toolkit can help you focus less on managing the manual logistics of your next event and more on making it a success.


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