Do Brand Activations Really Work?

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A key question facing any brand activation company is: How effective is what we are doing? Sure brand activations are immersive, memorable and interesting but what does that mean when ultimately measuring success. Well, just as we like to tailor our different activations here at Jawbone, we believe that measures of success should also be personal and reflective of the brand’s ultimate goals. So where do we start? We need to define what “work” means in every context.


Every brand has a goal, and that goal will be informed by a strategy. Maybe you want to launch a new product, change a perception, give people a chance to experience what it’s like to use your products, gain awareness, get exposure. The opportunities abound! It all starts with outlining and defining your objectives. That means you can start planning for a brand activation with a clear “vision” in mind.


What’s powerful about brand activations is that there’s often a lot that can be measured. In this blog post about measuring experiential marketing ROI in 2019, we unpack the practicalities around using stats, data and tech to measure ROI that translates to business results. Digital newsletters, RFID tags, use of hashtags before and after the event are all small ways that you can monitor who, where and what was working along the way. So when you need to justify brand activation efficacy, you can have hard, cold figures on your side.


The strategy remains the same as any other traditional marketing channel; every brand wants to attract new customers, retain existing ones, engage them in their brand’s world and then continue to convert as many of them as possible. The event activations space is very versatile when it comes to driving awareness for brands. Whether it’s a business conference, a mall set up or even a fully immersive experience, when you involved people you have an opportunity to bring them closer to your brand and understand what you’ve got to offer that sets you apart from competitors.

We see this being effective in the way that people often snap pics on their phones and share them to their own personal networks during events. It’s why the best event activations generally have a seriously cool set up to set them apart – they’re well planned, they’re located in an interesting place, they look or sound amazing, or they even feature a celeb or famous person who can also bolster the reach.


At our core, we are emotional beings, which is why one often sees the best brand activations bring those that spark some kind of emotional response. The best brand activations also don’t get too pushy or too in your face, they provide a space where people can just be themselves, mingle, relax, chat and even meet new people with similar interests. On the upside, an experience like this can create excellent brand recall which often means that people love what they experienced so much that they want to go and share it with the world. And when we were looking at examples of experiential marketing that worked, we found a compelling stat to back this up: “Research conducted by McKinsey shows that word-of-mouth recommendations drive 20% to 50% of all purchase decisions, and experiential word-of-mouth recommendations account for 50% to 80% of all those recommendations.”


Sensory and tactile are two words that can really play a big role. And it’s especially the case if your goal is to introduce a new product – whether it’s furniture, food or cell phones. Instead of reading about the key features of a phone or the benefits of dog food, a brand activation could let you try that phone out yourself or see your doggie enjoying that delicious lunch! Historically, some of the coolest brand activations have been part and parcel of some of the most famous advertising campaigns tied back to popular culture. We wrote about some of the ones that we loved in this wrap up of 2019’s top experiential campaigns. That’s not to say that brand activations have to cost an arm and a leg or be so huge that the world gets talking. Smaller-scale brand events and activations can be just as cool. It comes down to your target market, your objectives and your setting.


Another positive justification for brand activations is that they’re not a static medium. They’re malleable, they can adapt, they can show up in different places. They can also innovate as the world does, utilising VR, AR and everything they offer. In terms of staying on top of tech trends, we suggested that these are 3 key questions to ask when it comes to event planning and brand activations:
• Is it (tech) smart?
• Is it immersive?
• It is conscious?


So do brand activations work? And is it wise to work with a brand activations company? That’s a hard YES from us. And not just because we love what we do (and we do it really well) but because we believe that the benefits, positive effects and business results they can attain are worth a company’s investment. The key is to know and understand the benefits that activations can have and align them with business objectives to really use them to a brand’s advantage.