Brand Activation - A Breakthrough

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 4021 , Published on 26 July 2012

Success stories are built on the premises of exploiting one’s strengths to the maximum. Businesses always find themselves in the midst of cut-throat competition, and the ability to rise above all requires craftsmanship and an understanding of the most important stakeholder – the customer. But, being a customer is also a difficult job these days.

With a myriad of choices around us, it’s hard to put money on one brand and stay convinced that the right decision has been made.  So, a brand that strikes a chord with the customer’s hearts and engages them at all levels in their marketing process gains an upper hand and that goes a long way in the promotion of the brand. In the marketing parlance, this is known as brand activation, and it is the buzzword that’s doing the rounds. To call it a theory would be wrong; it is a natural step in the evolution of brands.

Changing times

In this new age of promotion, winds of change have been relentlessly sweeping across the landscape and creating new frontiers. The interest and loyalty of customers are being stirred by the companies through innovative means and seamless integration of all means of communication. Gone are the days when advertisements on the idiot-box used to be the biggest medium of communication for the companies. The heavyweights at the helm of the marketing departments of companies wanted to intrude more into people’s lives. Thus, they wanted intrusive branding, they wanted activation.

An active brand offers products and services that deliver on the brand position. A personal dialogue with the target customers is an important element of promoting through activation. The customer feels emotionally connected with the brand, and that increases the recall rate of the same – thereby shutting the doors on the competitors. When a brand turns insight into action, its reason to believe becomes more acceptable and understanding, and the opportunity to purchase becomes more promising.

Brand activation and the advent of social media

Brand activation falls under the category of below-the-line (BTL) promotions.  BTL techniques target a limited and specific group through less conventional methods; aim at highlighting the features of a brand and promote them with an aim of increasing the brand recall. The companies have to identify competitive communication strategies to effectively spread the message. This is where the social media – touted as the “new” media - plays a huge part. A variety of channels is available in the social media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc.

Size matters, it just does. Having a huge number of “fans” or “followers” represents a highly valuable distribution channel. For instance, Starbucks has a staggering number of followers on its Facebook page – more than 300 million! What this means is, the company has more than 300 million people to whom they can deliver customer service, notify about new offers and engage with on a recurring basis. Calling this an advantage would be an understatement.

Brand reinforcement and active brands

Brands such as Coca-Cola, Time Magazine, Mercedes Benz, etc are timeless in nature, and have maintained their domination despite strong competition from emerging brands. The chief reason is their ability to constantly revaluate research and reinforce their brand equity. The power of a brand can be further strengthened by keeping the customers abreast of the essence of the brand - its representation, relevance, benefits and superiority.

A cursory glance at the financial reports of companies is enough to know the huge amounts being put in for interactive marketing purposes. The trend is fast catching up with all the players. In 2008, Dabur unleashed a marketing blitz across India in the form of a reality show targeting the rural and the semi-urban market. It was titled Banke Dikhao Rani and consisted of beauty pageants, singing contests and model hunts. Sundarta, Susheelta and Yogyatathe traits all the modern women crave for – became the buzzwords. The idea was to promote Dabur Amla Hair Oil as the oil that promotes beauty. Thousands of women were a part of the campaign and it was a huge success. The idea was to promote Dabur Amla hair oil as a youthful and contemporary brand, and Dabur managed to stamp its authority in a grand style.

Cadbury is known for promoting its chocolate brand Diary Milk through numerous innovative campaigns. The recent ones include Mirchi Freshers College ka Shubh Aarambh and Meethi Family Contest which were launched through the social marketing site - Facebook. No wonder the brand Cadbury has become synonymous with chocolates.

Another example of a company actively involved in promotion is Nestle. Its brand Maggi has always connected emotionally with its customers. The me & meri Maggi campaign was a runaway success with people experiences pouring in from all quarters – as shown in their various advertisements. The latest Guess the Taste campaign for its new flavour has kept the customers engaged from the beginning.

Activate the brand, measure the success

To just term the brand activation measures as a means to communicate the brand value would be a gross misunderstanding. There are mathematical formulae to measure its success rate. It explains that the product trial is a result of number of exposures or contacts created by different means multiplying it by the percentage of acceptance level of exposed population. What this means is that the companies can exactly gauge their level of success and that would determine their future course of action.

In a nutshell

Brands are under constant stress to deliver relevance and value to the customers – who are literally spoilt for choices. This would be possible if their entire gamut of marketing activities revolve around the fulcrum - of which the customers are a part of. Failure of any sort might lead the brand into a state of oblivion. So, they need to create an environment wherein customers can experience the feeling, the brand. With so much on offer, the customer would always be craving for more meetha moments in the future.

This article has been authored by Rajagoplan S from IIFT Kolkata.

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