Brand Activation Strategy: 5 Questions To Help You Craft A Winning Strategy

Are you in search for a guide to develop a brand activation strategy that can give you a roadmap to plan your promotional marketing activations? You are at the right place. Read on to understand what constitutes strategy and how to craft one for your brand!

In our recent post, we talked about planning a brand activation campaign. However, before planning, there needs to be an effective brand activation strategy in place.

Yes, even though you may have used these terms interchangeably, a strategy and a plan are not the same things. The strategy is your foundation on which you build your brand, plan, and execute different promotional marketing activities. The plan is a roadmap of the concrete promotional activities that help you implement and manage the brand activation strategy.

When it comes to brand activation, the difference becomes crucial because you need to look at brand activation from a long-term perspective.This is because brand identity is not forged in a single day as a result of one experiential marketing event or promotional activation.

You need to strategize over a long period, with multiple campaigns across different channels to build your brand.

business strategy for brand activation campaignsSource: Adamslawcolorado

Understanding Strategy

Before we get to crafting a brand activation strategy, let's look at what strategy is all about and what makes it different from planning.

Roger Martin in Harvard Business Review, on strategy and planning, defines strategy as:

"set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns."

A strategy is not just a plan on how to achieve a particular set of objectives through a brand activation campaign or an event marketing campaign.

It is a broad framework under which a firm makes choices to position itself in the market and deliver customer value. The strategy is what brings coherence and uniformity across different initiatives undertaken by a firm. 

Also read: How to Plan a Successful Brand Activation Campaign

These integrated set of choices, according to Martin, are based on answers to these questions:

  • What is your winning aspiration;
  • Where will you play;
  • How will you win;
  • What capabilities need to be in place; and
  • What management systems must be instituted?

Let's apply this framework to craft a brand activation strategy:

5 Questions You Must Answer for a winning Brand Activation Strategy

To craft a kickass brand activation strategy, you must ask yourself these five basic questions based on the above understanding of strategy as a collection of choices: 

1. WINNING ASPIRATION: what do we want our brand to be in the long term? 

The first question you must answer before you prepare any strategy is to ask, what does your brand stand for? What do you want your brand to be known for? Branding, they say is not what you say about your brand but what people talk about your brand.

Take for example, Amazon. The brand message of Amazon is crystal clear- to be "Earth's most customer-centric company". All their promotional marketing campaigns, business activities are ultimately geared towards providing the best value to their customers.

Whether it is a new brand you are launching from scratch or renewing an existing product, be clear about what do you want to be known for. It could be anything :

  • Latest technology
  • Path-breaking innovation
  • Obsession with customer service
  • Premium quality

Once you are clear about your winning aspiration, you will start getting better clarity and ideas to craft a suitable brand activation campaign.

Also read: 21 Brand Activation Ideas to Get your Creative Juices Flowing

2. target market: Where will our brand play?  

You cannot make everyone happy. Your brand must identify the target market where it would appeal the most to people. The target market could be based on any number of parameters.

It could be a geographical region, an age bracket, or a particular income segment- the idea is to explore and know the utility of your product well enough to determine who would gain the maximum value from it.

people attending a brand activation marketing event

Source: Knops

This knowledge is crucial to have a better insight into the first question of winning aspiration as well as to think of creative ways to launch an activation campaign that can emotionally appeal and connect with your target audience.

Once you have determined the winning aspiration and target market for your brand, it is time for some self-reflection and access your capabilities as a team.

3. swot analysis: What are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and capabilities as a brand?

Brand activations can vary from highly expensive and resource intensive product launch campaigns to simple, creative booth installations that can go viral.

The type of marketing activation/campaign you choose will depend on your capabilities as a marketing team or organization. Spend some time on a suitable analysis of your present brand image as well as the team.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is my brand already known (if it is a relaunch)?
  • How well are people familiar with the organization?
  • What is the current sentiment, positive or negative, of our name?
  • What are our core strengths as a team and in terms of resources?
  • Do we have access to partners/firms that can aid our in-house team?

Answers to all these questions would help you identify and access your capabilities to achieve your winning aspiration and execute different brand activations.

The biggest advantage of getting clarity on these questions at the planning stage would help you form a coherent, uniform strategy for your upcoming brand activations. 

Also read: Why do you need Brand Activation?

4. Conditions of winning: How will we win? What tactics we can use to achieve our aspiration? 

At this stage of preparing a strategy for brand activation, you just need to explore alternative tactics at your disposal instead of planning how to do it. Figure out the "what" and "why" in this phase and leave the "how" to the planning stage of individual product marketing campaigns.

Think of the different tactics you can use to reach out to your target market and communicate the right message. You can use

  • Product demonstration installations (For e.g. booths or interactive kiosks)
  • Mobile vans to spread your message
  • Mixed Reality / Augmented Reality Brand Activations

brand-activation-strategy-business-planning-Source: Bplans

You might go for different promotional tactics for different product marketing activations depending on :

  • Location
  • Audience
  • Context

Keep in mind to explore why a particular event marketing tactic might be effective for your purpose. This exercise would give you a lot of ideas for brand activations as well in advance.

5. What management systems must be instituted? 

This is the final puzzle while developing your brand activation strategy. Once you have figured out your winning aspiration, target audience, capabilities, and marketing tactics, you need to bring them all together.

It is time when you start forming a system and team in place that can formulate the brand activation strategy and start the planning the whole on-ground event marketing process.

The system could be setting up a general workflow based on mutual consensus and assigning the high-level hierarchy of responsibilities to oversee all the engagement marketing activations. You need not go into the detail at this point and try to include interested people to plan, execute, and manage all the engagement marketing activations.

For example, for different brand activations running over a long period of time, you can set up a planning team, execution team, and management team while shaping the product activation strategy.

Ensure that people in these teams understand and formulate all brand activation plans based on the strategy you have developed for your brand.


A brand activation strategy is much more than just planning how to execute a set of tasks, or preparing a detailed plan of financial resources and a budget. It is a set of collective choices made over a course of time, that forms the basis of all decisions you take to achieve the desired goal.

While you prepare the event marketing strategy, remember that great brand activations encourage meaningful interactions with the brand, and build an emotional connect through consumer-centric activities.

Also read: Engaging Customers using Mixed Reality, with Zee Theatre [Case Study]

By answering to above five questions, you'll be able to formulate a strong, cohesive strategy that would lay the foundation of all your activations and help you build your desired brand identity!

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