March 21, 2012

Breathing life into our brands

One of the hot topics in the media industry at the moment is brand activation. In fact, it’s been a hot topic for quite a while, but it seems as though more and more agencies are realizing its potential. And interesting enough, new agencies are being birthed based on brand activation alone. But what exactly is it, and are we, as PR agencies in Germany, exploring this medium enough?

The reason I’m asking the question of Germany specifically, is because I think the market might be slightly more conservative in Germany than in other countries. And there might be many reasons for this. But take South Africa, for example. It’s still very much in a developmental phase, and perhaps, as a result, in a position to take more risks? What is also fascinating (and often very frustrating too) about working in the media industry in South Africa, is that we hardly ever have big budgets to play with. On the one hand, this can be incredibly limiting. But on the other hand, I’ve found that it also forces one to be insanely creative, and to think outside the box at all times. In my opinion, this is the main reason why brand activation has taken flight to such an extent in South Africa. It’s an incredibly creative activity that one can often pull-off without spending a fortune.

As you may know, the main goal of brand activation is to bring the brand to life in the world of the consumer. And for that to happen, the brand needs to become more than a brand, it needs to become an experience. In other words, we need to think of ways for the consumer to interact with the brand. And this might mean thinking in a completely different way than we’ve been thinking for some time. Instead of creating campaigns, events and articles that take the consumer to the brand, we need to think of ways of taking the brand to the consumer. Not only creating a world around the brand that the consumer aspires to, but taking the brand and infiltrating the world of the consumer. There are so many examples of ways this can be done, and there are so many tools that can be used today to make it a reality.

Like social media, for instance. It’s a massive platform of consumers that can be utilized at the click of a button. Take the McDonalds, Create your own burger campaign, for example. Consumers have the opportunity to create their own burgers. And the winner’s burger goes into production. How cool is that? And as with many brand activation campaigns, the biggest part of the campaign was run online. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, the campaign tends to take on a life of its own. But the magic is that you don’t have to be such a well-known brand to make use of brand activation or to create similar campaigns. In fact, it’s also been really successful for new-comer brands, or brands that are looking to enter new playing fields in terms of sector or target group.

So my challenge to you is the following (if you’re not doing so already), revisit all your brands, and think of ways that you could perhaps make them even more relevant to the consumer through the use of brand activation. If your clients are too conservative, or if you are mainly working with b to b customers, you might find this more challenging. But never the less, it might be worth a try. Even if just to get your own creative juices flowing. You might even stumble upon a fantastic yet completely different idea in the process. For some fresh brand activation inspiration, click on this link and see what the rest of the world is doing: www.brandactivation.nl/en

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