Brave Robot product launch with food truck
March 31st, 2024 | 16 min read
  • Activations

From Sketch to Spectacle: Designing Brand Activations

Planning a successful brand activation involves setting clear goals, understanding your audience, and crafting an engaging experience that resonates with them. Here’s a guide to get you started.

Your Brand Identity and Values

You know what your brand is about and where it came from, but have you articulated your brand’s core values and personality? Doing so will help you clarify your objectives both for the activation and your brand’s future.

“Brand values are the beliefs that drive your company,” explains “They’re fundamental to your branding and help guide every part of your business from the stories you tell through your messaging to the important decisions you make regarding your company’s future.”

To create more formal, documented brand values, start by brainstorming with your team.. Ask questions like “What is our brand’s purpose?” and “What do we value most as a company?” Next, consider these values from the customer’s perspective, e.g.,  “How are our values reflected in the customer experience?” Are you detail-obsessed? Quick and responsive to customer complaints and requests? Transparent about your process and challenges?

From there, consider which of the values you’ve identified resonate most with your customers. “While you may find that 10 or 15 values apply to your business, you’ll want to really focus on those that resonate with your audience,” says.

Narrow your list of brand values to the 3 to 5 that mean the most to your audience, based on your interactions with them and any customer research (e.g., surveys, interviews) you’ve collected.

Finally, write your brand’s unique value proposition. What truly sets you apart from similar or competitor brands? What can your customers get from you that they can’t get elsewhere? What is the problem you solve for them? “Maybe your brand has unique production practices, a personal mission consumers can support, or solves a problem that other brands cannot,” says an article on Whatever it is, “This unique value proposition should be clearly present during your activation.”

Project Goals and KPIs

What are your goals for the activation? What do you want to achieve with your brand activation? Your goals might include some combination of the following:

  • Increasing brand awareness and recognition
  • Launching a new product
  • Acquiring new customers
  • Nurturing brand loyalty with current customers
  • Growing your email list and/or social media following
  • Fostering community
  • Generating leads
  • Boosting sales and pre-orders
  • Educating consumers
  • Creating a positive brand association

All of these are objectives that can guide the creative process and shape the type of experience your activation offers. Turning those objectives into goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) will help you both create and measure success.

At this point, think ahead to the end of the project: How will you measure success when the activation is over? What will be your key performance indicators (KPIs)? Start thinking now about quantifiable and qualifiable ways to measure whether your activation has accomplished what you set out to do. Decide what success looks like for each of your specific goals, and work from there to determine the best way to assess it.

Once you’ve clarified your brand’s personality and set some goals for the activation, develop messaging around them. What impression do you want visitors to take away from this event? What actions do you want them to take next to help you achieve your goals for the activation?

Audience Insights and Engagement Strategy

Who are you trying to reach with your activation? Understanding your target audience’s demographics, interests, and online behavior is crucial for crafting a relevant experience. Knowing the audience’s preferences, behaviors, and pain points will help you strategize ways to encourage deeper engagement and participation in your activation. Here are a few of the many methods to learn more about your audience:

Seek direct feedback via polls: Create quick, targeted surveys or polls to ask your online audience about their preferences, challenges they face, and what kind of content they find valuable.

Run surveys: Consider running an annual, longer survey of your best customers and social media network, with an incentive for participation. “Because surveys are way more in-depth you can get a lot more information, but users know they have to invest a lot of time to fill out the answers so are less willing,” writes Niki May Blane in a blog post for Big Bee Content.

Interview customers: Conduct brief or more in-depth interviews with some of your best and most loyal customers to gain richer insights and understand their thought processes and why they chose (and continue to choose) your brand.

“Listen” online: Online listening means actively monitoring and analyzing online conversations, such as those on social media, to glean insights about your target audience. It’s like eavesdropping on a giant conversation happening across the internet, but in a focused way that gives you a better understanding of how your audience perceives your brand and the market landscape. As you “listen,” look for common themes, questions, and frustrations.

tazo x hilltop

Read customer reviews: Read reviews of your product or service, as well as comments and feedback left on your website or social media. You can find these on Yelp and Google, or by using a reviews tracking platform.

Collect social media insights: The analytics built into your social media offer a wealth of information. For example, Facebook’s audience insights “provide a fascinating overview of both the demographics (gender, age, location, etc.) of your audience and what content is connecting with them,” writes Blane.

Study your website analytics: Analyze website traffic data to see which pages are most popular, how long visitors stay on your site, and where they drop off. This can reveal their interests and content preferences. “If you have a website, this is the perfect place to start your search for data,” writes Scott Joseph in an article for J&L Marketing. The most important data points here are engagement (click-through rates, time spent on specific landing pages, and form completions); customer activity and behaviors while on your site (via cookies); and demographics. Find this information by setting up Google Analytics on your site; once it’s been running for a month or so, you’ll be able to start gathering useful data.

Create buyer personas: Once you’ve gathered data from these methods, synthesize it to create detailed buyer personas, fictional representations of your ideal customers that include their demographics, behaviors, goals, and pain points. Personas give you something to refer back to as you make decisions about what to include in your activation and how to present it.

By combining these techniques, you’ll gain a well-rounded understanding of your audience that you can use to strategize ways of engaging them.

Concept Development and Creative Brainstorming

Armed with a clearer sense of who your customers are and what interests them, brainstorm concepts that align with the brand’s identity and objectives while promising a unique and memorable experience for that audience.

“Brand activation is a multi-touch singular brand experience that helps increase brand awareness,” says in a recent blog post. The ideas need not be revolutionary, necessarily — and many activations are a combination of several different types of brand activation ideas such as a unique experience using surprising elements like giant props or unexpected uses of everyday items; product sampling or giveaways; technology like VR, AR, or photo booths; or social media campaigns like contests and drawings.

As you brainstorm, refer back to the materials you’ve already developed to guide your ideation and keep your team focused on the brand and its audience:

  • Focus on your brand’s values by asking how you can translate your core values into an interactive experience.
  • Leverage current events or popular trends to make your activation relevant.
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, to experiment and create unique experiences. See what competitors are doing and find ways to differentiate yourself.
  • Return again and again to the messaging and goals you established earlier. How can you communicate each message and achieve each goal in a way that’s fresh, compelling, and experiential?

Designing the Experience

When designing your brand activation, several key factors come into play to ensure it resonates with your target audience and achieves your goals, including the sensory experience, brand alignment, interactivity, and uniqueness.

Sensory experience: Creating an experience that engages the participant via multiple senses can dramatically enhance memorability and emotional connection. As you ideate, look for ways to involve not only sight and hearing but also touch, smell, and taste to capture visitors’ imagination.

Brand alignment: In addition to checking every element against your brand values, to make sure it’s an accurate reflection of who you are, look to your brand’s story — or the story of your industry, recent challenges it faces, problems that need to be solved — to inspire a compelling narrative that weaves through the activation. Human beings are wired for storytelling, and a story can both captivate participants and provide a cohesive, memorable, and impactful experience.

Interactivity: Engagement is key to connecting with your audience, and people crave interactive experiences. Design activities, challenges, or installations that allow your audience to participate and connect with your brand on a deeper level. Incorporating interactive elements ensures active participation, making the experience more engaging and personal. “This can be achieved through fun games, immersive displays, photo booths and touch-screen activities that allow customers to learn more about your brand and products,” writes Sarah Belanger in an article for

amika pop up

Uniqueness: While it may be true that today’s consumers have seen it all, they probably haven’t seen it from your brand. Regardless of whether an activation idea is 100% original or borrowed from an event you’ve seen or read about, if you’re presenting it through the filter of your brand’s unique story and personality, it will be new to participants.

Logistics and Execution

The goal with every experiential marketing event is for participants to feel immersed in the brand while they’re strolling through the activation, sampling products in the pop-up, or stepping into the booth at an expo. Immersion takes seamlessness, and that requires careful planning and management of every detail of the experience. Choosing the right location, incorporating technology, building the installations, and taking advantage of available experts at logistics and event planning will position your activation for success. Here are a few of the logistical and execution areas that require attention:

Location: Perhaps more than any other single factor, location has the potential to make or break a brand activation. “Select a venue that aligns with your brand and is easily accessible to your target audience,” advises. You can maximize the visibility and impact of your activation or pop-up by choosing a high-traffic area, popular shopping district, or themed location relevant to your brand. Meet your customers where they are by choosing a location already well known to your audience; this increases the chances that they’ll not only encounter your event spontaneously but also be willing to seek it out based on social media and other advertising.

Technology: There are many exciting tech options to consider for your brand activation, depending on your goals and target audience. “The right technology integration can make your brand activation more memorable, shareable, and align with the expectations of a tech-savvy audience,” says

The best technology for your brand activation will depend on your specific goals and target audience. Technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) help you create a fully immersive environment — a fantasy world constructed entirely around your brand that attendees can inhabit, however briefly. Interactive technologies like touchscreens, motion sensors, and other interactive displays can make your activation fun and engaging for attendees, allowing them to play games, learn about your product or services, or personalize their experience in other ways. Photo booths let attendees memorialize and play with the moment — and today’s photo booths create video content, post directly to social media, and let you gather data on attendees in other ways. Don’t forget about the potential of live polling and gamification, two ways to gather real-time feedback from attendees and create interactive games related to your brand.

Team selection and training: As you consider how the event will move from drawing board to real life, don’t leave out staffing, training, engagement tactics, and other, less-obvious aspects of execution. The skills and knowledgeability of the team and brand ambassadors staffing the event will help ensure an event that feels seamless and on-message to visitors.

Adaptation: Stay nimble — be prepared to scale up if attendance exceeds expectations, or to ramp up promotional efforts if it disappoints. Being ready to adapt in real time to unforeseen challenges and opportunities can help your team take the activation to the next level.

Partner with experts: If this all seems overwhelming … it actually can be. That’s why for many brands pulling together their first activation, the best option is collaborating with an experiential marketing agency well-versed in planning and executing logistically complex events. Think of these partnerships as an investment in creating a truly exceptional activation that’s fun, impactful, and memorable for attendees.

Create (and Maintain) Buzz

Promoting and buzz-building for a brand activation begin far in advance of the event. Teaser campaigns, social media, email marketing, and other channels can be used to create anticipation and excitement around the activation.

Create a unique hashtag: In the early planning stages of your activation, create a unique hashtag for use with all event-related social media posts, as well as on printed materials and signage distributed or used at or in advance of the brand activation. Your hashtag should be simple, relevant, memorable, and intentional — and it must be unique. Only by using a unique hashtag will you be able to collect data that reflects the actual awareness and reach of your activation.

Butterball x Bumble For Friends

Build a landing page: Another pre-activation must: assemble a landing page on your website specifically for the event. Distribute a unique QR code or short link for that page at the event and in all promotional materials. By tracking unique pageviews on that landing page, you’ll find out how many people were motivated to check you out pre- and post-event to get a sense of the activation’s reach. After the event, you can convert that page from landing page to scrapbook, with photos, videos, reviews, and other content generated by the event.

Create intrigue: Plant seeds of curiosity around your event. Use teasers on social media, obscure visuals with your branding, or post cryptic messages to pique audience interest.

Partner with influencers: Collaborate with social media influencers or celebrities that resonate with your target audience. They can announce the activation, share exclusive content, or even participate in planning and executing the event itself.

Public relations outreach: Get the media involved by pitching your activation to relevant publications or local news outlets to generate pre-event buzz.

Multi-channel promotion: Promote your activation across various channels. Utilize social media, email marketing, your website, and even offline channels like posters or flyers in relevant locations.

Social media contests: Host a social media contest leading up to the event. Encourage people to share creative content related to your brand or the activation for a chance to win.

Paid advertising: Consider targeted social media ads or influencer partnerships to reach a wider audience and generate excitement.

Keep the buzz alive: The buzz-building shouldn’t end after the event ends — remember that attendees have likely taken photos and shot video at the event, and they’ll be looking for recaps online. Extend the conversation by sharing those recaps, photos, and videos on social media, and encourage attendees to do the same. Respond to comments and messages about the activation. Show appreciation to those who participated and shared their experience.

Post-Event Analysis and Learning

The best advice for post-event analysis and assessment? Begin in the planning stages: build measurement into the activation from the earliest stages, then reap the data you have sown when it’s all over. Measuring the effectiveness of your brand activation involves looking at various metrics across different stages, but ultimately, it all comes back to whether the event nailed your goals and objectives. Here are some metrics to examine:

Track event attendance: Keep track of the number of attendees — this is one of the gold standards of experiential marketing effectiveness tracking. Counting heads can help determine whether your promotional efforts paid off, if your location was the right one, if your event was appealing, or if the content of your event was a hit with the target audience.

Social media reach and engagement: Look for mentions of your brand name or branded elements used during the activation to understand its overall visibility. Track the number of people who used your event hashtag, mentions of your brand, and overall social media engagement (likes, comments, shares) before, during, and after the activation.

Website traffic: Monitor website traffic, particularly on landing pages related to the activation, to see if there’s a surge in interest.

Media coverage: Track any media mentions you received surrounding the activation, including articles, mentions on TV, or radio appearances.

Brand sentiment analysis: Use social listening tools to track the sentiment of online conversations about your brand and activation. This will tell you if the buzz is positive or negative. Tracking this before and after the event can tell you whether the activation moved the needle for your brand.

Survey attendees: Conduct surveys after the activation to gather feedback on attendee experience, brand perception, and overall satisfaction.

Track online reviews: Monitor online reviews and feedback platforms to see if there’s a change in sentiment toward your brand after the activation.

Track website conversions: See if there’s an increase in conversions (signups, purchases) on your website after the activation. If you offered any discounts or promotional codes during the activation, track their usage to see how many sales they generated.

Lead generation: Measure the number of leads captured during the activation through sign-ups, email capture forms, or app downloads.

Compare to past activations: If you’ve done similar activations before, compare the metrics to see if there’s an improvement.


By looking at a combination of these factors, you’ll gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your brand activation and can use this data to improve future initiatives.


Promobile Marketing is a dynamic experiential marketing agency based in New York City. For over a decade, Promobile Marketing has collaborated with a range of brands—from budding startups to major CPG brands—on immersive marketing campaigns. Get in touch to discuss your next project.