Brand Activations: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

brand activations 2024 guide header


It’s May (hold for a terrible Justin Timberlake joke). The sun is shining, the leaves and flowers are returning, and you may notice more and more brands are “doing things.” These “things” may be product samplings, events at tourist hot spots, or pop-up shops. You might also notice more giveaways on social media or your friends talking about business summits they’ve recently attended. These are examples of brand experiences or activations, and when used strategically, they can profoundly affect your brand’s public perceptions and bottom line. In this article, we’ll go over what a brand activation is, how it supports overall marketing efforts, some KPIs to measure activation success, and, of course, hype up some DDL examples. Now, if you could fill out this form, we’ll get your swag bag ready for you.

What is a Brand Activation?

A brand activation is an event, sponsorship, giveaway, or online experience that showcases your brand in a compelling way. Brand activations can be lavish and over the top, like when Jacquemus transformed Parsian trolleys into handbags. They can also be wildly creative, like when Wendy’s teamed up with Ricky and Morty for this drive-through experience.

Let’s look at an example to better understand what an activation can be. And who better to use as an example of achieving brand activation than Taylor Swift, the queen of activation?

Longplex Family and Sports Center in Tiverton recently hosted a skate party sponsored by a local radio station to listen to Taylor Swift’s newest album. The radio station gave away a slew of prizes to its exclusive winners, Longplex provided food and skate rentals, and opened the event to the general public to increase participation. This resulted in a serge of brand awareness and bringing in 30 new patrons to Longplex’s facility.

  1. From a branding and marketing perspective, this activation did several things.
    It brought new customers into Longplex via the listen-to-win experience
  2. It married Longplex’s brand with megastar Taylor Swift, increasing brand affinity with existing customers
  3. It created the opportunity for future business

After experiencing a successful event, some survey participants were more likely to return to Longplex for their child’s birthday or another reason. These returns are significant, but accomplishing all three with one tactic shows how brand activations can affect your business.

How do Brand Activations Support Marketing Campaigns?

As noted in our example, brand activations can convert audiences to customers or brand evangelists in one swoop. With other marketing methods, a viewer might need up to 7 impressions of your brand before even considering a purchase. However, brand activations or experiences can convert to only one instance.

We and Uncle Ben have said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Just because activities and experiences are a thing doesn’t mean they are always right for your business. Could you imagine if Chipotle had sampling events every day? Or if landscapers did constant social media giveaways of their services? Customers would never spend money on the brands.

To run a successful brand activation or experience, a strategy must be laid behind the fundamental question, “Why are we doing this?” These experiences take time, effort, and budget to execute successfully. Moreover, standout brand activations require your business to flex its creative muscles pretty hard.

Remotes (remember Remotes? If you don’t, anyone who works in radio does) are dead. Giveaways are a great way to build social followers, but your metrics will suffer if the prize isn’t worth it. Brand experiences must showcase your brand to capture your audience’s attention. Now, we aren’t saying an insurance company needs to have a big summer blowout, but taking the time or hiring a creative agency (wassup 😉) to come up with a concept that aligns well with your brand can make the difference between an event that slays, or a dud.

To help you out, here are some instances when an activation could work in your strategy.

  • A product launch: Look for ways to integrate this product into a case for your customer and expand on that.
  • Seasonality: Does your business thrive in the winter or summer? Lean into those seasonal changes to create an experience highlighting why your product or service is essential during that season.
  • A Rebrand: There’s no better way, in our opinion, to celebrate a new version of you than with a party or experience that clearly shows your audience who the new you is.
  • A Collaboration: Have you been leveraging influencers? Is there something you both love that your audiences love as well? Expand on that. Or create a joint giveaway. For example, these two influencers did just this Seasons Corner Market’s Giving Pump Promotion.
  • Announcing New Technology or Information: Similar to a product launch, this activation is a summit, a meeting of critical stakeholders, that people can benefit from what you have to say. Think Apple’s Town Hall (where they take Android features and yassify them so people think Apple did it first. Shoutout to #teamandroid).

How to Measure the Effectiveness of a Brand activation:

Before they sign off on your big activation, leadership will undoubtedly ask, “How are you going to measure the ROI of this? What are your KPIs?” To sound extra prepared, you can reply, “Would you like ROI, ROE, or both?”

ROE, or return on experience, is not necessarily one specific metric, but rather an arsenal of metrics you can watch to determine the effectiveness of your experience. These can include things like:

  • Number of emails collected
  • Number of free samples given away
  • Responses from polls
  • Number of coupons redeemed
  • How many people attended the event or experience
  • Amount of new social followers attributed to the event
  • Social chatter about the experience using a specific hashtag

The list goes on.

While measuring the actual financial return of a brand activation or experience is essential, actual numbers are not generally available immediately following an event. Brand activations, as we’ve mentioned, aren’t point-of-sale focused. Of course, you should have items to sell at your activations. The goal is to position your brand sentiments and ideology to potential new customers. It’s reported that those who have a positive experience are likely to:

  • Discuss them with up to 17 other people
  • 93% of consumers feel more connected to a brand after participation
  • 98% of participants are more inclined to purchase those without such an experience
  • 65% of marketers notice a direct sales boost from experiential marketing

It’s important to go into an activation understanding you may not actually “sell” anything the day of. Still, you will gather much consumer data for future sales and potential repeat customers.

DDL Examples of Brand Activations:

You didn’t think we’d let you leave this blog without some of our favorite brand activations, did you? Here’s a look at some of the cool sh*t we made happen.


At the center of Rhode Island culture, you’ll find PVDFest: a festival that showcases the best art, food, and culture Lil Rhody has to offer. Each year, we partner with Firstworks and the City of Providence to design all the creative, provide social media management, and get the word out. We’re also on hand the day of to create content. It’s one of our favorite events every year and we look forward to putting our DDL spin on this iconic festival.

Note: DDL has no control over location, date, or any other logistic information surrounding the event. Those details are handled by the City of Providence and the Mayor’s office.

RIDEM Quahog Week:

Quahog week is a highly anticipated annual event that happens in Rhode Island – thanks to the RI Department of Environmental Management. At this event, Rhode Island’s shellfishers, markets, and vendors come together to create a fun atmosphere for taste-testing our state’s freshest catches.

DDL was tasked with advertising the event in the months preceding it to generate awareness and buzz.

Still stumped on how to bring your activation to life? Let us know, and we can make your next or first brand activation a total success.