You’ve developed strong positioning that places you firmly in the hearts and minds of customers – check.
You’ve built out your brand architecture by capturing the core elements of your company
and have identified how these can be expressed to deliver the most value – check.
What next? How do you take these key findings from stagnant words on a page to bring your brand to life?
We call this brand activation.
Brand activation has two components.
The first is internal activation. This is about how you will bring the company’s message to life throughout the organisation.
The second is external activation. This is about how you will bring your company’s message to life out into the world. This is usually where your marketing sits.
Put simply, activation is the action steps a business needs to take in order to implement the brand strategy. It’s a step by step road map that is allocated to members of the team to execute.
Activation plans are customised to each business based on the brand objectives and individual strategies, but to give you an example – here are some of the items you might want to include in your brand activation plan.
Great brands start on the inside out. The more your brand is embraced internally, the more successful it will be externally.
Here are some of the steps you can take to activate your brand in house.
Establish clear and ongoing goals for the brand
In HR and hiring
Develop an employee handbook that outlines the company’s brand strategy. This would include the company’s vision, reason for being, employee value propositions, culture and how everyone can contribute to the greater good by being part of the organisation. This will be integral for onboarding and will help managers hire talent who are good culture fits with the brand.
Purpose, values and culture
If you don’t already have one, it’s a great idea to develop a framework that ensures your company remains on purpose, living up to your company values and maintaining your culture to the highest standards. Companies that do that not only have higher levels of employee engagement, but these values are also felt out in the market place.
External Brand Standards
It can be handy to develop an External Brand Standards document that also aligns with your culture, extends on your brand values and clearly outlines what is important to you when dealing with key stakeholders, suppliers and contractors in order to maintain the highest levels of brand reputation by extension.
Full team integration
Once you’re ready to press play on your branding, it’s important to get all team members across the new narrative – ways you can do this are…
- A team presentation
- A handout to outline the company’s full brand and communication strategy, how it will be implemented, and the team’s role in it (individually and departmental), including employee value propositions and benefits of being part of the company.
- A team-building activity for brand integration
How much or little your brand is embraced starts at the top. Regular think tanks or meetings should be held with the leadership team to develop ongoing ways the brand can be embraced and expressed company-wide.
All communications to reflect the new narrative. Create a list of internal communication items that might need to be changed due to your new brand strategy. This could be things such as email signatures, forms, documents and letterheads – or even things like sales scripts or customer greetings. Every touchpoint is an opportunity to optimise your message and add brand value.
External activation is the brand marketing and communication activities required to get your message out to the world. The goal is to build as large a footprint as you can by using general marketing and digital strategy across the board. This will vary from business to business but some of your external communication touchpoints could range from the following…
Update your existing marketing and advertising plan
You may currently have a great plan in place that just needs optimising with the new elements of your brand for stronger targeting, messaging and overall strategy. If that’s the case, then this is a great place to start.
Using elements of your positioning and brand architecture, develop your brand narrative and roll it out across…
- Your website
- Social media profiles and bios
- Any other digital touchpoints
Establish three to four core content pillars that branch off your brand narrative that address the needs of your core audience, then design a content marketing plan around it.
Products and services
Ensure the descriptions of your core products and services are up to date and align with your new branding
Establish a list and then roll out your updated brand / messaging across all physical marketing collateral, including broachers, business cards, signage etc…
Building new relationships
Look at who is part of your wider community and establish key relationships or joint ventures. For example, a company who’s targeting millennials with a wellbeing product or service may want to link up with mental health charities, events such as Wanderlust, retreat based organisations or even wholefood stores.
Other areas of marketing you can rollout your brand to may include email marketing, lead captures, referral marketing, customer loyalty schemes, testimonials, PR and good old fashioned paid advertising.
Part of your external activation may start with establishing a new marketing and communication plan based on your new brand strategy and goals. Remember, this is the road map of how you can bring your brand to life.
Many businesses write their brand strategy and then leave it on the shelf, missing out on vital opportunities to establish strong relationships that take people from prospects to life-long customers.
Without a solid brand activation plan that looks at all aspects inside and outside of your business, you don’t have a brand strategy. Activation is what brings you brand to life and into the hearts of customers.