Today, consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting products and services on the market. Imagine purchasing a smartphone: a myriad of options are readily available, from iPhone, Samsung, to Huawei, Oppo and more. There is no denying that brands are currently faced with the challenge of rising above the competition and positioning themselves as leaders in the industry.
As our world continues to evolve and embrace technology, digital advertising and marketing have grown in prevalence, proving to be a more affordable way to grow brand visibility and presence. While that might be true, the online landscape is nonetheless, highly saturated with global digital advertising and marketing spend estimated at 602.25 billion US dollars in 2022 and projected to reach 786.1 billion US dollars by 2026.
Therefore, one of the most effective ways for brands to enhance brand awareness is to leverage offline or physical advertising and marketing in tandem with their online efforts. This approach is also known as brand activation.
Brand activation is highly associated with creating an experience through offline events. Using consumer-facing tactics and physical promotional methodologies, brand activation is a marketing approach that is high-touch, event-based and engagement-focused. Not only does this accentuate a brand’s image, personality and identity but it also enables greater top-of-mind recall, fosters positive emotions and associations to the brand, empowers brand retention and ultimately builds customer loyalty. While recalling your recent brand interactions, have you noticed a subtle shift from conventional campaigns to dynamic, technology-driven engagements? Do they seem to be more memorable and impactful?
No doubt, more and more brands are maximising the power of experience, employing branded experiential marketing strategies to engage with their target audiences. The capability and outcomes brand activation can deliver should not be undermined. As such, this article will serve as a comprehensive guide that encapsulates everything you need to know about brand activation, from how to create an unforgettable brand experience, what digital customer experience means, and how Dezign Format can help to conceptualise and design compelling brand activation events.
Creating a Memorable Brand Experience in Singapore
Before delving into how you can create an engaging brand experience, it is first crucial to understand what a brand experience is. In the next part of this article, we will explore more about brand experience and discuss how you can create your very own event, one your consumers will speak of even after your event is long completed.
What is Brand Experience?
Brand experience should engage all senses, from thoughts, feelings to reactions garnered in response to a brand. Having a great brand experience transcends the types of media or channels used. Rather, it is the result of a lasting impression that remains after a person interacts with a brand through its setting, theme or experience. This is where experiential design comes into play – positive brand experience fosters relationships, inspires audiences and most importantly, delivers results. It is what convinces a customer to choose one brand over another. This is why companies deem it a worthy investment to go to great lengths to develop noteworthy and enticing brand experiences. Now comes the inevitable question at hand, how exactly can a brand create an engaging brand experience?
How to Create an Engaging Brand Experience
- Engage the senses
- Get involved in virtual events
- Incorporate modern pop culture
- Personalise your brand’s message
Bringing your brand experience to life through brand activation is easier than you imagine and there are a variety of ways in which you can do so. Here, we list down four popular techniques used by various brands to elevate consumers’ experience and reinforce their thought-leadership, innovativeness and commitment to creating authentic brand experiences.
- Engage the senses
Strong brand awareness and engagement are made possible when scent, flavours, and textures synergise with visuals and aesthetics. Engaging the senses builds emotional connection and encourages repeated visits. In addition, with the rise of social media, people are more inclined to share their experiences online readily and verbally through personal recommendations.
As the visual aspect of the product showcase is always one of a few factors that helps to engage audiences, focusing on presentation and outlook is perhaps one of the most important factors with regards to sensory branding. To fully engage your audience, you may want to consider all aspects of the experience, including your visual merchandising displays, exhibition booths and retail interior design. It is also important to incorporate your brand voice and positioning into physical elements of the event and take notice of how appealing and captivating the visuals are to your target audiences.
Experience and senses go hand in hand. They work together harmoniously to improve brand experience, emphasise your brand’s values and personality and distinguish your brand from others.
- Get involved in Virtual Events
Now that we have established the vitality of engaging the senses in brand activation, what comes to mind next is how you can involve the senses when it comes to virtual events.
Virtual events were highly popular at the peak of the global pandemic. As we head towards a new normal, physical events are gaining traction again at a fast pace; however, that is not to say that virtual events are being completely phased out. With the convenience and unique experience they bring, virtual events are here to stay.
Though most virtual events tend to fall under a misconception that it is challenging to invigorate the senses, this is not true. Sensory appeal and extended brand exposure are made possible even in virtual events as well – businesses can create powerful brand experiences by including their brand in a larger-scale event – or by creating one on their own.
Virtual events activate the sense of sight with compelling and gripping on-screen images. Should you be using slides, elevate them with eye-catching colours and content to convey information. On the other hand, if you are presenting in your own space, it is advisable to stage a themed backdrop, ensuring that it is alluring and reflects your brand image well.
By incorporating auditory elements during the virtual event, you can rouse your audiences with live entertainment or even broadcast music during registration and waiting time to liven up the mood. Utilising relevant sounds such as drum rolls when tallying results and trumpets when announcing winners can uplift emotions too. While both visuals and sounds are fantastic ways to engage the sense of sight and hearing, be careful not to overwhelm your audiences.
Lastly, when it comes to physical sensory elements, why not showcase your creativity by sending your attendees fun goodie packages consisting of samples, treats or even themed costumes for that extra impression. When your audience interacts with these packages during the virtual event, stronger brand associations and emotions are formed.
- Incorporate modern pop culture
Pop culture presents endless opportunities for brands to connect with audiences. Furthermore, as social media grows in prevalence, incorporating pop culture references into your brand activation may just be the key to going viral. Though pop culture elements tend to work during specific moments in time, the event outcome and overall traction can be positive when it is executed at the peak of its popularity. As such, careful timing and attention to detail are crucial.
Once you have mastered the art of integrating pop culture into your brand experience, your brand is more likely to be distinctive and impactful, helping you achieve extended awareness and reach all round.
Taking Netflix’s Umbrella Academy brand activation strategy as an example, the team at Dezign Format was tasked to create immersive ‘super rooms’ done up with each space reflecting the superhero characters in the series.
Visitors were encouraged to solve the challenges that each super room presented, akin to the growing trend of escape rooms around the world. Not only did Netflix successfully maximise the pop culture experience, they also managed to blend it in relevance to the show. The characters had to get themselves out of challenging situations through quick, critical thinking. Emphasising the show’s storyline by combining pop culture and user interaction in this way evoked curiosity for the series and reflected Netflix’s creative and innovative brand personality.
- Personalise Your Brand Message Through Experiential Means
Every brand has its own unique story and while it may be important to share it as part of the brand activation strategy, it is also imperative for brands to be a part of their customer’s story. This is where personalisation and the help of an experiential designer may come in useful.
One of the best ways to add that personal touch through brand activation is the use of technology such as artificial reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). In our highly digitised landscape where technology continues to evolve and advance, AR and VR elements have become favoured and highly effective AR augments your live environment with digital elements that can be viewed on smart devices while VR does away with the real world and puts the user in a completely immersive, simulated reality.
For instance, retail beauty and lifestyle brands have both incorporated the use of AR to enhance their customers’ experience by developing applications that allow them to try the product virtually in the comfort of their personal space.
Apart from this, elements of mixed reality have been integrated into physical experiences to enhance the customer’s journey in-store. To bring awareness to the recent launch of Magnum’s first Asia-inspired flavoured ice cream, the team at Dezign Format has fabricated a detailed model of a Japanese-inspired landscape in a miniature size. While the Magnum Mini Matcha World project featured a detailed model of the local scenes, the guests were invited to participate in a series of interactive mobile games to search for hidden Mini Magnum Matcha ice-creams. Ice creams were hidden inconspicuously within the game, making for an immersive activity of spot-the-treasure where all visitors could engage themselves in. Such events allow brands to connect with customers on a more intimate level and in a way that complements and enhances their lives and experiences. Customers are also rewarded with an immersive and unforgettable brand experience in exchange for letting brands be a part of their story.
A Guide to Designing Engaging Brand Activation Activities
With a better understanding of how to create a memorable brand experience, the next step lies in taking concrete steps to chart out brand activation activities that customers and visitors will enjoy. In the next portion of our guide, we will explore some of the popular brand activation activities you can leverage on and showcase how we incorporated the activities into our clients’ brand activation campaigns.
Telling a Story through Themed Experiences
Today, automation and technology have paved the way for a fast-paced, digitally driven society, making human interaction a more valuable experience. As the Internet offers instant gratification and convenience, it has largely reduced physical interactions. Hence, businesses can leverage this phenomenon by connecting with their audiences, appealing to them emotionally and engaging with them at a much deeper level than ever before. The solution? – Brand storytelling.
Stories have existed for centuries and transcend generations. It is an innate part of human evolution and survival, allowing us to communicate, share our experiences and build communities. Through stories, we form richer bonds, empower empathy and have stronger impressions of others’ ordeals, tribulations and circumstances as if they were our own. It is no wonder that brand storytelling in brand activation has become a sought-after, marketing approach.
Brand storytelling, contrary to popular belief, goes beyond sharing and mentioning your brand. It revolves around your audiences, placing focus on them as the main character and creating meaningful relationships with them through stories. A powerful and authentic brand story that involves your audience will naturally connect back to the invaluableness of your brand. One of the ways you can achieve this is through a themed brand experience. Choosing a relevant theme and building your brand activation strategy around it makes for more effective brand awareness and top-of-mind recall.
At Dezign Format, we understand the importance of themed experiences. One of our projects involved educating consumers on everything they needed to know about energy in Singapore and how harnessing clean energy leads to a sustainable future. As energy cannot be visualised, learning about it can be quite the challenge. However, with careful spatial planning and design, we created structured and interactive displays to showcase educational content across visual and engaging platforms. Interactive elements had visitors vying against their family and friends for the position of top utilities and energy planner. No doubt, the theme centred on energy conservation and the brand storytelling shone a spotlight on the audience rather than the brand, highlighting how their actions can contribute to a greener, more eco-friendly landscape.
Recreating In-store Experiences
Brand activation aims to establish trust and loyalty between your brand and your target audiences. Creating a true-to-life, immersive experience to engage them is one of the ways you can consider bridging any existing gaps. This is also known as experiential marketing, a favoured brand activation strategy. Rather than promoting your products through a traditional marketing approach, think about your target audience, what they require and how your brand can benefit them. Focus instead on the values your brand believes in and the positive messages you wish to convey.
Creating an in-store experience is a great way to accomplish this. When it comes to trust and loyalty, physical triumphs online interactions as they enable you to showcase your sincerity and genuineness more effectively. So, what creates an impressionable in-store experience?
An in-store experience as its name suggests, guides how your target audience experiences your brand when they are physically at the store. There are several components that make up the in-store experience from the moment a customer walks into the minute they leave. For first impressions, aesthetics is key. Capture your visitors’ attention with a vibrant, creative and most importantly, immersive experiential design, that at the same time reflects your brand personality and image. Apart from style and ambience, it is also crucial to make a lasting impression with interactions. This can be part of your retail interior design or the way you talk and engage with them.
The team at Dezign Format has successfully crafted a visually pleasing shopping experience for customers at Sephora, ION. The Dior Beach Club Summer Pop-Up was inspired by beachgoers who wished to maintain a flawless make-up look that lasted throughout the day even under the sun. Taking a traditional design of a pop-up store to the next level, we incorporated a beach concept akin to the summer theme. With a set-up resembling a beach party completed with LED visual panels displaying waves pulsating in rhythmic beats, visitors could enjoy the summer vibes in comfort while trying on their favourite make-up products. We spun a twist on the visual merchandising display as well as interior décor like lollipops and cocktail glasses that were used to complement Dior’s makeup products. Ultimately, this in-store experience was rendered to be both a memorable and unforgettable one.
Creating Custom Activities
Organising events is a great way to attract attendees, but might not necessarily lead to a final sale. As a business, you would want visitors to stay, learn more about your brand and make a purchase. Having activities and interactive elements can help to supplement this. Spaces and products are a dime a dozen, it is the experience that sets one event apart from another. Thus, consider implementing interactive elements or having activities arranged throughout different areas of your event. This is especially useful when people arrive or wait in line, as it entices them to stay, engages and lets the audience interact with your brand from the get-go.
With years of expertise and experience, our team at Dezign Format are adept when it comes to creating enticing personalised activities. This is exhibited in one of our projects with Estée Lauder – the leading brands in the beauty industry. The main custom activity for this event involved having three global make-up artists offer personalised makeovers for customers. The make-up artists also took the time to take visitors through a detailed explanation on achieving the best make-up looks. Doing this not only positioned Estée Lauder as a brand that cared about how its customers felt but also as a brand that was willing to impart its skills and knowledge to boost their confidence. In addition, an interactive gift vending machine was also included, dispensing unique gifts for customers.
Besides planning custom activities, we ensured that their retail interior design was Instagram-worthy. Bright and stimulating shades of hot and neon pink style easily caught the eyes of those in the vicinity while the open-concept layout maximised the flow of traffic for greater movement and interactions.
Though there are a variety of aspects surrounding brand activation, its importance in bringing a brand to life and connecting that brand to audiences cannot be understated. From creating engaging brand experiences to designing brand activation activities, brand activation distinguishes your brand, helping it stand out among a sea of competitors.
Nonetheless, brand activation requires a lot of craftwork and those who are new to it may require an expert for support. At Dezign format, we deliver quality services Adopting a customer-first approach, we take into account both your preferences and your brand’s image and identity as well to provide holistic solutions. Our services encompass all touchpoints of the design and build management process.
- Conceptualise: We prioritise our customers’ needs. Our ideas and concepts are developed with your brief and brand requirements in mind, ensuring that the message of your brand is communicated accurately.
- Design: With a better understanding of your needs, ideas are drafted and designs and styles are complemented with leveraging graphic design, 3D modelling and technical drawings.
- Fabricate: While some event management companies in Singapore specialise in either design or fabrication individually, we are proficient in both, combining our crafts across carpentry, metalsmithing and sculpting. We recommend engaging companies that can perform design and fabrication to eliminate liaising with multiple parties for a more seamless process.
- Project Management: With regards to event-based projects and campaigns, time is of the essence. Effective project management is required for cost and time efficiency, with the best outcome. From project scheduling and permitting of clearances to the supervision of installation and dismantling, we manage every aspect of your project, allowing you to focus on other parts of your business with greater peace of mind.
With over 30 years of pioneering experience in the industry, we are well positioned to guide you in your brand activation campaigns. Aside from brand activation, we are experts in other areas of design and build management as well including developing themed experiences, incorporating festive décor, creating events and exhibitions and more. Get your brand the recognition it deserves and have your event and brand management needs fulfilled with Dezign Format today! Contact our team for any of your project queries today.