How to Activate Your Brand and Make the Number


The CEO isn’t awestruck by your creative choices. He or she is focused on acquiring new leads. And asking how, exactly, your efforts will generate demand.


To satisfy your boss, you’ll need more than a slick new design.


Below, we’ll walk you through a best-in-class brand activation process. And we’ll cover what you need to consider along the way. Brand Planning isn’t complete without a Brand Activation plan.


Brand Planning vs. Brand Activation:

Brand planning establishes the narrative for your brand promise, brand identity, and value proposition. Brand planning gives you your most visual, most succinct elevator pitch to attract business.


Brand activation operationalizes your brand plan—making it a reality in the market.


Internally, brand activation begins with disseminating new design templates. Externally, there’s much more to the process than meets the eye.


  • Established brands must tackle market perceptions that are outdated. Or entirely baseless. Buyers need a compelling reason to look at these brands in new ways.
  • New brands are starting from square one. They’re fighting for brand awareness and attempting to instill their desired brand identity.


How to Get the Results Your CEO Wants:

Getting a new brand up and running (and delivering value) requires lots of research. Ongoing attention to the finest details (some of which are commonly overlooked). And asking the right questions to measure progress. 


To make a meaningful impact, you must do these before, during, and/or after the launch.


Understand the Perception Gap:

How do you want to be known, and how are you known? Don’t survey your biggest fans. Instead, ask those who know the industry well for their thoughts on your brand. Then identify the perceptions you need to shift. And address them head on.


Fully Deploy Your Marketing Assets:

Your goal is to make your new design templates easy to apply. Right down to the default fonts. Focus on enabling correct usage, rather than just policing violations. If you do encounter errors, it means your assets are being used (that’s good). You’ll just need to do a little retraining.


Also, make sure the new standards aren’t underutilized in custom documents and sales presentations. For example, add 2-3 custom slides that bring the brand to life. Ditch the off-putting legalese. Even the tiniest detail can affect brand perception. 


Communicate Internally:

You should launch your new brand as you would a new product: with lots of energy. Build excitement throughout the organization. Get your leaders to share positive stories they’ve heard from customers about the new brand. Ask the sales team for comments they’ve received as well.


Bring VIP Clients on Board:

A “sneak peek” is a great way to foster intimacy with key accounts. Before you activate the brand, let a few longtime customers know you’ll be launching soon. Make clear the new brand reflects their input, and your desire to serve them better. Use the occasion as an opportunity to say “thanks.”


Measure the Results:

KPIs include brand awareness, brand affinity (excitement for the brand), and purchase intent.


  • Conduct a brand study (control versus exposed) to provide a baseline. Question participants about various brand attributes that make up the complete brand experience. (Service, support, pricing, etc.) Then note the differences in brand affinity and purchase intent.


  • Conduct blind surveys to gauge brand awareness. Don’t provide any company names, including your own. Ask something like, “Among leading providers, who would you recommend to a peer?” If your brand is mentioned unaided, you’ll know you’re making traction.


  • In your analysis, include lagging indicators such as sales-qualified leads. How many opportunities are you bringing in?


Try this: We’ve created a Brand Activation Checklist to help you review your brand activation plan. The checklist will assist with communicating your brand inside and outside the organization.  It’s also helpful for closely inspecting each element of your brand activation plan.  Download it here


Remember: The Brand Matters Less Than the “Why” Behind It:

Think of brand activation as telling your brand story over time. Specifically, why your brand changed, how you’ve evolved, the problems you uniquely solve. All with your customer as the hero.


How buyers experience your new brand is most telling of all. Lay the proper groundwork by enhancing every touchpoint in the buyer journey. And make your buyers a central part of the launch. Beyond enhancing your company’s image, you’ll enhance its business prospects long term.


Vince Koehler

Brings deep marketing expertise to help clients make brands successful and drive strong marketing return on investment.
Learn more about Vince Koehler >

Prior to SBI, Vince served as the VP of Marketing for Integer and led e-commerce Agency of Record account teams at VML, a full service digital marketing agency. During his tenure, VML became a market leader, growing from 72 to more than 700 employees. Prior to VML, Vince was the President of Propeller Interactive, a digital marketing agency with clients such as Koch & Sprint.

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