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The Tools of Effective Activation
May 13, 2024

The Tools of Effective Activation

Activating a brand comes with a laundry list of decisions. Who are we trying to reach? How much will we invest? How will we resonate? Where will we show up? What will we say? At Superhuman, we ground questions like these in principles of effectiveness. Said another way, we tie how you invest in activation to the reasons you’re spending money in the first place. We’re not here to make fun things for the sake of coolness. (Of course, that’s not to diminish fun things if they are in service of your business goals!) Here are seven principles we follow to activate a brand effectively.

Know what you want to achieve

Activating your brand through paid, earned, and owned channels can help to achieve many objectives; provoking immediate action, generating leads, closing sales, creating buzz, building affinity, and fueling long-term growth. The creative approach that will best help to achieve each of these objectives looks a little different. So to effectively activate in service of your business goals, it’s critical to first identify which goals you’re looking to influence.

Invest in performance and brand marketing

“Performance” marketing is lauded for its ability to demonstrate ROI and deliver quick results. “Brand” marketing promotes long-term business growth by influencing people who don’t need you today, but might in the future. Why invest there? The general rule is that at any given moment, 95% of a market isn’t looking for a new solution today. However, these people will need a new solution someday, and when they do, the benefits of brand marketing kick into gear and they’ll turn to what they know. Brand marketing is really the creation of future demand. To be most effective, balance both types.


“Brand marketing is really the creation of future demand.”

Lee Cerier, 
Head of Strategy

Invite creativity to the table

There are many elements in a piece of communication that work together to drive a desired outcome like context, targeting, recency, reach, and the brand itself. Studies from WARC and Google have shown that the creative itself accounts for nearly half of what ultimately contributes to sales. In other words, the message and strategy behind it is critical! So, to be effective, don’t just optimize your media, focus on what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.

Move people to move business

Think back to your earliest memories. How were you feeling in these moments? Chances are, there are strong emotions tied to each memory. It’s no accident, our brains remember what makes us feel. This makes moving people an incredibly powerful business tool, because to be effective, advertising (and the company behind it) must be remembered. Further, in the case of B2B decision-making, buyers are often weighing several similar products. What ultimately makes the difference isn’t incremental cost savings or replicable product features, it’s how they perceive of and connect to a company.

Use your brand assets

Distinctive brand assets are elements other than a name that signal a brand. Think National Geographic’s yellow box, Heinz’s red #C82922, Mailchimp’s distinctive Means font, the sound of a Coke opening, or Hinge’s Hingie mascot. When you bring brand elements like these into activation in new and interesting ways, you build new meaning into them while expanding the toolkit of elements that make you, you.

Match message to medium

Are you activating to drive website traffic? Paid social will help you get there, while running a print campaign will be an uphill battle. Aiming to improve brand health measures? Out-of-home is a smart investment while paid search won’t go as far. It’s important to not only consider how your creative will help you achieve your goals, but how you can utilize media appropriately. Different channels are naturally suited to help achieve different objectives, and mapping goals to messages and mediums gives you the best shot at effectively activating your brand.

Commit to the long term

Testing and learning before committing big to a creative concept is smart. But, testing and learning indefinitely sacrifices effectiveness. Committing to fewer but larger and enduring campaigns is the most effective way to grow your business over the long term. Think AirBnb’s “Belong Anywhere” platform or “Creativity For All” from Adobe. These concepts flex to achieve many tasks over a long period while positioning the company in the same fundamental way every time.

If you’re interested in partnering with Superhuman to activate your brand, send us a note at VAN@SUPERHUMAN.AGENCY. We love to talk and share a presentation that unpacks many of these ideas in more depth.

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