10 Key Takeaways from the ANA Brand Activation Conference

June 21, 2018

By Mike Kaufman


The recently completed ANA Brand Activation Conference welcomed 13 inspiring, senior-level brand marketers who shared their successes with a record crowd in downtown Chicago. Marketers spend up to $600 billion on brand activation and its six pillars of experiential, promotion, content, influencer, relationship, and shopper marketing, according to PQ Media. At the conference, attendees learned how this area of marketing is helping companies reach and exceed growth objectives through building brands and driving action.

Brands, from disruptor to iconic, were represented across a wide range of verticals that includes CPG, retail, financial services, media, and personal products. As usual, a number of common themes threaded their way through the two days of presentations. Speakers homed in on the ideas of being consumer-centric and focusing on creating and nurturing relationships, leveraging experiences, deepening engagement, and making emotional connections.

These were my 10 key takeaways from their presentations:

  1. Brand activation allows the physical, digital, and social part of your brand to work in harmony. Even if you are a brick-and-mortar, you still drive revenue through digital and social.
  2. Challenger brands must work to build a following. Because challenger brands cannot rely on brand recognition, they should identify a narrow target audience and invite customers to be part of something special.
  3. When activating via content marketing, it is imperative that you serve value and/or entertainment to your consumer.
  4. Experiential marketing is a great means for brands to cultivate a reciprocal relationship with customers. By providing memorable, complimentary value, a brand's interactions with consumers can transcend mere transactions.
  5. Activating a campaign benefits from a strong story arc, the use of iconic assets, emotional connection with the audience, and a disruptive way of telling the story.
  6. Retail environments are changing rapidly and evolving into a more important community vehicle for experiences, branding, social media sharing, and generating buzz.
  7. It is important to foster customer satisfaction by putting the customer first and promoting positivity and individuality.
  8. It is more important than ever to transform your shopper experience. Encourage your employees to take risks, engage your customers, and create solutions for their problems.
  9. Delivering delightful and seamless experiences that anticipate your most valuable customers' needs is no longer just nice to have; it's now expected. And at the heart of these dynamic, personalized experiences is a detailed understanding of who your customers really are.
  10. The goal for any marketer should be to transform the way consumers not only think about brands but how they experience and respond to them by offering new ways of experiencing the brand while remaining faithful to its identity and values.

For more from the conference, watch the three-minute overview below.


Mike Kaufman is the SVP of the brand activation division at the ANA.

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