Brand Activation Services: How to Find the Perfect Partner

Brand Activation Services: How to Find the Perfect Partner
by Eric Cup / June 26, 2023

Brand activations seem to be everywhere these days, and they are popular for a good reason. According to EventTrack, 91% of consumers indicated they’d be more likely to purchase a brand’s product or service after participating in an event activation or experience and 40% said they felt they became more loyal to the brand. Those are impressive numbers. And perhaps it isn’t surprising that in the aftermath of social distancing and Zoom, people are hungry for in-person, multi-sensory experiences. 

Still, understanding that brand activation is an effective tactic and pulling one off successfully are two different things. 

Enter brand activation services. Brand activation service companies help brands bring their concepts to life through strategy, planning, design, modeling, production, and installation. Some companies will hold your hand through the whole process. Others will just provide components of the process. Choosing the right partner, understandably, is the first crucial step.


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Brand Activation Services - How to Pick the Best Partner for Your Project

First, Ask Yourself These Questions

  • What are your goals? Are you striving to increase awareness? Reach a new target audience? Generate revenue? Build loyalty? It’s important to be clear about what you hope to achieve with the project at its inception, so your partner or team can keep these goals in mind as the concept is developed.

  • What kind of brand activation are you considering? Will this be a pop-up activation? A sampling campaign? A retail activation?  An immersive in-person experience? Will VR or AR be involved? It is helpful to have at least a broad concept of what you envision the experience to be. This will help your team consider the scope and technology requirements and allocate the budget appropriately.

  • What is your timeline? What is your budget? How involved do you want to be in the process? The more time you give a project, the more effective and cost-efficient it will be. Time is your budget’s best friend when it comes to brand activations. Having clear expectations, detailed cost constraints and an established timeline helps determine from day one how elaborate and involved a project can be.

Types of Brand Activation Service Companies

Experiential Marketing Agencies

Marketing-focused agencies offer expertise in creative concepts and sometimes also project management. They will be helpful in developing an on-brand look, feel, and message. As marketers, they will consider the customer journey and your goals as they create high-level strategy and design for the project.

Although they can often conceive and provide design direction for a brand activation, the actual fabrication, engineering, installation, and removal are typically outsourced to third parties. Unless they are super savvy at project management, this outsourced work can complicate oversight and execution and make completing the project on time and on budget a challenge.

Event Marketing Agencies

Event marketers excel at planning corporate events and understand how to create an on-site event under myriad constraints. They will have an established team of reliable partners to facilitate fabrication, production, and onsite coordination but may not have the skills to deliver a branded experience that’s strategically tailored to your value proposition or your campaign goals. 

Plus, the fact that many event marketers outsource elements of production, installation, and removal can create difficulties if those partners aren’t reliable or aren’t managed well by the firm. And, outsourcing any element usually adds cost, because the agency has to pay a vendor, and themselves for overseeing the vendor, which eats into your budget – sometimes substantially.

Full-Service Strategy, Design & Production Companies 

These turnkey organizations offer strategy, concepts, design, and production all under one roof. Rather than worrying about multiple vendors or contractors pulling their weight, one company handles the entire process from conception to completion – including removal and transport. 

With this approach, you have one point of contact, a single budget, and a single timeline. All decision-making and communications are with the same team, which reduces concerns about misunderstandings or miscommunications. Because there are fewer partners involved, it’s easier for a brand to keep track of where its project is in the pipeline, and to feel assured that it’s getting the attention it deserves. 

I know what you’re thinking – this type of brand activation service must cost a lot more. Not true. When the entire project is managed under one roof, with one team, lots of scales of efficiency can happen. There’s greater collaboration, communication, and resource sharing. Nothing is outsourced and so no additional oversight or expenses from third parties can throw a wrench into the budget or timeline.

So what is the downside? Well, maybe your company can’t say it hired a prestigious agency for the job. But look at all the headaches that were spared.

Choosing the Best Fit for Your Brand Activation

So, how do you decide which approach is right for you? 

  • Look back at your answers to the key questions
  • Weigh the pros and cons of each kind of service provider
  • Check out company websites and portfolios
  • Ask for recommendations from other brands
  • Book meetings and ask questions

A good brand activation partner should be able to provide references, address questions, and give you clarity about their strengths and weaknesses. Find out how much of your project will be outsourced. Ask them how they control quality from 3rd party providers. Before committing, talk to other companies that have worked with them for similar experiential marketing campaigns. Find out what the experience was like. Your future self will thank you.

Choosing the right brand or event activation services partner can make or break your next project. Taking the time to ask yourself several questions about your goals, level of participation, timeframe, budget, and vision for the promotion is key, but so is understanding the differences between how different firms work and the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. 

At Bridgewater Studio, we’ve brought the whole process under our roof. From planning to production to tear down, you have one budget, one timeline, and one point of contact. Seamless. Stressless. To find out how we can take your next project to the next level, book your no-pressure introduction today.




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