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A beautifully designed brand identity may grab attention and a well thought-out digital marketing campaign may draw accolades, but brands that offer real-life experiences are the ones that outlive the rest.

Our personal qualities, our values, way of expressing ourselves, our image, all of these elements add up to determine our relationship with others. Similarly, what a consumer feels when interacting with a brand, is what creates the overall impression of that brand.

People rarely do anything they don’t feel something about, so creating emotional resonance is often the most important element of brand building. If you want people to connect and engage with your brand, the best way to do this is to bring your brand to life through an extraordinary brand activation.

Modern activations are an ingenious way to not only actively engage with your consumer but encourage them to be a part of your brand – to feel, taste, touch and experience all that your brand is. A cleverly designed activation can cut through the clutter and get your brand out there – to the people who matter. 

– Carla Reid, Account Manager, CWDi.

What is a brand activation?

A brand activation is any event or experience that brings a brand directly in touch with consumers. Today’s brand activations are multisensory and take place in the physical and digital world. These unique experiences stimulate interest, trial and loyalty, all of which build a genuine fan-base.  

Brand activations speak with consumers rather than to consumers. This two-way interaction between the brand and consumer generates a more authentic, personal experience, creating an emotional response to the brand.

This process usually begins online via content creation and social media and is then executed through a memorable event or experience, which audiences tend to share with others, on- and offline.

Experience has more impact than exposure

Activations involve engaging with consumers in a way that allows them to “feel” the brand, rather than simply being exposed to it.

Psychologist Paul Bloom’s TED Talk on origins of pleasure, delves into art, neuroscience, fine wine and human history to reveal how a positive or novel experience of any product can fundamentally change or influence what we believe about it.

When a product is first introduced to the market is it virtually unknown, but experiential activations can get people talking about it, and in today’s connection economy, talkability is the key to vigorous growth.

Sanlam Wealthsmith’s Quest  

Sanlam challenged CWDi to create an activation that tied together the true qualities of a Wealthsmith™ with facts about the Sanlam brand. The concept needed to appeal to students and graduates, encouraging them to apply for one of the Sanlam Graduate Programmes.

CWDi created an arcade-style game called “The Sanlam Wealthsmiths™ Quest” to provide students with a memorable interactive experience at career fairs. The game incorporated multiple choice questions about what it means to be a Wealthsmith™, teaching graduates and students about the Sanlam brand.

In collaboration with Brand Foundry, we designed, programmed and custom built the activation. Sanlam successfully engaged with students and graduates at each event with amazing results.

The building blocks of extraordinary brand activations

While activations can achieve outstanding results, campaigns that are not aligned to the overall brand strategy should be avoided. To complete a successful activation, a mix of the right elements is needed.


Activations are conceptually driven, so you need a strong one to ensure the campaign succeeds. A single great idea is at the core of an effective activation.


Coming up with an entirely unique activation will establish your brand as an innovative market-leader. Introducing unique elements to more traditional activations, such sample giveaways, can add a fresh spin to tried-and-tested tactics.


The concept shouldn’t just be strong, it should be well-suited to your overall brand persona. If your great idea is not true to the nature of your brand, you risk confusing consumers.


Ideas are one thing, implementation is another. In order for activations to be impactful, they have to be executed seamlessly and by a team that is experienced in the logistics involved in face-to-face marketing campaigns.

Your activations agency

All you’ve got, all your brand has got, all any of us will ever have, are the memories we’ve left with others.  The experiences your brand creates, are its defining moments.

When planning an activation, the CWDi team brainstorms unique concepts and compiles meticulous production schedules in order to deliver extraordinary direct marketing experiences, that create a lasting impression.