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Brand Activator/ Branding & Communications

'Activating' Brands In A Hyperactive World


by Tom Stein
Chief Executive Officer
Stein IAS (Americas)

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Brand Activation.

Certainly, this inaugural Brand Activators blog post isn’t the first place you’ve come across the term. But, for many reasons, I believe it’s a term whose time has come.

That’s because Brand Activation has, by necessity, become more than a turn of phrase. It is a process and methodology, driven by a set of tenets that are core to business outcomes.

To help me make my point, please join me in a seemingly easy exercise: Name the BtoB brands you consider “activated”–in other words, brands that are “firing on all cylinders.”

Some characteristics to consider:

I believe activated brands as a rule have tight and extremely bright leadership teams in lockstep alignment. They have top-down and bottom-up organizational connectivity. They’re driven by a relentless interest in insights from their customers, prospects, and people. They start and participate in important conversations.

Perhaps most important, they put purpose front and center. (As John Kay states in his excellent book, Obliquity, when George Merck made “medicine for the people…not for profits,” Merck was comfortably profitable. But when a subsequent CEO pledged that Merck would be “totally focused on growth,” it ended up with the Vioxx disaster.)

And, yes, these “best of” brands use marketing as a primary agent of activation across the brand-demand continuum.

My thesis is that we do business in a hyperactive world. Marketing, in turn, must be just as active for a brand to be truly “activated.”

In the Oct. 4 issue of BtoB Magazine, we published several articles about Brand Activation that provide more detail and perspective about this. In the weeks to come, the Brand Activator blog will engage in a lively conversation on related topics:

  • What do you think the tenets of Brand Activation are?
  • What are best practices and innovations on the path to achieving this goal?
  • How can marketing organizations get there, with the full support of C-suite counterparts?
  • What is the true impact on a business for making the effort–and doing so successfully?

Not long ago, I conducted some social research, asking marketers which brands they considered “activated.” The results were very surprising. I’ll discuss them in my next post.

In the meantime, I’d like to see what you think. So go ahead and name some names: Which BtoB brands do you consider “activated”?

About Tom Stein

The authors of the Brand Activator blog are from Stein IAS (Americas), New York, BtoB Magazine 2013 Agency of the Year.