Activation Design First Principles

As a brand-side sponsorship and experiential marketing consultancy, we touch more than 120 tier one sports deals (major league teams, venues and leagues) across North America, and many more globally.

Over the last 22 years, we have developed a set of eight tested and proven Lumency First Principles that guide us when designing our client’s sponsorship brand activations.  The principles were created to support not only professional sports properties, but also arts, culture, cause and music properties.

A brand’s activation of its sponsored properties is the bridge between the value the sponsorship provides and the return-on-investment (ROI) the brand earns.  Our approach leverages our clients’ sponsorship investments, and the associated value of each investment, to drive stronger ROI.

Consumer first. Property out front. Brand aligned. 

The consumer’s relationship and connection with the property is what’s meaningful for them.  In most cases their connection to the property is likely to be stronger, especially from an emotional perspective, than their connection to your brand.  Your brand’s win is the ability to effectively leverage the associative benefits with the property to help build your brand’s affinity with the consumer.

Your sponsorship, and how you activate it, needs to be aligned with your brand strategy.  Even if your objectives for the sponsorship primarily support a commercial strategy, the sponsorship and your activation still need to fit with what your brand is trying to achieve from a positioning and communications perspective.

Enhance the fan experience, don’t interrupt it.

Your brand will gain attribution in the consumer’s heart and mind by making the fan experience better.  Interrupting the fan experience is as likely to erode your brand equity as it is to make your brand invisible to the fan.  Respect the fan mindset.  If the fan is in a relaxation and bonding mindset when interacting with the property, unless you’re endemic don’t try selling.  Your activation will drive greater results when you make the fan experience better, more memorable, and more shareable.

Be of service to the fan.  Address pain points.

Mapping and understanding the fan journey, including being aware of the hassle map that is part of the fan experience, can uncover areas where your activation will add real value and be recognized.  As with the First Principle of ‘Enhance the fan experience’, making consumer engagement with the property better (easier, more enjoyable) will bring your brand greater attribution.

Provide a compelling opportunity for the consumer to make your brand part of their story.

Don’t force/beg/leverage/bribe/cajole the fan into becoming part of the brand’s story.  A consumer’s own stories are more meaningful to them than your brand’s stories can ever be.  Find ways to make your brand part of their story.

Your brand having a meaningful and authentic space in consumer’s story around the fan experience will make your brand more memorable, more resonant and more talked about.

Be a super-fan, demonstrating that your brand believes what the fans believe.

There is a tribalism about fandom that runs particularly hot among the most avid fans of a property.  If your activation plan puts your brand at the center of that heat in a way that is authentic and respectful to the sanctity of the space, you will show that your brand is a true member of the fan community.

Be visible in demonstrating your brand’s belief in the property, and what it means to be a fan.  Find ways to celebrate the fan and recognize their commitment to the property.

Build/own relevant and attractive/magnetic content

The opportunity audience is the content audience, not the live audience. Your brand won’t win if it doesn’t think ‘outside the building/event’.

When producing content, ground to the First Principles of ‘Consumer first’, ‘Enhance the fan experience’ and ‘Be a super-fan’.

Create ownable ‘space’

Build physical, social, digital, and/or mindshare space that other property sponsors can’t access.

Within the confines of a sponsorship property, your competitor is no longer just your category competitor, you are competing against other property sponsors as well.  The share of voice around a property is finite.  To win the share of voice game, you need to outvoice the other sponsors.

Whether it’s within the digital or the physical space around the property, ownable space can help your brand find opportunities to garner more share of voice.

Going ‘wide’ with your activation – trying to have your brand touch many property-to-fan touchpoints – can require you to buy more and activate more sponsorship assets (increased complexity and cost), while reducing the opportunity to be impactful.  Going ‘narrow’ with your activation – focusing on ownable spaces – can be both more impactful, and more efficient.

Build and deliver omnichannel 360° (210°/140°) activation plans

Leverage your sponsorships across multiple consumer/stakeholder touchpoints – trade, social, digital, mass, retail, CSR, employees, live events, corporate communications, CRM, regulators.

Sponsorships make other forms of marketing communications work harder (i.e., brand OOH creative with property marks gets more recognized, video content with property inclusion gets more views).

Not all sponsorships warrant consideration within all your communications touchpoints, but a process for considering how to optimize across as many touchpoints as possible will help ensure you’re always looking to sweat your sponsorship investments.


Activation Design First Principles