Experiencing brand positioning in-person

Having worked in experiential marketing for Coca-Cola, as well as for Kia Motors America, I have firsthand exposure to some of the most intimate ways consumers interact with brands. Now being at Northbound as a brand strategist, I have a new perspective on my past experiential marketing work; specifically, it highlights how positioning radiates throughout a brand and carries across organizations and into customer experiences.

Volvo provides a wonderful example of a brand using experiential marketing to bring their positioning to life. Like automakers, BMW, Mercedes, and Audi, Volvo competes in the luxury car segment. These automakers essentially sell the same product: a well-built car, with strong performance, premium features, and beautiful styling. Volvo differentiates within the segment by positioning themselves as the brand that owns ‘safety.’ Their slogan ‘For Life,’ helps support ‘why’ behind their positioning around ‘safety.’ Last April, New York based agency We Believers rolled out an experiential marketing activation for Volvo featuring what they called ‘Survivor Sales Agents,’ where typical showroom style sales booths were staffed by people who had survived crashes in their Volvos. The agents humanized the idea of safety, and made it relatable and impactful in a way that a salesman or crash test rating simply couldn’t. The activation generated a 60% increase in booth impressions and 30% of those who stopped at the booth ended up doing a test drive; it also netted We Believers a Silver Lion at the 2017 Cannes Awards.

Similarly, Toys R Us has looked to a new positioning and experiential marketing activation to give them an edge among a difficult competitive landscape fueled by the prominence of online retailers such as Amazon. The new positioning is around the idea of ‘play,' which is grounded by research done by creative agency BBDO that suggests kids are lacking unstructured playtime necessary for adolescent development. This new positioning helps them to clearly differentiate from large online retailers like Amazon and Target. Located in their retail stores, Toys R Us is bringing this idea to life through their new ‘Play Labs’ where parents and children get to play with the newest toys, as well as get demonstrations and guidance from ‘Play Lab Coaches.’ Toys R Us hopes that these in-store experiences help to rekindle feelings between parents and children with the brand, leaving online retailers as an afterthought.

From retail stores, to tech conventions, to music festivals, experiential marketing activations are growing more extravagant as marketers increasingly see their value over traditional channels. Pop2Life, a NYC experiential brand agency, reports that 74% of event attendees say that they have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product, or service being promoted after the event. These activations and experiences can make lasting impressions and intimately connect consumers with brand, so it is strategically important that they truly embody a brand’s positioning.

If you are interested in chatting more about positioning and how to drive your brand through experiential marketing contact Cam at


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