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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Branding in a Competitive Marketplace

In an age of social networking, tight advertising budgets and changing user preferences it's critical for businesses and individuals to understand the evolution of media and consumer behavior. Today's chaotic information landscape inundates the average American with approximately 2,500 commercial messages per day. It's a common belief that consumers have become immune to advertising, an outcome due to the saturation of marketing messages in our daily lives. Many businesses try to fight this problem by placing more advertisements not specifically targeted to their audiences.

This information overload poses an obstacle for business owners, especially those working with small budgets and limited resources. Today, getting brands out into the world takes more than hiring an agency to design creative advertisements and placing them into a magazine. It takes hiring strategic minds who know how to position a brand, recognize the importance of an emotional connection with that brand, and understand consumer's changing behavior in today's web-based society.

So how does a company brand a product, business or service in an environment where consumers can consult with each other on and offline before making a choice?

1. Identify your target audience. Determine who you want to take notice of your brand.

2. Create a clear message of what you want to communicate to consumers, media, and investors.

3. Research your competition and your position within the marketplace. Establish the differentiating factors and then develop creative strategies with emotional connections that resonate with your audiences.

4. Use a variety of media to carry your message.

5. Realize that you aren't in control of your brand. You can secure alignment between your preferred brand image and your actual brand image through these tips, but your actual brand is determined by the public.

Whether you're an entrepreneur or a marketing director for a well-known brand - it's important to understand that brands are powerful sources of competitive advantage and are more important than ever in today's online communities. A savvy marketer knows how to capture the essence of emotion and reflect it back into marketing communications. Brands tell stories and human beings love stories. What's your story?

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