In looking at current business branding trends--and what might be around the corner in 2007--what strikes me most are not the tactics being used, but the mediums being called on to disseminate the messages. While you can't ignore branding basics, you can no longer rely on traditional outlets such as TV, radio and print to get the job done; they must take into consideration all the new media at their disposal, including blogs, podcasts, mobile phone-based programming, social networks and RSS feeds.
Moving forward, branding success will depend on adapting to the rapidly evolving media environment and taking advantage of new opportunities to reach your target audience. Ongoing research into appropriate delivery channels will be critical to ensuring that branding messages are communicated in ways that resonate with specific consistencies.
Using "hot" media to spread your message will be especially critical for brands seeking to establish themselves with younger or more tech-savvy audiences, as these people are often the first to navigate away from traditional delivery methods. While this means it may be more difficult to determine the appropriate media in which to invest your branding dollars, it also offers a unique opportunity to more closely target your marketing efforts based on consumer tastes and interests.
Blogs are a great example of communication that's typically focused on specific subject matter and/or directed to a well-defined constituency. By identifying blogs that are attractive to your target market, you have the chance to personalize your branding efforts like never before. Accurate research, combined with the ability to react quickly to new opportunities, will separate savvy branding campaigns from those that continue to rely on outlets that are less compelling than they used to be.
But let's get back to those branding constants that will remain critical for establishing and maintaining brand awareness with your target audience. Regardless of the medium chosen for distribution, you must:
- Ensure your brand promise is clear. Be simple, be direct, and by all means, be consistent.
- Focus on creating a well-conceived brand name. Even the cleverest branding strategy will fall flat if the name you seek to brand is poorly conceived.
- Understand the competition. No one operates in a vacuum. While originality is important, it's critical to be aware of your competitors' branding strategies.
- Set branding goals. You can't very well determine your success if you don't have a benchmark against which to measure it. Know where you want to go and when you want to get there.
- Remain committed yet flexible. Branding success doesn't occur overnight; it takes commitment to maintain focus and build loyalty. But that doesn't mean strategy changes might not be necessary along the way, so be open to tweaking your approach as necessary.
What remains most critical in the branding arena is being consistent, especially as the variety of media options continues to expand. The last thing you want to do is send confusing or conflicting messages, and that can be all the more likely as you add variety to your media mix.
As we move closer to 2007, the elements of successful branding will not be all that different, but the proper use of evolving media channels will spell the difference between successful campaigns and those that fail to hit the mark.