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Igniting Your Audience and Your Brand Our latest conference in the New York area highlights the challenges of modern branding.

By Ray Hennessey

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Brands are funny things. There are corporate brands. There are personal brands. Brand positioning. Brand velocity. There's even Russell Brand.

But, amid all the talk of what to do with our brands, we don't talk enough about a brand even is. It is a word that has gone through evolutions, from the time a rancher burned a cow's hindquarter to make his unique mark to now, when a brand is somehow wrongly conflated with messaging and product.

So what is a brand? Well, it's you. And it's your company. And it's your company's core products, core values, mission.

And, here's the scary part: There's only so much control you have over it.

That's right. You can spend hours working on your brand, but its resonance in the marketplace depends solely on how your audience -- customers, partners, employees -- perceive it. It is important. And, too often, it is squandered, tarnished, misused or misapplied. That's bad for business.

Brand is vital. That's why our latest Winning Strategies conference, later this week on Thursday in Teaneck, N.J., will focus on making the most of your brand.

For instance, while you might have wanted to sit with the cool kids at the cafe table in high school, you might benefit from being stuck in the corner with the mathletes when it comes to your brand. Erika Napoletano, always known for straight talk, tells us of the opportunity in unpopularity. Why? We're attracted to people (and businesses) with unique viewpoints and personalities. The unpopular people. The ones who aren't afraid to have an opinion, knowing full well that some people won't like it. But those who DO like it will come and sit a spell. And in the process, they'll open their hearts, minds, and in many cases, wallets, just to sit next to your brand of fire. That's the making of a powerful, unpopular brand -- and the core of her keynote.

Then, Erika will be joined by marketing experts Laura Fitton and Christopher Penn and myself for a lively discussion on igniting your audience and your brand.

Fun, informative stuff. Space is still available, so, if you're in the greater New York area, sign up here.

Ray Hennessey

Former Editorial Director at Entrepreneur Media

Ray Hennessey is the former editorial director of Entrepreneur.

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