Before examining how this onslaught of media options have changed the branding landscape, it's important to remember the branding constants that will remain critical for companies wishing to establish and maintain brand awareness with their target audience. Regardless of the medium chosen for distribution, marketers must:
• Ensure the 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 does not occur overnight; it takes commitment to maintain focus and build loyalty. That doesn't mean strategy changes might not be necessary along the way, so you should 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 as a marketing professional is send out confusing or conflicting messages, and that can be all the more likely as you add variety to your media mix.
The Future is Now
Branding success moving forward will depend on adhering to the standards noted above while adapting to the rapidly evolving media environment and taking advantage of new opportunities to reach target audiences. 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 will be especially critical for brands seeking to establish themselves with younger audiences, as they are often the first to navigate from traditional delivery methods. While this creates the challenge of determining the appropriate mediums in which to invest branding dollars, it also offers a unique opportunity to more closely target marketing efforts based on consumer tastes and interests.
Blogs are a great example of communication that is typically focused on specific subject matter and/or directed to a well-defined constituency. By identifying blogs that are attractive to specific target audiences, marketers have the chance to personalize their 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.
As we move closer to 2007, the elements of successful branding will not appreciably be altered...but the proper use of evolving media channels will spell the difference between successful campaigns and those that fail to hit the mark.