The following is an excerpt from Melissa’s article in MEETING Magazine originally published in the May/June 2012 issue.

We’ve all been there before: Sitting in our car or flipping through the channels on the TV only to come across a catchy jingle or catch-phrase. And hours later, for whatever reason, that dang tune is still in our heads.

You know you’ve been there.

And as much as these jingles may be catchy (or annoying) in our minds, they are not the sticking points for brands today and neither is a flashy logo. Branding is about connections. It’s about promise. It’s about establishing a relationship with the customers around you.

Not just a logo

Your brand is more than a logo. It’s your personality. Your value. The human aspect you bring to your organization. And now, more than ever, it’s important to have a strong handle on what your brand represents—from your visual identity to your online conversations and in-person interactions.

A shift in focus

Trends in branding are not focused around what’s hot this year; they’re about what will sustain your organization for years to come. It’s a new way of thinking. Corporations that understand the need to create and provide value with their brand will stand the test of time. Consumers are looking for:

  • Real-time branding and conversations
  • Engagement and transparency
  • App-centered access

Your audience wants real-time engagement. This means you no longer determine when and where conversations happen about your brand. Additionally, your constituents will see right through marketing speak. What value do you provide? And if you’re living with your smart phone or tablet attached to your hip, you better believe your audience is as well. Brands need to make themselves accessible in as many formats as possible. “Do you have an app/mobile site?” will be a common question for event planners, organizers and brands in general.

Digital vs. Traditional

Fully integrated branding includes offline and online media. It’s important to realize that, even if your organization is not active on social networks, your consumers are. Your constituents are using their personal networks online to talk about you and the experiences they have with your organization—your brand. It’s your job to be in tune to this personalized content and conversations so you can offer the value and experiences that your audience is looking for and respond, in a human voice, when necessary.

Consumers are empowered by engagement. Determine what is most engaging—a printed brochure about your company or someone having real-time conversations online about your events and offerings. Choose your platforms carefully; be aware of where your customers spend their time and receive their information. Using outdated communication platforms will only frustrate your audience and prove ineffective for your business.

Be aware of the change around you. Your brand may look fine on paper, but are you talking the talk and walking the walk? Are your customers looking for ways to engage digitally and utilize technology to connect with you? And if so, are you taking notes and making it a point to engage with them in the spaces where they hang out? Be vigilant when it comes to awareness, your brand message and your customers needs.

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