Would you like to establish a brand that truly separates you from the competition and makes prospects want to pay more for your service or product? Are you feeling “fuzzy” on your company's position in the marketplace or how to best describe to prospects what you truly offer? Perhaps you simply hear a lot about "brand", but don't completely understand it and want to learn more about how authentic brand will (and it will) help your business to grow and thrive.

Get ultra clear about what your brand really means and your prospects will be ultra clear about what they can expect from your company.

Trends in brand for 2012

Value.  Visitors need a reason to buy, or pick up the phone and call your business. They must get the impression that your business is one that will add value to them.

Differentiation. Genuinely unique brands will flourish amidst the many generic, featureless brands out there. A brand can't just say it stands for something. The consumer will decide, making it more important than ever for a brand to have measures of authenticity that will aid in differentiation and consumer engagement.

Keeping up with consumer expectations. Consumers adopt the latest technologies and innovations at a ravishing pace. Smart marketers will identify and capitalize on unmet expectations. Those brands that understand where the expectations exist will be the brands that outshine the competition and prosper.

Brands need to mean something. Hollow brands just don't cut it any more. Think "we're in this with you" ads from financial institutions who've been wreaking havoc with the economy in general and our personal finances in particular. What does your brand stand for? Will consumers believe it?

Buzz and engagement are always 'in'. Conversation and community are good things - especially when they provide visitors with add-value information about your company. Consider the "ratings" system you can use to evaluate a business when doing a local search. What others are saying about you is very, very important, folks. Pay close attention to it and nurture to our advantage.

More companies will become members of some form of social media. The best place to start is the most professional and business-oriented LinkedIn. The others (you know who they are) are still evolving and businesses are still 'workin it' to make those meaningful to their brand, and to their visitors.