Mountain Dew (soft drink), Roxy (surf culture fashion), Volcom (skateboarding), and Boost Mobile (cell phones) are examples of powerful, emotionally driven youth-oriented brands.

The success of all of these companies is attributed to the weight that their brands carry in the marketplace and their ability to motivate purchase intent.

Each of these brands has a magnetic pull that connects on an emotional level with their target audience of Generation Y (the segment with birth dates between 1979 and 1994, according to demographers). This is an extremely marketing-savvy group that understands how numerous companies actively covet their business.

As a result, Gen Y-ers greet new brands with intense skepticism, making it increasingly imperative for Gen-Y businesses to focus on brand strategy.

In "Connecting With College Students" I discussed the importance of diving deep down into the specific culture of college students and tailoring marketing efforts to reflect the understanding you gain. Here, it's time to focus on an effective brand-building strategy for businesses targeting the entire lucrative youth market.

Connecting on an Emotional Level

Strong brands guide, influence and simplify consumers' purchasing decisions. Those brands are rewarded with high degrees of customer loyalty and premium prices.

Most importantly, for marketers targeting this hard-to-reach Gen-Y market, strong brands create brand endorsers, who recommend brands to friends and create the necessary buzz that drives sales and increases market share.

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Robert F. Hogeboom is principal and owner of BBP Marketing Group. Reach him at