Today I completed my first marketing execution class at our local college. The topic: branding for non-profits. This is the first of four courses. It was good to hear that four people referred me as the instructor of choice. How's that for branding and word-of-mouth?

Because I designed this to be a student-drive course, I started off asking about their biggest marketing and PR challenges. Here's what we came up with:

- getting the message out on a limited budget

- raising awareness about an "invisible" population

- building advocacy

- delivering value

- promoting events and getting participation in advance

- recruiting volunteers and leaders

- conveying consistent messages

- how to generate viral marketing and buzz marketing across the generations

- how do you do marketing 101?

- changing public perception

- becoming a subject matter expert

We came up with these words to describe branding: identifiable, persuasive, targeted, recognizable, consistent, taglines, emotional appeal, relevant, trustworthy, credible, timely, influence, impact

In the personal branding exercise, I asked them to talk about their relationships to their target brands. Beverages, toothpaste and Tide made the top of the list. No one walked in with a Starbucks, but that's because most of them have a love/hate relationship with not only Starbucks, but Target, McDonalds and Wal-Mart.

We found these common attributes across their favorite brands: energy [all Diet Coke drinkers], quality, fair, tradition, loyalty, informative, responsive, immediate, convenient, accessible, all-inclusive, personalized, excitement, partnership, collaboration, opportunity, efficiency, organization, mobility, cool, renewable resource, low cost, hand-made, all natural, sustainable, healthy, comfortable fit.

What's your biggest branding challenge?