By now, you're probably aware of the concept of branding. A company goes out of its way to ensure as many eyes will take a gander at their advertisment - over and over and over again. By doing this, they create brand awareness in hopes that when confronted with anything to do with their industry/field you will think of their company first.

Branding can be expensive, but as advertising prices are dropping, perhaps it is becoming a more likely goal for advertisors?

To keep with the subject of these boards - and to try and give an example - read the following words:

free service
web hosting

What ads/companies come to mind when you read those? All of those are - for many, if not most of the SitePoint visitors - from companies trying to establish their brand.

How effective do you think this brand awareness is, I mean say for a small/new business would it be better to try and:

-market for direct sales
-market for brand awareness
-try to balance both types of advertising

I think this is something that doesn't get talked about since we tend to take it for granted. Heck, if you've read the other forums I was even caught in this web myself as I openly wondered the effectiveness of banners on SitePoint that I not once clicked on - but could remember the company of.

What do you think?