Pepsi is a brand, Madonna is a brand, even President Obama is a brand.
Beautifully Invisible gave me inspiration for this topic. Observing and participating in conversations in a community group confirmed the need to touch briefly on this topic. Many new bloggers struggle with this as they navigate their way around developing their content, voice, image, style and character.
What does branding have to do with blogging? Everything. Marty Neumeier defines a brand as “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s a gut feeling because we’re all emotional, intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational.” I will take it a step further and add “person” along with “product, service, or company.” We believe that the brands we love are unique, being true to what they stand for makes them appear so. We connect to those brands emotionally and feel a sense of pride for having that connection. You are your brand, therefore, your blog is your brand regardless of whether you are style or tech blogger.
It’s important to have a sense of who you are, what you are providing and why anyone would care. The goal is to express something that solicits a reaction or response, you’re looking to engage your audience and develop a connection. A blog can be beautiful but uninteresting, if your content is not king no one will keep coming back. When I say content is king, I don’t mean to imply that every post must be brilliant. I only mean this: You are writing your content. Emphasis on “you.” People come back because they connected with it. You don’t need to blow their minds but you do need to present yourself and your content in a compelling and genuine manner.
So how do we figure out all this out? Make a list of what makes you “you”. Now make a list of how others see you, how they would describe you. People’s impressions of you make up part of what defines you. The two lists should have a lot of in common. Do you see the correlation? Too much disparity and you’ve got a perception problem. Blogs are personal by nature, in most cases your blog is an extension of yourself and not a completely different persona. Your top attributes should be reflected in how you present yourself leading to how others perceive you. We want confirmation that supports why we love a brand. Apple is innovative. Nike is encouraging us to get out there and just do it. They might pleasantly surprise and delight us at times but they don’t send mixed signals. We love them for who they are.
No one is going to assume you lack dimensionality or creativity for being focused, they will be pleased that they got what they came for. Who is your target, who is it your speaking to? What are they looking for? Why would they come back for more? Understanding your demographic is key to giving them what they want. You’re looking to bridge the gap between what you offer and what your target wants. Is she a mother with kids who’s looking to connect and share ideas with other mothers, or is she a woman who also happens to be a mother with kids? The differences may be subtle but making the distinction is very important in how you choose to speak to one or the other.
You are the primary authority of your brand, express it through your blog with conviction. Know your audience, be focused, remain true to yourself. In the words of Stella Adler, “don’t act, behave.”
I give credit to Primo Angeli for being such a leader and influence on me. Understanding the relationships we have with brands and each other, how those perceptions trigger emotional responses, has given me so much valuable insight. The three years I worked at his design firm were pivotal to my ongoing personal and professional development. Marty Neumeier is author of The Brand Gap.
Photo: Jose Rodriguez
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Deets: Mustard dress/ModCloth, slate shawl collar cardigan/You Be Cheeky, black leggings/Hue, vegan faux grey cowboy boots/ModCloth, silver and mother of pearl necklace/Lois Hill, hand-carved wood earrings/Chicago.