Today I’m launching a new weekly feature – DOS and DONT’S. First of all, please bear in mind that despite its indoctrinatory sounding words, the intention of this series of articles is not to teach you what to DO and NOT to do, but a mere sharing of my mental records of what I’ve encountered during my own learning process. Think of it as some kind of my personal aide-mémoire to design, blogging, marketing, programming, and whatever else Inspiration Bit decides to take me to.
We’re surrounded by brand names since the day we’re born: brand diapers, brand cereals, brand clothing, brand strollers, and the list goes on. In fact we get branded ourselves with the names that parents give us, but only a few of us turn those names into powerful brands (Martha Stewart, Seth Godin).
The mastermind and marketing genius for Nike and Starbucks, Scott Bedbury, once confessed that “A great brand raises the bar — it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, whether it’s the challenge to do your best in sports and fitness or the affirmation that the cup of coffee you’re drinking really matters”. If you read my look at some of the Most Brilliant Advertising Campaigns you will notice the similarities between them – they were all selling not the product but the image, the brand essence, the lifestyle.
How can branding be applied to blogging? The answer to that lies in response to another question: What are the driving forces of a flourishing Brand? Competitiveness, uniqueness, inventiveness, personality, emotions, packaging, ideology, design consistency. Carefully study all those shaping blocks of a great brand to get on the successful path of turning your blog into the one that’s recognized and remembered among the millions of other sites in the blogiverse.
Here are some DOS and DONT’S to jot down while wrapping the branding concepts around our heads.
DO create a brand personality by perfecting your About page. Talk as much or as little about yourself as you want but keep in mind that readers like to know who they deal with, it helps to establish one of the crucial elements of a successful brand — trust. If it’s a collaborative blog, then talk about its authors, if it’s a business site, do talk about the nature of the business and who’s behind it, if it’s a mysterious aura you’re after, don’t reveal some details – let the readers build myths whether you’re a male or a female, engaged or available.
DON’T forget to chose a unique image that will visually enhance your brand personality in the readers’ minds. Ralph Lauren never sold any horses, but what image comes to your mind when you think about this fashion mogul and his trendy empire? Take a look at the Instigator Blog’s new design – from now on, I’ll be always associating Ben Yoskovitz with those orange boxing gloves.
DO chose a consistent theme for your blog, define a focal point in all your blog’s topics. With Coco Channel it’s all about elegance and class, with iLT on the other hand it’s all about SEXy type, spread the LOVE of type & Rock’n'Roll your type knowledge. Everything and everyone on this site are soaked with type: the weekly features (Sunday Type, Type Faces), creative terminology (TypeNuts, Typestatique, Typelicious), site elements (exquisite typography, monthly fonts).
DON’T neglect the visual side of brand packaging: a unique logo, distinctive colour combination, noteworthy choice of type, meticulous attention to details. These are the essential tools in any packaging, why your website should be any different?
DO promote your brand’s awareness, expand that brand beyond your blog. Have you given some thought to how you present yourself and your site when commenting on other blogs, what to use as your avatar? Be aware of your own brand, recognize what is relevant and what does not to your image, become that brand before making others to take notice of it. Strengthen and build on your brand by taking it to the next step, other ventures. FreelanceSwitch stopped being only a blog for freelancers – there’s a JobBoard for freelancers, a forum, radio podcasts, there’s even a book for all the Rockstar freelancers out there.
DON’T fail to recognize the power of an identifiable name for your blog, get it right from the very beginning. Decide on your blogging goals: if it’s a personal brand you’re after, use your own name as the site’s domain; if you’re planning on running several blogs, or selling that blog sometime in future, or simply starting a new brand, then be creative and choose a name that is as memorable as it is unique. No matter how many other blogs Darren Rowse is authoring he will be forever associated with ProBlogger. His image hasn’t changed much since his minister days – he’s still making a living by preaching, but this time he’s preaching blogging to all us, mortals.
DO learn more about branding in general before building your own, learn from the pros, research the case studies of companies who managed to build a successful brand. There are many online resources for branding and Google can take you to most of them. But there is one book that I simply must recommend to everyone – it’s Naomi Klein‘s book NO LOGO. “There’s a bad mood rising against the corporate brands. No Logo is the warning on the label.” To wet your appetite here’s an excerpt from the book that you can read online.
DON’T destroy your brand by slowing down, or retreating to shade after a favourable outcome of all your hard work. Not only expect, be prepared for success, but don’t let it fool you either. It lasts as long as the taste of a magnificent wine and then all that’s left is a distant memory of how sweet it was. Ever wondered why such powerhouses as Coca Cola or Mercedes are still spending millions of dollars in promoting their brands? The answer is simple: competition and children. Every year hundreds of new companies, new products enter the war of Brands trying to brainwash us into choosing them over their competitors. People forget, and people rarely stay loyal to one brand forever. What’s more, millions of babies are getting born every year – they are the gold mine, the future buyers of that brand. Thousands of new readers flock to Web, you don’t want to miss a chance of having them to discover and subscribe to your blog, do you? Thousands of new blogs are created every day, stop turning your brand wheels and your readers will switch to another site that managed to take on where you have left.
It is your turn now to share with all of us your notes on DOS and DON’TS of Blog Branding. What are your thoughts on Branding? I’ll summarize all your feedback and add to this post, for a more complete reference on aide-mémoire to Brand.