branding tools

Branding on the Blog and Beyond the Blog

If you are a blogger who is confused about brands and branding you aren’t alone. And if you think “branding”  relates only to those who use their blogs to market products or services then think again.  In terms of your blog, your brand is how your target audience perceives you and your blog content.

Any content reblogged from one cool site must adhere to the terms of © Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

group of peopleThere’s so much published on branding that it can make your head spin so let’s simplify.  If you haven’t accomplished the basics and don’t have a clear vision of where you want your blog to be, then you won’t be able to plan how to get there.

On one hand, your brand is your promise to your target audience. On the other, it’s their level of trust in your ability to deliver what you promise, that,actually creates your brand and positions it in search engine results (SERPs).

In fact, everything on your blog contributes to branding. Your branding strategy incorporates both text and graphic elements to assist your target audience to identify your brand as the particular one that’s right for them. So don’t get carried away with thinking all you need is a logo, gravatar, custom banner, or customized theme and graphics. Your logo and any graphics like business cards, etc. represent your brand. They help communicate your message to your target audience visually, but they aren’t your brand.

Either by intention or by default, branding starts during the design and strategy stage of creating a new blog. That’s when the blogger selects a URL, site title and tagline that reflect the intended message for the intended target audience. Branding is reflected in the keywords and blog description of the site and published on the introductory About page and/or Profile page that’s easily located by search engines.

Your brand includes the style in which the information is presented  throughout your content. However, in the URL, site title, tagline and blog description it clarifies what new readers can expect to be presented with when they come to your site. Thereafter, branding shifts as you publish content and a reader community engages with it. Ultimately, the blogger and the reader community become co-creators of an ever evolving brand.

group of peopleTo develop a branding strategy you need to

  • identify your target audience
  • determine what they need and want
  • define what your your message is
  • determine how you will meet their needs.

In Branding 101: How to Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits advises:

Before you do anything — name your blog (or other product/service), write a single post, work on the design, anything — you need to figure out your core message. This is the message you want to send out to your readers/customers in everything you do. This message needs to be communicated in your title, design, content, promotions, and actions.

In What is a Brand? Part 1 – 5 Factors that Define a Brand Susan Gunelius says:

Rather than asking, “What is a brand?” a better question might be, “Who is a brand?” Every brand has a persona. Think of your brand as a person. What is that person like? What can you expect when you interact with that person? From appearance to personality and everything in between, your brand persona is one that consumers will evaluate and judge before they do business with you.

group of people10 Branding Tips

Whether your blog is brand new or not you will find links to valuable advice on the topics below in 9 Guides for Beginning Your New Blog.

1.   URL, Site Title and Tagline –  Your blog’s URL, Site Title do not have to be the same but it’s better SEO (search engine optimization) if they are consistent. Your blog’s URL, Site Title and Tagline ought to contain memorable keywords that define your new blog’s brand and make the URL easy to recall. 

2.   About page, Author bylines, and Blog Description – Make sure your About page contains a brief, authentic bio that’s optimized to communicate your brand. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your text. Make sure you clarify what sets you and your blog apart from bloggers with similar blogs in the same niche.

Use a theme that is designed to display an author byline on each article that’s linked to all other posts published on the same site. Google Authorship gives you the ability to tell Google that you are the author of the content. Connecting  your Google+ Profile to your WordPress.com blog creates an official connection between your content and your Google+ account.

Know that if you don’t provide a search description for your blog, search engines will establish one for you based on your blog’s content. Clarify what your purpose is and communicate it in blog description that your target audience can relate to and rely on.

3.   Visual Branding –  Visual branding is important as images convey concepts and meaning quickly and become unique identifiers your audience will recall. Simplicity and consistency are key when for visual branding that’s memorable. When using a WordPress.com theme good SEO is a given, however, going beyond the theme what the blogger has done within that structure impacts branding either positively or negatively.

4.   Content  and Commenting –  Write for your readers.  Reader involvement through surveys, polls and/or, brainstorming help you identify their needs. Publish  unique, high quality content frequently and respond to your commenters promptly.  Your responses in discussions will also determine how much reliance your audience will place in your and your message.

5.   Search Engine Optimization – Successful blogs draw between 30 – 60 % of their incoming targeted readers from search engine referrals. Don’t listen to myth makers who say SEO plugins are required. Listen to what Staff have to say in All About SEO on WordPress.com and in SEO and Your Blog.  In 6 Ways to Make Google Your Blog’s Best Friend learn how Google discovers, crawls, indexes your site’s pages, and how Google displays them in search results, and discover the basic elements that make your blog  attractive to search engines.

6.  Social NetworkingUse social media opportunities to build relationships directly with your target audience. Some claim social networking is more effective than vibrant discussion on your blog post is but I disagree. Don’t neglect commenting on similar sites, as it is one of the best ways to build your brand’s presence online. Rise above the increasing pressure to conform by being logged in continually.  Develop an effective social networking strategy and timeline and stick to it. And, never place a higher value on a  a “tweet” a “like” or a “share” than you do on a blog post comment.

7.  Tagging – Don’t get sucked into spamdexing (tag spamming) thinking it will help position your blog in search engine results because doing that guarantees it will not be well positioned. The rule of thumb is to assign the least, not the most, combined number of only relevant categories and tags that accurately describe the post content. Know Categories and/or Tags which are treated the same way be search engines are not required for SEO purposes. Search engines pay more attention to your keywords in your content than they do to keywords in Tags/Categories you assign to posts.

8.   Writing for the WebBlogging is not the same as writing for the print media or literary writing.  10 Guidelines for Writing Engaging Posts will help you improve your writing for the web. Scheduling enough time for creating original content, promoting it, answering comments, reading and leaving comments on other blogs is not an easy feat but time management is essential to becoming a successful blogger.

9.   Testimonials – Branding is all about building a compelling reputation so don’t hesitate to secure and publish testimonials. A few words from those singing your praises can go a long way to assure your audience that you are who you purport to be and you deliver on your promises.

10.   Reputation Monitoring –  Monitor your online reputation so you are clear on how your brand is being perceived in social media sites and across the internet. deal with all copyright violations and instances of plagiarism promptly.

When full copies of your content appear anywhere other than on the site it was originally published on

  • your brand has been diluted;
  • your traffic has been siphoned away from your site;
  • backlinks from the duplicate lack value as they are usually from sites that either have no pagerank or a low pagerank and sadly your article is now associated with those sites or even with banned sites;
  • too many backlinks from low quality sites can compromise your blog’s positioning in the SERPs;
  • the duplicate content can outrank the original content in the SERPs (search engine page results). – Scraping Off the Blog Scrapers

Over the long term successful blog branding requires passion, purpose, productivity, people skills, planning, persistence, as well as becoming a willing student, because the learning never ends.

 

red star iconBlogging 201: Branding, Growth, and Traffic (14 day blogging challenge starts April 15th!)

Branding, Growth, and Traffic assumes a few things about your blog: you know what you want your blog to be, you’ve got a handle on publishing basics, and you’re ready to take your site to the masses.  … We’ll help you focus your brand and explore different ways to boost your internet infamy.

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52 thoughts on “Branding on the Blog and Beyond the Blog

  1. Is there a post here that is like a Zero-to-Hero guide, Your simple way of giving info to People is amazing :)

      1. I wish I could join these challenges but, they need the blog to be working … May be the next time … Thanks ;)

      1. Thank you! for now though i had to rechange theme because the theme illustrar crashes to much on various mobile devices and laptops.and yes i asked the forum to look at it. can you check as well?

  2. “passion, purpose, productivity, people skills, planning, persistence ” …ok, the 6 “P”! :) I think if I analyzed my blog’s brand alot, I would be frozen into inaction and not write!

    I still haven’t even figured out my brand completely. Ah well, I know it’s something vague. And it isn’t pure cycling, that’s for sure.

    1. Hi Jean,
      Yes, those are my 6 P’s for becoming a successful blogger. :)

      It`s harder to figure out a branding strategy for a personal blog than for a blog in any other niche. :)

  3. As usual, great informative links. Branding is more interesting than SEO to me because I have little control over how people get to my blog (hint: never use the word lederhosen in a post) but I want them to “get” where they are when they land on my blog and my content can be confusing for someone who didn’t mean to be there. I’ve been toying with creating a short “sticky note” that would be a kind of mini “about page”.

    The people who are looking for my content (the lives of butch lesbians or people who are transgender) get it right away, and seem to click through with no problem. I do have complaints from people who have had trouble subscribing by email, but I think it is them not me.

    1. @Jamie Ray
      Your About page is ace. Your site tile and tagline are likewise right on the mark, except for that special character in it. I don’t recommend sticky posts unless they are very, very short ones. Your content in your posts contains relevant keywords and I wouldn’t chnage anything you are doing now. That said, I’m no expert and don’t purport to be one, so if you enter the 15 days Branding challenge you are bound to get some solid fine tuning tips from Staff.

      1. OK, ok, it took you two times to tell me, but this time I listened. The * is gone from Trans* and I spelled it out to Transgender.

        I’ll skip the sticky post and let the writing speak for itself. Thanks for the compliment on the about page. I always go to someone’s about page when I check out their blog and am always surprised by the number of people who show the default “about” text – this is an about page…

  4. Thank you for this time thief. And for visiting my blog! Can’t believe you read my little blog :0) I followed your advice regarding the copyright notification and it’s so funny you should mention testimonials. I have two lovely testimonials and was wondering whether to add them. I definitely need to look at my branding. I don’t like to put myself in a box in case I get the urge to write about something different, but I appreciate the reasons why branding is important. I love reading your posts. As well as providing a huge amount of information, your writing is so clear, concise and to the point. Are you really just one person?? :0)

    1. Yes I do read your little blog. :) But that`s only when I have the time to as I follow so many blogs. Also know that I although I rarely comment, I always promote posts I like via Twitter and if the post is outstanding then I promote it via Stumbleupon. :)

      I hear what you have to say about putting your blog in a box. I understand you don`t want your blogs to be pigeon-holed but the content in personal blogs is usually far ranging and learning basic SEO is definitely worth the effort.

      Thanks for letting me know what I publish has been and is relevant. I do appreciate your kind words about the advice I provide here. As I blog to informs I try to be clear and concise. Unfortunately, I do have a lot to say so some of my posts are over 1000 words in length and these days most bloggers are apparently skim reading. :( Yes, I just one person though some days I have so many changes of hats that my hair looks awful. lol :D

      1. Yes but I reckon those 1000+ words have a high lexical density. You use your words wisely and communicate so well. Do you have experience as an educator? Sorry if that’s too personal!

        1. Ummm … I don’t want to get too deeply into discussing my background but I have a been a paralegal and a librarian and I am a technical writer.

          1. Oh that’s fine of course. I’m just curious. I suppose I want to improve my writing. I like your writing and wanted to know how you got where you are. Thought about technical writing, but unfortunately i’m not very technical!
            Following your other blog and i’m loving it! :o)

    1. Yes you can reblog because have a personal relationship and you will respect my copyright and add meaningful commentary to the reblog, right?;)

      P.S. Reblogging is for the lazy blogger creating a unique post of your own on the same topic and backlinking to mine is the better way to go.

      1. I re-blog in my scrapbook blog, its a blog i made just for me really, i hate losing stuff that i really want to keep, so i don’t post on there, i dont follow anyone, i rarely comment on there, it is literally like an online scrapbook it has recipes, photos, poems, blogging help etc, you know when you think “oh i so don’t want to lose that on the blogosphere because I know I will want to read it again” and because i re blog alot of recipes, I cant blog them on my main blog or would end up messing up my blog big time hehe x

          1. Do notice that to reblog my posts you will have to do so from the Reader or from the link on your Admin bar when logged in. That’s because I do not choose to enable a reblog button on my posts and pages.

          2. Oh no. I have already been through that with Staff and the fact the Like buttons and Reblog buttons cannot be disabled in the Reader or on the Admin bar is intentional.

  5. I hadn’t thought about testimonials, I think i would be rather embarrassed. Does one ask the person first if it is alright to post what they said? I presume one must. I would have to get my head around that. I find the whole brand thing really confusing…It makes my head swirl.

    I have 3 blogs, one about an area so it is very niche in its target audience, hence low followers etc the other about my chronic pain, i don’t feel i can ‘brand’ that, that was a reluctant blog space, but i write it for me i guess, i am discovering things with this blog, ie poetry etc and my main one, eclectic which is humour, parenting etc a bit of photography so i guess its all over the place.

    I think I guess the main attraction is my personality coming through, that is what seems to keep a few bloggers there..I think..see I am not sure LOL.

    I have a question for you if you don’t mind, slightly related…I had what felt like a slight burn out, having 3 blogs is a nightmare when under separate emails/accounts etc, they are totally not linked, so I have to constantly log in and out for posts, for comments etc etc. I was thinking of either merging my pain blog with my eclectic, but nervous as to how my eclectic readers who see my funny side will find my more serious pain related blogs. Or I thought to make another blog under the eclectic umbrella and hope that my readers follow? What is your advice? PS Another post I would like to keep in my scrapbook please…I seem to be collecting yours hehe

    1. I face the same conundrum with my personal blog. I live with chronic pain and have done so since the age of 12 years. My disabilities are invisible and I choose to remain drug-free. Some days I`m mobility challenged and others I`m visually challenged. Most days I`m symptom free. If I reeled off a list of conditions and dis-eases that trigger flare-ups of symptoms I have to overcome, and then dwelled on the discomfort I experience, I`m sure my small group of followers and commenters would shrink instantly. And who would blame them for looking for another more uplifting blog to follow?

      In my personal blog I am focused on publishing about living a simple life consciously and being my own best friend. My categories are many and varied. I do share how I cope with and overcome challenges but I also share my artwork, exercise regime, meditation practice, container gardening, haiku and recipes, etc. I recently shared some flash fiction and may share more of the fiction I write there in the future.

      Sometimes I`m not well enough to be the head-space to create and publish positively focused posts, so I just wait it out. I`m not now nor will I ever be committed blogging every day as a discipline. I have contracted technical writing to do and I blog for pleasure so blogging daily as a discipline repulses me. I`m committed to blogging without obligation in http://thistimethisspace.com/ I publish content for my personal blog only when I think I have something of value to share.

      Sorry I was not able to provide an answer to your questions about juggling between 3 blogs. I`m doing the best I can to enjoy blogging under 2 username accounts and 2 blogs. Why don`t you register in the Branding 201 challenge and get advice from Staff?

      1. Ah yes I am definitely doing the 201 but will start late as going away this Sat for one week, i can chat/comment whilst away but not make posts, but might view my issues on there, but thank you as always xxx PS I know..head space, foggy brain and wot not :(

  6. Gosh, I hadn’t thought about testimonials either! In fact, branding is something I need to work on in a really big way! Thanks, as always, for the tips. This is one area where I need help–one among many, but a biggie, for sure! Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy,
      I think testimonials and any blog awards or writing awards are best placed on static Pages.

      It`s a beautiful day here and the weekend weather promises to be excellent. Hubby will be at a conference so I`ll be here with my pack of little canines keeping our business on track. I`m taking a few days off of contracted work until the 15th. Then I will have decided which projects to say yes to and which ones to take a pass on re: Too Many Choices and so little time.

      1. Hi again Chris,
        Oh really? Insert wicked laughter here because I`m not keen on reblogging, especially reblogging from the Reader. Staff know that so maybe my posts are off-limits for reblogging now … (just joking). Please report the issue on the support forums by creating a thread there http://en.forums.wordpress.com/?new=1

  7. Thank you for this. Currently doing the A to Z blogging challenge this month and just the sheer amount of people getting it all wrong is amazing to me. I don’t want to be one of them. I’ll be checking out the Blogging 201 page right away.

  8. Love this post as I have been struggling with branding lately. It has been at the forefront of my thoughts. I.MUST.BRAND! : ) I have been thinking about changing my blog title to fit in better with a more specific branding experience. I feel a bit too “wide & generic” right now. Not sure if changing my title this late in the game would create identity crisis or not, altho I think that my audience understands what they are getting when they search me out to read my blog.

    Thanks for posting these tips on Branding. It helps, somewhat, in sorting it all out.

    1. Hi there,
      Branding can make ones head spin but the bottom line is focusing on answering three questions: who are you as a blogger, what do you aim to deliver in this blog, and who is your target audience. If you are clear on those three then you have what you need to make branding decisions re: URL, site tile, tagline, blog description, SEO, etc.

      Staff will help all the bloggers who register in the Blogging 201: Branding, Growth, and Traffic (14 day blogging challenge starts April 15th!). The challenge is free of charge and you can work at your own pace.

  9. Thank you for guiding us through the process. I have learned a lot from the Forums where you generously assist bloggers. Kudos for a job well done!
    Blessings,
    belsbror

  10. Right from the early stage of blogging I was focussed on branding my blog. This post has really made my concept clear about branding. Thanks for this post.

    I would also like some advice from you on my blog about its branding.

    1. Hi Raza,
      I don`t do individual blog evaluations. I don`t have the time to do them. I am busy with my contracted work and in our business with my hubby. I also have a household and a large property to maintain. Lastly, note that the going rate any consultant is paid for evaluation of the simplest of sites starts at $250. US and moves upwards from there. You will be best served to register and participate in the Blogging 201: Branding, Growth, and Traffic (14 day blogging challenge starts April 15th!).

  11. As usual, a sterling, spot-on informative piece from you! Thank you. Interesting that I’ve never given testimonials much thought, thinking of those only pertaining to the business sector. Do you have an example of someone doing it on a personal writer’s blog?

    Anyhow, a while back, I was giving this whole topic a lot of thought and it inspired my usual tongue-in-cheek handling of the subject. On the chance your readers might like a laugh with my alter-ego personna – – “Brandy, The Bragging, Brooding, Borderline Blog Brander,” they can check this post out. But feel free to delete if it’s not something you find appropriate for this realm. http://thequotegal.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/how-to-blogvertise-and-create-a-blogan-a-slogan-for-your-blog/

    1. Hi there,
      The testimonials I have seen on personal blogs were on blogs in the personal development niche. The bloggers provide counseling, ebooks, video and audio and/or online courses.

      I think blog awards are also a type of testimonial.

      I enjoyed reading your cheeky post. Thanks for drawing my attention to it. :)

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