The B-Word: Branding {Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge}

Posted 24 January, 2014 by Amanda / 45 Comments

The word brand and branding brings up a lot of fear, upset, and uncertainty. Let me tell you what *I* think about brands:

Your brand is your reputation

It’s what people say about you (or your blog) when you’re not around. It’s the look and feel of your blog. It’s PERSONALITY. It’s building expectations between you and your reader.

So yes, you have one. If you don’t want to call it “brand,” don’t. But what you call it doesn’t really change what it is or how it functions.

This challenge is more of a reflective one. I’ve broken down brands into different aspects, and each aspect has questions to answer about your brand/blog. You can comment on my blog with your answer or create a post with your answers and link up in the comment sections here.

If you have ANY questions, tweet them to me at @BookBender or email me through the contact page. I’m here for you.

And please remember: This challenge isn’t designed to determine whether you have a “good” or “bad” brand, or a “strong” or “weak” brand. There’s absolutely NO FAILING. It’s only to get you thinking about the image you’re projecting to the general public and help you improve if you want to.

Your name

The best name will be unique and descriptive. It should set you apart from other bloggers and make it easy to figure out what you do.

If your blog name doesn’t do it, a tagline will help. Even if you have a descriptive blog name, taglines add an extra dimension to your name. Here are a couple examples:

At On a Book Bender, our tagline is “where book addicts go to get their fix”

At The Path of Least Revision, my tagline is “fighting the frustration of writing and editing (so you don’t have to)”

Once you have a name, it should be everywhere: on your blog, with your comments on other blogs, on social media. Keeping your name consistent will build name recognition. If people recognize you, you’re doing well and building your brand.

Note: If you’re a personal brand (as an author or blogger) and you have a common name, you can add something to your name to make yourself stand out. My friend Stacey Harris has a common name, so she started using The Stacey Harris, which sets her apart from every other Stacey Harris out there.

Challenge: Answer #1. If you want to do more, proceed to #2 and #3. Comment with what you did.

1. How well does your blog name reflect what your blog is about?

2. Create a tagline.

3. Look at the name you use to leave comments. Change it to reflect your brand. For example, “Amanda @ On a Book Bender” is more recognizable than just “Amanda.”

Your appearance

Your profile picture, blog graphics, and colors go into your brand.

There’s no real formula to this, but here’s what you want to keep in mind:

People connect better with pictures of people. They want to know that who they’re talking to is another human. If you’re uncomfortable with sharing an actual picture of yourself, an avatar works just as well. I used my avatar for a couple years before switching to a real picture of me. (And then only because I wanted to separate myself from my blog brand.)

Consistency is key. If you have the same picture on every social network, it’s easy to recognize you. People look for pictures first, name second. (Don’t worry. Change is okay. Just make sure you inform people so they don’t lose you.)

Make it eye-pleasing. Whatever colors you choose, they shouldn’t hurt people’s eyes. You also want something that translates to social media. Twitter has a small profile picture in the feed… don’t make people squint or enlarge your picture to figure out what your profile picture is.

Challenge: Answer #1 and #2.

1. Do you have the same profile picture on all social networks (including your blog)? If no, consider updating your profile pictures so they match.

2. Is the picture of you or an avatar? If no to both, consider getting one.

Your personality (or “feel”)

What do we expect from you? My personal brand (@BookBender, @amshofner, and amandashofner.com) is known for being positive. My business, The Path of Least Revision, is known for being witty, having attitude, and supplying pretty awesome advice. Renae from Respiring Thoughts is known for her conversationally analytic reviews.

Challenge: Answer #1.

1. What do people expect from YOUR blog? (If you don’t know, write what you WANT to be known for.)

Self-promotion

Here’s the key to being successful at self-promoting: understanding that everyone is more concerned with themselves than you. Most people don’t care about what you’re doing because they’re too concerned about what they’re doing.

That means self-promoting is about giving people context and something that’ll make them say, “Yes, I need to see that.”

That’s not, “Here’s my latest post!” ten times a day. When you see those posts from other people, how often do YOU click through?

Really. Go look at what everyone else is tweeting. What makes you want to click through? What do you ignore? What is it about the tweet that makes you ignore it? (Then don’t do the same.)

Social media is about being social and engaging with people.

Challenge: Answer #1 and #2.

#1. Look at your Twitter timeline. What’s the ratio between interacting with people and self-promoting tweets? (Eyeball it.)

#2. Write a social media update about your latest post (or your latest FAVORITE post) that teases and gives people a reason to click through.

Ex. “Want to know five secrets to successfully marketing yourself? @BookBender’s spilling the beans.” (NOT: “Hey, I wrote about post about marketing! Come check it out!”)

Giveaway

Once you’ve completed this challenge, you can enter to win a copy of my ebook, Blog Events. (If you have Blog Events, you can opt to get The Blogger’s Mindset.) You’ll receive an ebook in .mobi or whatever Calibre can convert an ebook to. The challenge is open internationally. The giveaway is subject to the terms and conditions listed below.

Terms and Conditions

  • You must be at least 18 years old or older and a Bloggiesta participant
  • Your information is subject to the On a Book Bender privacy policy
  • Your entry will be verified; if the entry cannot be verified, it will be removed
  • Void where prohibited
  • The length of the giveaway is from 1/24/2014 12:00am to 1/27/2014 12:00am Central
  • Value of prize is $1.99
  • No purchase necessary to win
  • Winner will be contacted via email and has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen
  • Odds of winning depend on the number of entries
  • Additional terms and conditions may apply

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Filed under: Event,

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45 Responses to “The B-Word: Branding {Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge}”

  1. Yeah, I need to consider this. I haven’t spent much time thinking about it and, yeah, I probably need to, especially with the layout and design (I’ve been talking about a redesign for too long. I just need to do it!!).

  2. This is a great challenge. I think branding is so important, and yet I’ve realized (thanks to you) that there are a couple of things I’ve overlooked. In particular, I noticed that when I comment on different people’s blogs sometimes my avatar comes up and sometimes it is just a generic WordPress splotch. But for some reason I can’t seem to fix it. I will keep looking.

      • My picture has a rating? I actually think the problem has to do with the fact that i miss spelled my name when i signed in with google+ the first time, and i can never remember how i misspelled it. As a result i have more than one account.

        • If you use Gravatar (http://en.gravatar.com/), you tie a specific picture to your email address, meaning whenever you use your email address in a comment form, your picture will show up. Those have ratings, so if you set yours to PG and a site only allows G, yours won’t show up.

          But if you’re using Google+ to comment, I suppose having multiple accounts might be the issue.

  3. Branding is so important, I couldn’t agree more Amanda. Even when it’s a blog and not necessarily a business, you’re still a brand whether you’re aware of it or not. I’m pretty happy with the blog name, I think it’s unusual enough to be memorable but it also directly relates to me and the blog itself. I’m a lover of supernatural fiction, it’s the dominant genre on my blog, and I’m a fairly snarky person so it just fits for me. The snark isn’t always as present on the blog, but I’m glad about that. A little snark goes a long way I think.

    I do have to say though, I’m strongly considering changing the blog name to Supernatural Shark. It has such a nice ring to it ;-)

    • SUPERNATURAL SHARK! It really does have a nice ring.

      I think you’ve got great branding, Jenny. Your review writing style is pretty legendary and your snark comes across… but not in an overbearing or negative way (which a lot of snark does). You give good snark. (Makes me miss your cover critiques, actually.)

    • I guess I’m technically not answering the question. LOL So…. I changed Disqus to automatically write “Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf” as well, since a lot of blogs I visit use that (including my own). I think my blog’s name sums up what it’s about pretty well, since I’m an eclectic reader and “bookshelf” is general enough, ha! That being said, I find it hard to create a tagline when I review a little of everything. Maybe “a little of everything” should be the tagline? ;)

      I definitely keep things consistent across sites, whether url name or avatar. It annoys me if it’s different. Twitter I feel pretty good about, but I am definitely making more of an effort this year to make the blurb that comes along with my post links more inviting, more of a tease to get people to click through.

  4. I’m coming up on my first anniversary of blogging and I feel like I’ve started to get a handle on my brand, though it did take me a bit of time. I think the last thing that’s coming together for me is the “feel” of my blog, which I’ve really started to get an understanding of over the last few months and it’s given me a pretty big boost of confidence.

    • Yeah. I do think it takes a while to settle into your brand, especially if you’re not deliberate about it. My book blog took a year or two for me to get it all together. It took me less with my business blog, but that’s because I took a branding class and had already been blogging for a while.

  5. Hi Amanda! Great challenge, even just taking a step back and answering the questions focused my mind a lot. I’ve things I need to work on, using the same image on all social media sites seems so obvious but somehow I just never thought about it! Thanks for making me think and for the tips :)

    • Having the same images is so helpful for people! Because even if they’re not searching for you specifically, they may see you and go, “Hey, I know her!” Which is cool. :)

    • My avatar is a stock photo, so there’s no copyright involved. It did cost money (which is the downside), but I think there might be ways to create your own.

      I also use a selfie on Twitter and Goodreads for my photo. It’s got me with my giraffe ears on, which still uses my branding since people know me for the giraffe shifters.

  6. Great mini-challenge! Your questions to get us thinking about our branding are spot-on. To answer your challenges:
    1. While my blog name doesn’t obviously reflect what my blog is about, the tagline does complement it. I hadn’t thought about the name I use for commenting, so I’m going to fix that, starting with this comment.
    2. I have always had the same picture across all social media networks for anything professional-facing and it was updated within the last 3 months.
    3. From my business blog, I want people to get useful professional advice on a variety of topics. I should think about this more and refine it.
    4. I know I broadcast more than I interact, but what I broadcast is balanced between my own work and other things I read. A teaser tweet for a recent post is scheduled :)

    Thanks again for this mini-challenge!

    • Attaching your blog name with your comment is super helpful! :)

      Getting into the feel of the book is also like asking, “What’s about me that stands out from others?” I give editing and writing advice on my business blog, but I do it in a certain way, which is really what draws others to me. You can find editing and writing advice anywhere.

  7. This is such a great mini challenge! And it makes me feel a lot better about what I’ve been doing – I’m not too far off :)
    Challenge 1
    1. How well does your blog name reflect what your blog is about?
    I think it’s perfect for me – Fantasy is More Fun – my blog is all about the fun of reading and focuses pretty heavily on fantasy genres.
    2. Create a tagline.
    I don’t think I need one.
    3. Look at the name you use to leave comments.
    I always do Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun (My name is Kimberly, but I went with Berls to be distinctive)

    Challenge 2
    1. Do you have the same profile picture on all social networks (including your blog)? If no, consider updating your profile pictures so they match.
    Yes-ish. LOL I have a B (for Berls) in the same font as my blog header and my Berls signature with a witchy hat (like the girl on my header wears) on it. But for leaving comments, I actually have a picture of me – which is also on my about me page. Is that good?

    2. Is the picture of you or an avatar? If no to both, consider getting one.
    Kinda LOL *see above answer

    Challenge #3
    1. What do people expect from YOUR blog? (If you don’t know, write what you WANT to be known for.)
    Fun! It’s in the title and every one of my posts exudes my fun personality (that’s my goal at least)

    Challenge #4
    #1. Look at your Twitter timeline. What’s the ratio between interacting with people and self-promoting tweets? (Eyeball it.) This is where I need to do some work. It’s not self-promoting only, it’s a lot of Triberr though. I do try hard to interact with events I’m part of like #bloggiesta and #bookblogwalkers though

    #2. Write a social media update about your latest post (or your latest FAVORITE post) that teases and gives people a reason to click through.
    “Are Graphic Novels just books with pictures? Give your two cents on the latest Fun Questions by @BerlsS”

    • I think your profile pictures depend on how much you want to push your blog brand versus your own brand. Now that I have associate reviewers, I like to use my own photo as much as possible and let the blog become its own thing. If you’re your blog, the same photo everywhere is nice, if only for the ease of recognition.

      But really? Do what you want. ;)

    • What about the rest of the questions? Your brand is much, much more than your name and tagline. There’s also your appearance and the “feel.”

      • Oh, thanks for the reminder. Yes, I guess I read those and didn’t respond to them here. My blog “appearance” and “feel” are reflected in my blog header, my theme, and my presence. I have a Gravatar Profile in my sidebar that tells “about me,” and links to various social media, etc.

  8. Great mini-challenge (though, with its scope, it probably deserves to have the full “challenge” title)! I have felt pretty in control of my brand for a while, but your post made me realize that I have become rather complacent and that there are plenty of things for me to improve on.

    I like my blog name and my tag line (“a place for readers”). I have my Blogger account set to leave comments with my name and my blog name, but I don’t do that for my WordPress comments for whatever reason. Time to change that!

    For my Gravatar, I have been content to use a (unique) stock image that is neither my picture nor an avatar, but it may be time to move on from that. I have a picture of myself on my about page that might do the trick nicely.

    I am going to ponder on what it is that people expect from my blog and what I would like them to expect. And, finally, I am going to make a commitment to be more interesting with my self-promotion.

    Thanks for all of the prompts!

  9. So I am still thinking about some of these and have some more work to do. :) I am in the process of redoing some thing on my blog–a good time to be thinking about branding.

    I am working my way through it slowly but surely!! :) Thanks for the food for thought (and now I am going to break and get actual food because well my stomach is growling).

    • Oh! If you bought The Blogger’s Mindset, I actually go through branding/rebranding in one section—it should be more helpful than what I’ve got here, though the questions should guide you, too.

      Redoing is the perfect time to think about branding!

      • Yup, that is the one I bought tonight–it struck me as being good food for thought. I just went through more of a physical redesign the last month. I am about 80% there (I think). With doing it myself (and with my husband’s help), I am working it into my schedule as time fits.

        I am working on other behind the scenes things too that will take longer to roll out but I figure that is okay. :)

  10. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m thinking of changing my name to reflect my blog better. Of course, I’m going to change the look, as well (goodbye, blood!).

    I originally went with My ParaHangover b/c it meant something to me; I was reading so much paranormal that I was hungover from all the books and worlds I was devouring. But now that I’ve been shoved into the YA, NA, and, (UGH!) contemp romance in general, my name and look doesn’t fit. What was a unique and quirky name that stood out (hopefully) doesn’t reflect what I’m reading.

    I’m keeping my “girl” if I can, though. She’s my avatar and I use her in Gravatar, Google-verse, just about everywhere, and I use my human pic for Twitter. I do have a personal pic or two in About Me on my blog so if someone wanted to see what I looked like, they could go there.

    I only know what I WANT to be known for and besides being the flakiest poster, I actually would like to be know for my conversational, somewhat humorous, reviews. It’s a stretch but I can dream.

    Self-promotion… hmmm…. well, I was getting self-conscious about all the Triberr tweets I was sending so I quit my tribe. I’m toying with asking back into the tribe but I’m still thinking about it. Other than that, I DO change my post tweets to sound interesting, if only quirky. I do need to work on my self-promotion AFTER I fix up the blog, though!!!

    Sorry I took all this space on your blog! I just didn’t feel comfortable talking about all this in a post on my blog. Yeah, anybody could see it here but they’d be friends :D

    Thanks for hosting this challenge – you’ve always been a huge help and it really is appreciated!!!! I still think of you every time I fix a grammar error at work! I just don’t get around the blogs like I used to (I’m homeschooling the grommet now).

    • The problem with Triberr is that they’re blatantly promotional in nature and 99% of the tweets don’t provide context or enticement to click through and read. I actually have all Triberr tweets filtered out of my TweetDeck because they clog up my timeline and every time I’ve clicked through on one, I’ve been disappointed by the quality of content. Triberr misses the engagement mark on Twitter because it’s basically all automated. Personally, I’d be more likely to click through someone tweeting “Great post by X” than a Triberr tweet because I know the person liked the post enough to go through the effort to tweet about it… and add their own personal comment.

      You’ll have to keep me updated on your name change. Email me if you want someone to bounce ideas off! ;)

  11. This article is fantastic, way to go! There’s so much good info!

    I do think my name reflects me to a ‘t’ :) I’ve zipped around to make sure my profile pics are the same across all of my sites. (I recently changed it)

    It took me a while to feel comfortable in my blogging skin but I think I have a pretty good handle on my brand and I *think* I know what my readers expect from me…most of the time ;)

    This has given me a lot of food for thought, Amanda. Thanks so much!

    • Your name rocks!

      Come to think of it, I could probably work on updating my own profile pictures now that I’ve shifted to using an actual picture of myself. *wanders off*

  12. Thanks for the great challenge! I never really considered my brand before, but looks like I did a few things right just by accident! I use the same avatar across the board, but think I’ll change my gravatar name from Alexia561 to Terri @ Alexia’s Books and Such, as it’s a little confusing to people who think my name is Alexia. *L*

    I think my blog name is okay, as I focus mainly on books, but also include other “stuff” every now & again. I don’t currently have a tag line, partly because I can’t think of a good one but mostly because I can’t get the stupid thing to line up correctly in my header!

    Not really sure about the feel of my blog. I hope that people stop by to discover new books and check out my reviews. I want to start doing discussion posts as I love the back and forth, but need to come up with some decent topics first.

    Have to admit that I’m not very good with self-promotion. Whenever I go on Twitter, it’s a giant timesuck and I get nothing else done. I have a Facebook page, but don’t spend much time on it. Going to try and figure Google+ out thanks to the bloggiesta chat last night with all the helpful hints!

    • Ah, yes! Every time I see Alexia, I think that’s your name. Knowing you’re Terri would be helpful!

      One of my business friends says to schedule your social media time. Keep lists of people you want to interact with, spend 15 minutes doing it, then leave. I’ve yet to implement this myself, but it’ll help you limit your time if you do.

      I’ll be doing a Google+ mini-challenge in March! ;)

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