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How to Shape Your Blogs Brand

Posted By Darren Rowse 4th of March 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

In this post we continue to look at tips for established blogs wanting to step up to the next level (this is the 6th tip in this series) by taking a look at how to shape the brand your blog.


One of the things that I’ve noticed happen once a blog begins to grow in readership is that a ‘brand’ emerges. This builds from the day you first start a blog and people see it – however it is in this phase after launch that it really becomes established.

Two Observations about Branding a Blog

By no means do I see myself as a branding expert (I’d love to hear from some of our marketing gurus in comments below) but I do observe two things about a blogs brand:

1. A Brand will Emerge Whether you Want it to or Not.

One of the best definitions of a ‘brand’ that I’ve read is that it is ‘what people say about you when you’re not in the room’ (I’m not sure where I heard this one – if you know who came up with it please let me know). Your blogs brand is the way that it is perceived and described by others.

As a result a brand emerges over time without or without you as people begin to develop perceptions about you and what your blog stands for. As they read your content, as they look at your design, as they interpret what you say, as they gauge your passion, as they observe how you interact with them and other readers – all of this contributes to how they perceive and describe you – your brand.

2. You can Shape Your Brand.

While point #1 above might sound a little fatalistic – don’t lose hope. People will form their own ideas about who you are and what your blog stands for – but you do have some ability to help them come to these conclusions and to shape that brand. It might not be as much control as some would like – but as a blogger if you give some thought to what you want people to perceive your blog as being you can have some influence in this.

How do you Shape Your Blogs Brand?

Again – I’d love to hear some of your experiences on this as I’m still learning – but here are a few thoughts on shaping brands:

1. Identify what You want to be Known For

When I was in my early 20’s I spent a few days at a personal development course and we were given the task of writing our own obituary as we’d like it to read. We were told to to write it for ourselves as 90 year olds who had lived the kind of lives that we wanted to live. The obituary was to say what we wanted others to see us at the end of our lives.

The task was quite illuminating as it forced us to think about the type of things that we wanted to become known for. I realized (as did many of those with me on that course) that I had no idea what I wanted to be known for. I had little idea as to the type of person I wanted to become and as a result was treading water and not really moving towards anything with my life.

The same thing can probably be said about many bloggers who have little idea of where their blog is headed or what they want it to be known for.

So – what do you want people to say about your blog? Write a list of 5 things that you want it to be known for. Once you’d done that – you’re a step closer to having shaped your blogs brand.

2. Be what you want to be known for…… Consistently

The next step is ‘logical’ but at the same time incredibly difficult to achieve. Knowing what you want your brand to be is one thing but getting your blog to get there is another matter.

I asked one blogger ‘what do you want to be known for’ recently and she answered that she wanted to be known as the #1 authority for her topic in her niche. I then asked her to look at her last 10 posts and tell me if she deserved to be known as that. Her last 10 posts were largely her linking to news in her niche or to what other bloggers were writing with very little of her own opinion or ideas.

The reality was that she was displaying very little authority and in fact was probably helping other bloggers to be authoritative by always linking to the great things that they were saying rather than saying anything of value herself.

It was a hard thing for the blogger to realize (and a hard one for me to communicate for that matter) but once she realized what she was doing she completely changed her strategy and instead of posting 10 ‘newsy’/’link’ posts per week – she switched to writing 2 original, opinion and teaching pieces that were much more aligned with the type of brand she wanted to project.

Once you’ve identified the brand you want to project the rubber has to hit the road and you need to begin to work on how to do that at every chance you can including with your:

  • Content
  • Design
  • Logo (update: read about creating logos at this post on the inquisitr)
  • Blog Title and Tagline
  • Interaction with other Bloggers
  • Interaction with readers
  • Business cards
  • Social Media interactions…. etc

Really every time you do anything on your blog (or on anywhere publicly online or offline) attempt to keep the brand that you’re attempting to grow in mind. Every post you write, every email you respond to, every comment you leave, every tweet you make – all of these things either have the potential to to build and shape your brand or conversely to hurt it.

3. Monitor and Participate in Conversations about You

Remember our definition of branding above – it’s what other people are saying about you when you’re not in the room.

So what are other people saying about your blog when you’re not in the room?

We live in an age where we have some amazing tools at our fingertips to tap into some of the conversations and observations that people have about us. While sometimes it’s not easy to hear some of what people think about us – each time we stumble upon one of these conversations it is an opportunity to:

  1. learn how we’re perceived
  2. build a relationship with someone and influence their perceptions
  3. do damage control by correcting errors and giving two sides of the story
  4. grow and improve how we do things

A few tools that are useful in monitoring what others are saying about you include:

  • Google News and Blog Alerts – just type in a keyword (your name or your blogs name) and you’ll be alerted any time a news source or blog uses those terms
  • Technorati Watch Lists – the same principle as Google News Alerts
  • Monitter – same principle on Twitter (there are numerous tools that will do this)

There are many other monitoring tools – feel free to recommend those that you use and recommend in comments below.

The key with this process of monitoring what others are saying about you is to enter into it with a genuine desire to listen and connect. It is very easy to rush into conversations about you with guns blazing to ‘defend’ your brand and ‘fix’ peoples erroneous views about you – however this kind of attitude can actually do your brand more harm than good.

Listen, reflect and take on board what people are saying before you respond and you’ll not only gain the respect of others but hopefully learn a thing or two about yourself and your blog that will help you improve it.

Lastly – don’t get sucked into letting what others say about you determine how you view you. I love the quote of Elizabeth Taylor who when asked whether she reads what the press says about her replied with

‘If you listen to the good things people say about you you might just start believing them. If you listen to the bad things people say about you you might just start believing them.’

The reality is that people will say unbalanced things about you as a blogger to both extremes. Some will build you up so high that if you believed it your head would be so big that you’d have a hard time fitting it in your Twitter avatar while some will say such unfair and negative things about you that if you believed it you’d give up and never blog again. Don’t let what others say about you determine your self worth – but learn to know when to take it on board and learn to know when to let it go and move on.

What are Your Blog Branding Tips?

I’d love to hear your own experiences and tips on branding blogs in comments below. How do you do it? What have you learned? What advice would you offer?

Further Reading: How to Build Your Personal Brand Through Your Blog and 10 Ways to Brand Your Blog or Website Efficiently

Check out the rest of this series on taking your blog to the next level.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. This is great, as always! I wondered though what do you think about personal branding vs. site branding? I read a article recently about that topic and wondered what you thought, Darren.


  2. Just My Two Copper is literally undergoing the branding process right now. The site has gone from first 100-200 visits then 1,000-1,500 visits, and is now hitting the 4,000 + per day mark (unique visitors not page views).

    I can already see a ‘brand’ forming in my visitors’ minds and it’s pretty amazing to watch.

    There are those on both extremes as you touched on here, and I find it amazing how some people have great things to say and others have nothing but hatred for you.

    My blog is an overnight success in terms of other blogs (being only 2.5 months old) and I want to thank Darren for his help with many thoughtful articles that I read on his site.

  3. For branding, I suggest we all read some textbooks about “Consumer Behavior” and “Marketing”.

  4. I needed this post. My blog has gone through a personality crisis lately. Writing things down to fix them in your mind is definitely a better plan than keeping your plan in your head.

    Do you have any suggestions for a blogger who has used his name as a domain? It seems like this would be a special case. I have thought about creating subdomains around topics because I do so many different things online that putting the resulting posts on one blog would give too many readers content they really don’t want to read. What’s your ideas on this?

  5. Consistency with your logo and gravatar.
    Differentiate yourself from the millions.
    Quick to respond to readers – customer service.

  6. I’m glad you brought up business cards. I thought about doing this but I talked myself out of it. Now I know the idea wasn’t so silly after all.

  7. I have no blog branding tips because I have no experience which I could draw from. All I do is write useful and helpful post and people just visit my sites either through google search or via emails.

    I love the way you teach a blogger indirectly by asking her ‘what do you want to be known for’. And then she changed her 10 news link style to writing 2 original post per week. But I think LifeHacker is a very big exception to this.hehe My very big challenge when it comes to branding is making of a LOGO. How I wish I have nice photoshop skills.

    Thanks for the tips Darren!

  8. Contributing to conversations about you is very important to managing your brand. I always reply to every negative comment on my blog. BackType allows me to keep track of my comments on other blogs and people’s replies to mine. This allows the discussion to continue.

    This accessibility makes people appreciate and respect your writing. If they feel they know the writer behind the words, they are more likely to come back and read some more.

    Great tips!

  9. I think that the main thing to keep in mind is to keep your brand always in mind.

    I try to keep my blog’s brand in mind at all times, no matter whether I am online or off. My upcoming business cards will be highlighting my brand, my blog posts focus on building my authority (as that is one of my goals).

  10. Hey Darren,

    Thanks for the insight! As someone who is embarking on a career change after 30 years of doing something totally different, I am looking at covering all the bases, and this article was very helpful.


  11. Welcome back Darren – I hope you had a good break. Applying stuff I learned a few years ago when working for a European car manufacturer – the secret is to become a “Brand Champion” Everything you write, say or do has to reflect your brand. So start by describing your brand, as though it was a person (easy if it is you as a person!) and write a list of behaviors. Over time you will develop an innate understanding of how the brand (or person) would behave in a given situation. If you develop the mindset that you are the champion of the brand, then you’ll always reflect it in the right way. Sounds wishy washy, but the point I’m trying to make is that the brand isn’t just about logo, layout, style, business cards etc. It’s as much, if not more, about what you write and how you write it.

  12. Excellent information about blog branding – a lot of these same principles can be applied to general branding.

    I believe the initial branding quote can be attributed to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. Arkadi Kuhlmann (founding CEO of ING Direct) said something similar: “The final verdict on a brand is what people say about that brand when the company is not present.”

  13. In my opinion, I think that we need a clear and original slogan to shape a blog brand.

  14. Great article. I’ve been trying to write an article about branding yourself for some time now. It’s good to be able to read this.

    P.S. My wife said she’d help me write my obituary. :)

  15. I like the “2. Be what you want to be known for…… Consistently”

    My tip: “Keep your brand simple and easy to be absorbed by your audience”

    PS: Hey Darren! *Waves*

    – Wakish –

  16. I agree with this article and would add to “Mike” above, the brand is a lot of things, but it’s very much the person or people behind it. I find some folks have great materials or a look, but you meet them and it’s “uh, thanks, but no thanks.” The other thing I’d add is to listen to the type of things say about you; in marketing and sales, these are sometimes the perfect insights where we can improve, but don’t really know it. By taking a pulse, it’s reconn we might not want to hear, but need to. Oh yeah, and business cards – yes, they are very much alive. I still a need to walk away with something from someone, otherwise it’s a bit of a stretch to take them for real. (PS…love your book, recommend to everyone.)

  17. Don’t swear or curse is the biggest branding mistake. While the occasional colourful word won’t kill a brand, regular use will cause many a blog to not be taken seriously and few will want to link to swear ridded words, giving the blog a horrible stigma of immaturity in most cases.

    Another is the use of a real name. I find a blog by Darren Rowse (or any name) gains more respect from me than one by XxX_Sephiroth2039 and I respect the fact they are willing to attach their real name to the work, which improves my view of the blog brand and the writer.

  18. It’s not hard to build a brand, it’s all about consistency. No matter what it is you do or how you do it, if you do it long enough, the same way, you will become known for it.

    I think the biggest problem bloggers have is chasing what’s hot. They see someone doing something they like or enjoy someone’s style, but instead of incorporating it into what they already do, they change what they are doing. They end up all over the map.

    Coca-Cola hasn’t changed much in the last 70 years. How’s their brand?

  19. I’m still learning so the further reading tips I thank you for.

  20. I got into a bit of a bind when I focused too much on what I thought my readers want to read. That always takes me off course. I got myself back on course by daring to go further into what I like and trusting that my readers will follow. So far, so good. I want my brand to be “brutally honest advice about how to make it in this world.”

  21. Brands are about what people say about you.

    We’ve surfaced thousands of brands, presenting crowdsourced photos, videos, and Twitter chats about each. For example, http://s.tEarn.com has 400 sports teams. Some are great brands, smaller colleges need help. http://gf.tEarn.com showcases some of the most visible female celebrities. Some of the classics remain in the conversation despite retiring decades ago. There’s also an analysis of twitter users at http://twitter.tEarn.com. At a glance, you can see the well managed and poorly managed brands.

    Great article, as usual.

  22. Great post. I just subscribed to your blog and I’m enjoying it a lot! I’m trying to get my blog upgraded right now and your articles are so helpful!

    Do you have any suggestions for sites that have more technical help? That is the area I am probably struggling most.

    For instance, my blog just started not loading the two side bars on the main page. They work everywhere else. Ugh.

    Anyways, thank you for your great article!

  23. inthistogether says: 03/04/2009 at 2:33 am

    From point #1 – As a result a brand emerges over time without or without you… (with or without?)

    I know it’s tough to proofread your own work, but I do believe that perfect, proper English reflects you much better.

    Holler if you need me – free.


  24. I just started my personal blog to promote myself as an artist, along with the web design work I do. For me what I take away from your article is mostly being myself — and let the work speak for itself. I suppose it will bring it’s own sense of branding.

  25. I am reading the “KnowHR” book right now, and Frank Roche advises listening to the late Jerry Garcia (I think it’s fantastic advice!)…

    You do not want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.
    – Jerry Garcia

  26. Darren – Another great post! I have just gone through a total redesign of my blog moving it from the free Blogger platform to Word Press on my won hosting account. The points you have illuminated in this post are the driving reasons why I went through this process – authority and branding.

    I have made my blog the center of my online activities and it serves as the hub for my social network. My blog is the host for my online brand and along with Twitter are the indispensable assets within my marketing plan.

    I teach attraction marketing system including a funded proposal, which requires that I monetize my blog. One tip I would share is that bloggers with monetized blogs should be careful to maintain a high value based presentation and brand. I have found that my readers do not mind the ads and affiliate promotions I display on my pages as long as the content of the blogs is dynamic and delivers value consistent with my overall brand.

    Category number two in your post contains truly golden nuggets; I encourage readers of this post to take note and implement these principles with consistency.

    Thank you for the value you add!


  27. Considering what you want to be known for is vital indeed. It is about starting with the end in mind.

    Great post Darren, and thanks for the link.

  28. Consistency is key, you have to have a consistent message and image for brand building to work. And remember everything you do either strengthens or weakens your brand, there is not in between – so think twice before getting drunk one night and posting gibberish on Twitter, it will come back to you.

    Great article,


  29. this is a post I would had love to had read before embarking in my current blog. I have other blogs I did purpose think of branding, but it did not occur to me for this one :(

    Not sure if it a wise idea to change it now?

  30. Thanks for the post Darren. Great Elizabeth Taylor quote…

  31. Yeah once your brand recognised by people that means you have set up a shop of Gold. But this one need regular updation and quality service as well.

    I think one year will be sufficient if you provide your visitors fresh and new articles, news, information and food for their brain.

  32. When it comes to branding MR, 1 “trick” I use is I try and be as consistent as possible when it comes to interacting with my readers. It can be tough as it requires a lot of time in front of the pc but it’s definitely worth it.

    You’d be surprised at how powerful word of mouth can be.


  33. Brand and its positioning are shaped in a process of communication between the blogger and the readers. Both the writer and the reader are important in the process but neither of them can decide the positioning!

  34. I would like to call Branding as ‘Projecting the best of who you are and who you could be’ to others and making others believe and expect the best of you always.

    You strive to prove yourself what you are really capable of and inturn would brand yourself better.

    This gives a satisfaction of branding your true image and not needing to project who you really are not.

  35. One good tip is to develop a tagline that’s easy to remember. Mine is, Success….It’s An Attitude and I sign all my emails/ezines with this particular phrase.

  36. Hi,

    Developing a successful brand is not easy. Even if you establish what you want your blog to be known for it still gonna be hard to achieve it.

    You need time and patient to build a quality blog and a quality brand.


  37. “Identify what you want your blog to be known for” is good for another reason: Your list serves as a way to ground yourself when reading critiques. Sometimes the negative things people say are actually a signal that you have the image you want. Sometimes the positive things people say are a sign that you don’t have the image you want. You can use your list to help you figure out which is which.

    On that note I’d suggest not only writing down things you want to be known for, but also some good and bad comments you could expect to hear as a consequence of your particular brand. If you’re expecting to see a certain negative comment, it’ll be less painful (even a happy experience!) when you end up seeing it.

  38. Michele says: 03/04/2009 at 6:30 am

    I, too, having been an English major, absolutely do not understand why people don’t proof their blogs, especially a site that is pushing blogging. “Without or without you?” There are other mistakes as well. Makes a person wonder, don’t you think?

  39. Thank you for the brand building insights. It’s true, though blogs may not brand themselves, the personality and style of the blog does emerge over time.

    When I started my food blog I wanted to bring a literary angle to my culinary passions. I wanted to write about my experiences about food, much like my food blogging icon, Orangette.

    Over time my “brand” has evolved to be literary and photographically driven but, most importantly, is told from a unique perspective of being a restaurant insider. Keeping my posts focused on my unique perspective is one my biggest challenges and will be what keeps me growing my audience.

    Thank you for the valuable reminders!

  40. I started blogging in 2006 mainly as an experiment, and didn’t really have a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. Although I’m enjoying it and have regular readers, I’ve realized it’s too broad in scope to have a really strong brand. For that reason, I’m in the process of developing a new niche blog with a very clear focus. It will be interesting to see how that one does in comparison to my existing blog, which I intend to continue.

  41. Do you have a points system to review the effectiveness of someone’s blog brand?

    For example the blog brand scores:

    54 out of 100 which is: “average/poor”

    78 out of 100 which is “excellent but still scope for improvement”

    I have been looking for something like this where I can clearly evaluate the brand effectiveness of my blog.

  42. Great post! I’ve recently hired a blog designer to help me with my branding. I will definitely be using this info as we create phase 2 of the blog.

    Thanks, Darren!



  43. I find it easier to brand myself branding myself easier by using logos. They are cheap, easy and fun to make. Article marketing can also allow you to brand yourself. Using the same signature in each email along with the same avatar when blog commenting can also be helpful.

  44. I would add that if you treat your blog like a business from day one (despite how much fun or informality you have), you have a better chance at success. Any effort done haphazardly will be evident, even if it’s “just a blog,” and understanding the permanence of the web is critical before ever hitting the publish button.

  45. Good point Lani, treating your blog like a business is a great way to look at it. Don’t neglect your blog, like you wouldn’t want to neglect your business.

  46. Great post and I believe that branding your blog is a really important thing in the blog success. I am working on traffic right now and after I start getting a passive traffic (I hope it is very soon) I will work on branding. Great post and very
    informative. Thank’s Darren.

  47. Great post and I believe that branding your blog is a really important thing in the blog success. I am working on traffic right now and after I start getting a passive traffic (I hope it is very soon) I will work on branding. Great post and very
    informative. Thank’s Darren.
    Mohammad Afaq
    Free Website Traffic

  48. My tip is to develop your own personal voice. Being first to break stories and having 100% original content is great but what really makes your brand stand out is being able to develop your voice. It’s what draws people back.

  49. Great Post, I like the story of the personal development course. it backs up the importance of thinking long about your blog.

    Branding is important it is vital to invest in a good logo.

  50. This is a great post thanks for such meaningful stuff. I think this will help me in branding my blog.

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