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How Healthy Is Your Blog? Evaluate and Get the Free Download Now

By Oct 30, 2013 48 Comments

The term branding is a hot topic these days. Look around and take notice of the companies that you respect and admire. More often than not, these companies have a solid brand. You can tell that thought and effort have been invested in building that brand, from the way that it communicates, to its design.

If you need inspiration, take a look at Target, Jet Blue, and Moo. They’ve clearly thought about their brand personality and how to best express it. And the great news is that this type of strategic thinking about a brand can also benefit bloggers.

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Is Your Blog Brand Healthy?

But, First, What is a “Brand”?

Let’s take a step back and clarify the definition. Because often in my work as a brand strategist, my clients aren’t always clear on what a brand actually is. Many assume that it’s a company’s name, logo and tagline. Back in the 50s, when corporate identity and design first began to emerge as a field, this was certainly the case.

But today, a brand is much more than those simple identifiers.

Smart companies recognize that a customer’s perception of their brand is based on their experience across a whole host of touch points.

And a touch point is really just that – any point of interaction where a customer actually touches (figuratively or not) the company. For Coca-Cola, this would mean their products, their website, their vending machines, their social media efforts, even their trucks and their drivers.

Companies spend an awful lot of time evaluating their brand health and it’s an easy-to-follow process for bloggers to adopt as well.

Identify the Core Offering

The first goal of any branding-related work is to identify your blog’s core offering.

Companies go through this process every few years – they seek to understand what they offer, who their customer is, and how their company is different from their competitors. In branding lingo, this is called brand positioning.  This ensures that the company stands for something relevant in the minds of its key audiences.

I see a lack of clear focus over and over in the blogging world, where I struggle to understand the basic concept of many blogs that I visit. There is pressure (financial, social, etc.) to post often, and this can lead to posting on a wide variety of topics, leaving me to wonder, am I the intended audience for this blog? and what am I supposed to get out of reading this blog?

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Identify Improvement Opportunities

Once this core idea is identified, the fun can begin.

Just as a company would use its brand positioning to make sure that its touch points are brand-aligned, a blogger can test the health of his or her blog at the various points where it touches its followers.

The most important touch point of all, of course, is the blog itself. The blog is really the embodiment of your core idea – it’s the place where you can best exert your influence over the design and messaging, so put your best foot forward! Take the time to make sure that your blog fulfills its intention. Do you strive to make life easier for your audience, through helpful tips and essential advice? Then your site had better to be simple to navigate and easy to use!

I’ve come across countless blogs whose mission seems to be to help make Moms’ lives easier, yet they’re incredibly tough to navigate. Just leaving a simple comment becomes a chore when the site is full of vibrant, blinking backgrounds, competing fonts, linkup widgets and ads.

Aside from the blog itself, think about the other critical touch points that influence the perception of your brand. The social media buttons that you add to the top of your site aren’t there to simply install and forget. When visitors link to your social media sites, these sites should likewise be a reflection of your core offering.

Put some branding strategy into your sorely neglected social media sites and watch your blog get a boost.

Case In Point: Instagram

I had always neglected my Instagram. Yes, my blog linked to it, but it was an odd mix of poorly curated family pics and I didn’t interact with others who were using the app.

I place a high premium on quality photography, good design, and interesting stories on my blog Feed Me Dearly , and I love to interact with my readers – so why wasn’t I doing it here?

This summer I decided to refocus my efforts on Instagram – I made an effort to improve the quality of my pictures, introduce some storytelling through words and phrases, and began to connect with others using the app in a more social way through hashtags and follows.

With just a few small changes, Instagram has become a great resource for me and has helped promote my blog on a more intimate level. With my newly updated approach, I’ve been able to connect with people, as I do on my blog, over the topics that I care about most: food and family.

Take this approach with all of your blog’s touch points – your partnerships, your business cards, your reviews, your giveaways. Each touch point is a way for you to introduce to the world: This is me. This is my brand. This is what I stand for. Evaluate the areas where you need the most work, and get started on updating them to be more in line with the image that you’d like to project.

Branding is a game of perception played with many pieces, so go ahead, get your pieces organized, and put your best first forward.  Good luck!

Download the Graphic!

If you liked the flow chart graphic in this post, download it now using the link below. It is a handy reminder of how to keep an eye on your blog’s health.

Click Here to Download the Graphic

About the Author:
Jessica 150 imageWhile not working in her role as the founder and chief brand strategist for branding agency Hub & Spoke branding, Jessica spends her time writing about food, family, and fearlessness on her blog Feed Me Dearly. She’s dealt with a host of typical family challenges – picky eating, food allergies, school lunches, and the worst offender of all – the bare fridge. With her trademark sense of humor, she addresses the issues head on, showing how the kitchen can be a source of pure, unadulterated, fun, not angst. You can also find Jessica on Twitter.

Ready for More? Keep Reading!

If you enjoyed this post on keeping your blog healthy, keep reading! We have more for you.

48 Comments

  • angela says:

    Kristi – thank you for sharing this encouragement. I haven’t used instagram to its fullest advantage, and I need to be more intentional.

  • Loved your article. It has lots of practical things that a blogger should consider. I am not a member of the SITS community but I’m a Blogger blogger, my niche is handmade, and I cater to women who love feminine crochet. I pinned it to my Bloggers board on Pinterest because I think it has a lot of merit for any blogger who finds his or herself in any niche. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jenny says:

    Thanks for this post! I kept hearing about “branding” but never had a clear idea of what that really was until now!

  • […] SITS Girls, How Healthy is Your Blog? Is your blogging making the impact that you […]

  • Carolyn K says:

    I feel you on the Instagram, I neglected it too. First it was that I am a photo snob and do not like to take photos with anything less than my Canon. I could not understand how I would be able to promote via Instagram. I however bit the bullet as you did and found that I adapted to using both and that using Instagram was an asset to my blog.

  • These are definitely tips to know and keep in mind as I continue building my blog. I’ve been wondering about branding and since social media isn’t easy for me all the time, this article actually confirms that building my blog’s FB page is as important and I thought it might be. Still a work in progress, but this helps 🙂

  • Thanks so much for the tips! I am just now beginning to dip my toe in the blogging world….I have sooooo much to learn!!

  • Does instaframe count? 😉 I use that all the time, but have the hardest time getting into instagram and twitter. I refused to use them for years (for no real reason), but then again I refused to blog, or wear brown eye liner for the longest time as well, and now those are 2 things I do almost daily!

  • Gracielle says:

    Brand positioning is so important! I do this professionally, but in my own personal blog I can’t seem to master this just yet. I’m kind of all over the place, but I agree once I hone in on this then my other social media feeds should align. Thanks for the great post!

  • Thanks so much for sharing! I’ll definitely be referencing it as I move forward in building my blog and its readership.

  • Jessica! What an excellent post. It has taken me over 2 years to figure out just what I’m all about on my blog! LOL I am still honing it..thanks to people like you that really encourage me and others to KNOW what we are all about. Love it!
    Thanks so much..got me thinkin again!
    Blessings!!

  • vpshunt says:

    wow, nice info! I think I have some idea, after read this article…
    thanks for your information.. 🙂

  • True, two year mark & I am ready for a branding update. I just got an instagram account, but need to utilize it more. I see it being a valuable part to social media. Good touch points, to think about & consider Thanks.

  • Shawnda says:

    Informative article, thanks! I have an Instagram account with one single solitary picture from August. Guess I’d better work on utilizing Instagram more!

  • Jane says:

    This is a very helpful article and I definitely saved the picture!

    I noticed that once I had to leave my job, I had SO much more free time to focus on these things and slowly but surely, I see it paying off.

  • This is a wildly helpful article. It’s easy to forget who the target audience is, sometimes. I have a book blog and becomes so caught up in the books I received for free and by request that I forgot what my whole focus was. Over the past month I’ve started to refocus on my love for non-fiction and while I know I’ll lose some followers, I will gain a tremendous value and feeling of accomplishment knowing I’m doing what I love instead of what’s easy.

  • I really need to focus on my Instagram account too. Should I have two accounts? A personal and a blog one or just have a combination? Right now I am combining them.
    Great tips!!

    • Jessica says:

      Combination works just fine, and as I mentioned to Charlotte in the comment above, they just have to have a certain style that’s consistent across your pictures and across your blog & other social media. Check mine out if you want at http://www.instagram.com/feedmedearly and you can see that combining represents who you are, and definitely doesn’t just have to be about your blog’s focus (in my case food). Good luck!

  • Thanks! I def. need to focus and really get my blog in order. I don’t have an Instagram, or maybe I do, I don’t use it if I do, lol…maybe I should, though!

  • Charlotte says:

    Wow, there are a LOT of takeaways here for more, but I understand now the importance of Instagram and how to make it work within the parameters of my blog (for a clear brand message). I feel like I clutter it with a lot of random dog pictures (because who doesn’t like puppy photos??) and food pics (I know, I’m like the annoying hipster constantly taking pics of delicious eats). But I see what you mean here.

    Awesome, AWESOME post! Thanks for this (now following you on Twitter).

    • Jessica says:

      Hey Charlotte,
      I wrote the article and want to let you know that dog photos can be such an important part of building your Instagram community! I have a vizsla, and I’ve become part of an amazing family of Vizsla owners on Instagram, who were in some cases never blog readers, but have become a part of my Feed Me Dearly community of readers. The key is – if you’re posting dog pics, hashtag them so that you can find like-minded dog lovers, and they’ll instantly have a vested interest in your life and pictures. Just make sure that you have a consistency about posting your pics- my style is evolving but there is definitely a specific style to the pics – whether they’re dog pics, pics of my family, etc….Good luck!

      • Charlotte says:

        Good to know! Thanks so much (PS: I’m not sure I ever heard of a Vizsla before so of course had to Google pics. OMG, ADORABLE!!!). I appreciate all of the info so much!

  • I’m totally relating with the unfocused ones. Perhaps, I have too many interests and not enough blogging time under my belt. I can’t help it…I like this…and that…and not that… 😀

  • Carla says:

    What a wonderful article! While I’ve been in marketing for years, somehow when it comes to my blog I just don’t get to where I need to be. I’ve decided recently to approach it more like a business and hopefully I’ll see some improvements.

  • Kim says:

    I need more of a focus but after spending so much time agonizing over it and following too many blogging rules I’ve decided to hold back. In my experience spending a lot of time worried about your “brand” rather than who you or your blog) are as an individual can sometimes make you feel like you’re a failure if you’re not doing it right. My blog is me, the person, and the idea of making me a brand is just a bit unsettling.

    • Jessica says:

      Hey Kim, I totally get you. I think different people will have different objectives with blogging. I’d say the majority of bloggers that I come across want to make a little (sometimes a lot) of money from blogging, and in those cases, having a brand-centric frame of mind can be powerful – that’s how businesses see themselves, so being able to think in the same parallel as branders is helpful.

      That being said, there are many who blog for fun, and in that case, yeah, brand, who cares, it’s all about connecting and having a good time. Nothing wrong with that mentality either.

      And this article is never meant to suggest that as a blogger, you’re all of a sudden a cold-hearted corporation with strict rules and regulations – it’s more of a guideline to say that yes, we’re human, but we touch people in various ways through our blogs, let’s think about the best way to present ourselves across these numerous areas, and be consistent about it.

      And you’re never a failure if you don’t “do it right!” – I still don’t do it right in a number of areas, the big ones don’t always do it right. And what is the definition of “right”? We’re all a work in progress and just putting ourselves out there to be judged on a daily basis is a huge accomplishment. Good luck with everything.

  • You guys always have the hookup with advice:) Thanks for posting this!

  • Emelie says:

    This is an awesome post. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • corlie says:

    Thanks for these tips, I love the flowchart, I’ve downloaded it and will keep it in my study to remind me of what my main goal with the blog is.
    Cheers! Corlie

  • Jessica, great post – thanks! And I definitely agree with you and Trisha, IG is so conducive to fun interaction and a better connection. Just followed both of you 🙂 See you there too!

  • Awesome tips!
    I’m really new to Instagram, so I found that section especially helpful. =0)

  • Hey Jess! I <3 being your IG buddy. 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      Absolutely, love being your IG buddy too 🙂 Such a great community, even though it builds slowly…I feel like I know people on IG better than any other social network.

  • Nice advice. I too adore great pictures, but definitely have not focused on that for my blog. There is something there to improve on easily!

    Thanks!

  • Heather says:

    Happy, happy SITS Day!

  • Shana Norris says:

    “Evaluate the areas where you need the most work, and get started on updating them to be more in line with the image that you’d like to project.” … I love this advice. For some reason it sounds so do-able. And that’s good because this is an area that’s most of the time overwhelming to me!

  • Sarah says:

    Great tips! I hear you on no clear focus. I read a book recently that got me thinking about my focus and navigation as well.
    I rethought my blog and am working on making it easier to get to topics.
    I feel like I have a more clear view of the info I want out. Its also inspired me. I have loads of ideas now, which I did not think would happen. 🙂

  • Dalia says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips. That is something that I have struggled with on my blog over the past two years. trying to find my voice in the blogoshere is not an easy thing, including your target audience and brand. I’m still learning and continue to take tips here and there. Not to mention the calling of life itself.

  • Nicki Lewis says:

    Those are some awesome tips. I am a newbee trying to build my blog. I have setup a Instagram and using it some but these are good things to keep in mind

  • Deirdre says:

    I love your tip for improving your Instagram photos. I am working on that now too.