Branding and How It Affects Your Blog – Are you asking the right questions?

by Robb Sutton

Branding is everywhere. Every single object we touch and interact with on a daily basis has a massive amount of research thrown into branding and how that branding will affect that product’s potential customer base. If you take a quick second and look around you, do you start to notice how much branding is infused into your life? Within arms reach, I have several Apple logos, a Logitech eye, a Wordpress W, multiple icons from Adobe products…the list goes on and on – and I don’t even have to leave my chair! Anyone for some Vitamin water??

So as we look into the world and see all of the emphasis on branding around us, it really becomes apparent that creating your own brand is essential to stand out from the crowd and be successful. So why is it that almost every blog you go to (minus the massively successful ones) completely ignore branding and have zero strategy as it relates to creating a brand that they can wrap their content and design around?

The Truth About Branding And Logos

Do you think Coke worries about branding a new soft drink after they launch the new taste bud satisfying liquid to the world? Absolutely not. Bloggers on the other hand…run full steam ahead without even a thought about how they want to be portrayed on the web. Why do they do this? Bloggers – on average – give no thought to branding and how they want to be perceived on the net because they have zero clue where to start.

FedEx Logo - Branding for BlogsThe common problem with branding is that hindsight is a hell of a lot easier than coming up with an original idea. When you look at the major powerhouses in brand awareness and logo integration (ex. Target, Fedex), the logo and mission of the company looks like common sense! Why wouldn’t they have picked that? It’s perfect! And that is the problem. When it comes to logo creation and a real brand road map, it looks incredibly easy when done right. The process of coming up with that common sense angle that will scream professionalism and help you grow your blog to new heights…is incredibly difficult. So instead of taking a serious look at how you want your blog to be seen in the eyes of advertisers, new readers and potential investors, most of you will just throw up a simple text piece with a tagline that somewhat describes what you are doing and move on without another thought.

The Branding and Logo Process – Time To Ask Questions

I am in the process of preparing a MAJOR overhaul on Mountain Biking by 198. During this process, I am righting some beginners mistakes by moving to a new domain name and centering my branding around the site so it can move on to the next level…expansion. It is time to jump out of just mountain biking and provide useful content and reviews for road biking, urban biking and bike lifestyle. It is an exciting time and the result is going to be fantastic!

Since this is requiring a lot of changes to the core message of the site, I am working with some pros that take branding very seriously. Vitamin is handling the logo design and brand awareness while Just the Web is redesigning the entire layout and handling the move. As you can probably already tell…what started as a simple idea to expand the blog has turned into a massive venture.

As we started looking at how we wanted the new to be perceived by potential advertisers and companies that are sending in product for review purposes, we knew right away that the branding of the new site was going to be extremely important. At that point…we started brainstorming on what needed to take place to accomplish the goals of the site.

Like any good pro, Vitamin knew exactly how to get my wheels turning and move forward. Below are some sample questions they sent me. These questions made me realize that I really need to take a step back and think before I acted…

  • In three sentences or less, what is and what position does it hold in the cycling industry?
  • Do you have a personal philosophy or motto that guides the approach you take to your work?
  • How do you define the value that brings its users compared to the competition?
  • Who is’s ideal user? (age, riding skill set, general demo info?)
  • How do you work to separate your company from competition?
  • How does your user base perceive your competition to be better?

Now…obviously…these are not all the questions I had to run through to get a completely branding profile, but you get the idea. Want you want…is to stimulate your brain and figure out what your mission for your blog actually is. Have you actually given thought to this with your blog? Do you have a direction? Do you know who you are going after? Do you even know who your competition is in your niche?

Your branding is going to directly affect how your blog is perceived in the eyes of your readers in direct competition with the other blogs in your niche blogging topic. As you look at your options and weigh out your goals with your blog, are you putting your best foot forward with an organized attack or are you just winging it and hoping for the best?

The road is a rough one when it comes to making your own logo that defines where you are heading with your blog. Quite frankly…it is the simplest hard thing to do in the world, but by taking a close look at how you are seen in the eyes of your readers, you can achieve that new height in your blogging that you have always dreamed of in the past.

Have other bloggers done it without a logo and professional look? Yes…but the percentage of those successful bloggers is much less than those that have. As you take a look around the web at your favorite websites and blogs, start to take a look at how they have approached their brand awareness through color schemes, logos and copy. How are they setting themselves apart from every other site in their niche?

Some Simple Tips for Simple Branding

  • Simpler is better – Forget the fancy shadowing and embossing on your text. It just makes things harder to read and you can do more with font selection (easy to read) and color scheming.
  • Define your goals and stick to them – Do not try to incorporate every single aspect of your blogging into one cluttered banner logo. All great logos compliment the content…not distract away from it.
  • Ask yourself the questions first…go for the design second – Too many bloggers create a logo that they like to look at instead of what is relevant to their blogging. Do not reverse engineer…ask your questions and get a clear outlook before you start brainstorming design and color ideas.
  • Do not copy or imitate others – Your readers are going to be able to tell when you are just copying another blogger in your niche. Successful branding is original and copying will actually send you backwards from your goal. You would be better off not having anything at all than having a logo that is basically the same as someone else’s.

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Mike October 21, 2009 - 3:40 pm

I’ve been thinking about the designer at my day job do something for me…however, before I can tell them what I want, I’ll have to get an idea of what I actually want.

Robb Sutton October 22, 2009 - 8:11 am

HAHA…ain’t that truth.

Sam Whited October 25, 2009 - 9:41 am

I’ve only recently begun to try and convert my personal blog over to a marketing tool and one of the first things I thought about and changed was the branding.
I feel like my branding still isn’t anywhere near what I’d like it to be, so thanks for a wonderful trove of information!


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