I applied the term “branding” recently to weblogs in order to describe the setting of expectations for visitors to a given site.
It is a term, unfortunately, which raised the hackles of some weblog writers, probably because they do not enjoy the idea of their particular oeuvre being viewed as part of a commercial transaction.
So, let us use another term, “reality”, which communicates the degree of agreement between two ends of a communication line. If I talk about salt and you know what salt is, we have agreement on what I mean.
In the same way, if you have come to my site several times and you have read material that you like, you have a certain reality on what it is that I am doing. That reality contains an expectation of what material I will be offering in the future.
If I make small changes in my site, but the new material relates closely to what I have already produced, you will probably not get upset with me because I have not violated your reality on what to expect.
If I make extreme changes in the kind of material I present, I will probably upset most of my existing readers, even if the new material is well researched and more informative. An existing reader’s expectations will not be met and this invariably causes upset.
Bob Dylan did this several times as he evolved his style of music. Each new style was more popular than the last, but earlier fans were upset at each change.
If I set expectations properly, you as a reader will know what to expect from future visits. This can increase the possibility that you will return or may guaranty that you will delete this link from your blogroll. Either way, there should be no upsets on the part of the reader.
Whether you prefer the term reality or branding, a certain consistency as well as excellence of product is necessary for continuing reader satisfaction. I hope that I am providing that for most of you.
I welcome your thoughts on this.