This is a totally true statement, but I need to provide additional information so you can act upon it.
Let me first define brand with a dictionary definition that applies to this discussion:
An identifying symbol, words, or mark that distinguishes a product or company from its competitors.
Jennifer Rice, who has an interesting weblog on branding, provides an expansion of the above definition:
A brand is a promise of value to customers, and it sets a certain expectation.
So, what does all of this mean to you as a weblogger?
Here is what Tom Peters has to say in an essay titled, The Brand Called You:
Anyone can have a Web site. And today, because anyone can … anyone does! So how do you know which sites are worth visiting, which sites to bookmark, which sites are worth going to more than once? The answer: branding. The sites you go back to are the sites you trust. They’re the sites where the brand name tells you that the visit will be worth your time — again and again. The brand is a promise of the value you’ll receive.
How can you put this to work?
Think of your weblog as a brand, “Brand MyBlog.” Everything you write, everything you do has to communicate a consistent message because it communicates the value and character of the brand. It all matters: your posts, the way you handle phone conversations, the email messages you send. These are all part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand.
You can get a grip on what your current MyBlog brand image is by asking yourself: What value am I delivering to my readers? What message am I delivering?
You might also want to ask yourself a more difficult question: What is it that my weblog does that makes it different?
To paraphrase Tom Peters: If your answer wouldn’t light up the eyes of a prospective visitor or doesn’t agree with comments from past visitors, or — worst of all — if it doesn’t grab you, then you’ve got a big problem. It’s time to give some serious thought and even more serious effort to imagining and developing yourself as a brand.
How does this all relate to my earlier statement?
“If you understand branding, you can hold your audience and make it grow.”
1. You have to understand what you are promising your visitors.
2. You need to make sure you are providing a value that will make them return.
3. You need to keep communicating a consistent message.
Many thanks to Jennifer for reawakening my interest in brands and branding. I had conveniently tucked all I knew away under the overall subject of marketing. She also noted that 50% of business professionals don’t know what a brand means. If you have stuck with me this far, you are well ahead of that crowd.
Finally, a direct quote from Tom Peters: It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.
Wishing you great success…