From Blog to Brand: Questions to Help Define a Vision for your Blog

This post is by Ann Colville Somma of Holier than Now

For most of us, our blog is personal. We are independent fashion bloggers – the very opposite of corporate blogs that ultimately seek to sell something. It might not come naturally to think of ourselves as a product – yet we want people to consume our blogs (i.e. visit them) as often as possible, and to align their brands with our brand by purchasing ad space or including us in their P.R. outreach.

Whether your goals include growing your audience, securing or increasing ad revenue, connecting with P.R. firms, or developing a portfolio, it can be inspiring to take a fresh look at your blog as a brand.

A brand is a promise to deliver

Replace “brand” with “blog” and this oft-used definition suddenly resonates. The pressure to deliver is constant in the blogosphere, and it’s easy to lose sight of our unique voices when we’re hustling to create something – anything – to satisfy the daily reader. But in order to differentiate from the growing number of fashion blogs, your brand should be known as a destination for something special.

What do you or can you deliver that other blogs do not or cannot?

“If you can’t write your movie idea on the back of a business card, you ain’t got a movie.” – Samuel Goldwyn

Kevin Roberts employs this quote in his book Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands. Great brands stick to their story, and the story is usually simple. For example: once upon a time there was an Apple product that was totally new as compared to other stuff, looked great, and understood my needs. (You might not agree with all of those statements about Apple, but chances are you agree with some). If you’re developing the next Apple product, you’ll ask yourself: is this thing innovative, beautiful, and intuitive?

How can you express your blog’s story in a sentence? Better yet, how can you express it in three words?

“Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.” – Jim Jarmusch

Many successful blogs turn conventional branding on its head. Why is Cat Khan’s Knightcat so well-followed when she’s primarily just reposting other people’s images? Even her header (which we think of as a blog’s logo) is someone else’s image!

Cat’s vision is authentically hers, and unwavering. It is expressed consistently in the images she chooses, the post titles, and the brief commentary. Paradoxically, knowing what to expect is what keeps us coming back to the blogs we love. You might find newness multiple times a day over at Knightcat, but you know how it’s going to look, feel, and sound.

Does your content look, feel, and sound like your story – every time?

You might be surprised to come to the end of this article without a mention of logo, aesthetics (layout, etc.), and customer (reader) interaction. Yes, each of these traditional communicators of brand can help differentiate your blog and clearly express why you are special.

If you want a new logo, by all means let your answers to these questions guide your design process. But even if you have a plain white background and a black text logo (see: Fashiontoast), your answers can provide a framework for your vision, a checklist for your content, and ultimately, a foundation for your blog’s brand.

Recommended reading:

Jim Jarmusch’s inspiring take on originality can be found here.

These illustrated books are a great way for anyone to get inspired about branding and design:

Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands (Kevin Roberts)

Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design (Debbie Millman)

About the author: Ann Colville Somma is the blogger behind Holier than Now, co-founder of the Cliquesound ad network, and a branding and innovations consultant to the fashion and beauty industries.

Image by metaldoll / CC BY 2.0

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24 Responses

  1. Jessica

    Good points — it’s easy to get caught up with the look of your blog (which is important in branding too), and forget about the voice that is really what sets you apart.
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Review: Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion =-.

  2. erin

    these how-tos are so incredibly helpful–and i love that the newsletter is back!
    it’s really unbelievable how establishing a brand can not only attract readers, but keep them coming back because they know exactly what they’re going to get from you. thanks for the tips!

  3. Beth Ruby

    Amazing article, love what you say about Knightcat especially. Her idea is so simple and that is why she has so many followers and fans, you know what her blog is all about and so you keep on going back for more of her gorgeous photograph finds.
    Really interesting points here and so helpful!
    .-= Beth Ruby´s last blog ..Where fashion and music meet- Rihanna =-.

  4. DailyDivaDish

    Thank you Ann for such a thought-provoking post. Sometimes I get caught up in trying to shake things up, when I may do better to keep things more simple and as expected. Your use of Knightcat as an example was spot-on. We all know what to expect…and we all keep heading back for more.
    XO Piper
    .-= DailyDivaDish´s last blog ..A Blockbuster GIVEAWAY =-.

  5. Purse Pixie

    Thank you for your article. I am a new blogger trying to find my voice and identity and these points will give me something to think about.

  6. Venetian Glass Jewelry

    Great point about ‘What do you or can you deliver that other blogs do not or cannot?’

    It’s not only important to offer something of value to the reader but make sure you are speaking to a targeted niche versus the industry in general.