Building a Brand that WINS


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What are some brands that you immediately think of when you think about building a brand?

Nike, Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, Coca-Cola…there are so many that come to mind.

Now, how many of you have heard of Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or Asa Griggs Candler?

Yes, some of those names are more well known because they’ve either been in the news recently or have been featured as some of the wealthiest people. But, these are the founders of the brands I mentioned.

Why is it that we recognize the brands so much easier than the founders? Because brands are easy to remember. We see their logos, hear their slogans, and read their value propositions all the time.

Successful brands do an amazing job at creating a strong value proposition—which is a compelling reason to buy their product or service.

They’ve created a value proposition that people want to be a part of.

They’ve been able to fill consumer’s needs, solve a problem, explain why their products or services are better than their competition, build a community, and create a winning culture.

Taglines and slogans are great but don’t get those confused with the value proposition. Nike’s, “Just Do It” tells consumers nothing about why they should purchase their product or why they’re better than Under Armor.

Several brands have been able to successfully combine their slogan and value proposition into one powerful statement. If you can do this, it’ll be a game changer for your blog and will make it easier to tell your audience what you’re all about.

Building a Brand that WINS

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Define your value proposition

As you start brainstorming your brand, think about what makes you different from the rest. Especially if you’re in a highly competitive niche.

Blogs about blogging, personal finance, cooking, health and fitness, parenting, and so on are filled with competition.

To stand out, you’ll need to define your competitive advantage and then be able to effectively communicate that through your value proposition.

Take Mailchimp for example, they managed to turn their value proposition into their slogan. “Send Better Email”. It’s simple, short, and powerful. It tells current and future customers exactly what they’ll get with their service.

Another example is Vimeo, which positions itself as a higher quality competitor to YouTube. Their value proposition clearly states that they have videos worth watching, unlike some of the useless videos that people put on YouTube.

Lastly, look at FreshBooks. Their value proposition states, “Small Business Accounting Software Designed for You, The Non-Accountant”. They make it clear that you don’t need a degree in Accounting to use their software.

What will your value proposition be for your blog?

What problem will you solve?

Why should readers come to your blog or decide to subscribe?

Our value proposition, at Learn to Earn Blogging is, “Content to help you learn how to launch and grow a blog​” paired with our slogan, “A Resource for Bloggers”. This clearly articulates what readers can expect out of this site.

What is a Brand?

Let’s circle back for a moment and discuss what a brand is.

Building a Brand that WINS

The definition I like most is from successwise.com.  They define a brand as, “the personality of a business” and they outline 6 attributes:

  1. What’s its name?
  2. What does it wear? (ie design)
  3. How does it communicate? (ie positioning)
  4. What are its core values and what does it stand for? (ie brand promise)
  5. Who does it associate with? (ie target market)
  6. Is it well known? (ie brand awareness)

You start to build what’s called, “brand equity” after you’ve proven to readers that you produce quality and relevant posts. It’s built up over time and isn’t something you can sell or gain without consistently providing value day-in and day-out.

What’s going to make a reader come to your blog when there are dozens of others with similar content?

Customer experience definitely plays a role in your brand equity. How do customers feel when they land on your site, read one of your posts, progress through a sales funnel?

Be sure to put yourself in their shoes and think about how their experience will be.

Does your site load quickly? Is there some sort of flow to it? How does it make you feel? Do all of your pages, copy, imagery, etc align? Is your content easy to read, in small digestible paragraphs?

Have a family member or trusted friend walk through your site and provide feedback. Next, share it with some blogging groups. You’ll, for sure, get honest feedback from these.

Are you a member of any blogging groups? If not, here are a few I recommend:

They typically all have a day during the week where you can share new projects, posts, blogs, etc and get feedback from the other members.

Elements of a Strong Brand

Target Audience

It’s important to know who your audience will be—who you plan to write to.

Some blogs have very specific niches. Look at Millennial Money Man, for instance, this is a personal finance blog that targets millennials. Or look at The Dumpster Dog Blog, which targets young women for financial advice. Or lastly, Motherly, which targets other moms by redefining motherhood.

Other blogs are very general in nature and don’t have a specific niche.

Take Chasing Foxes for instance. They’re a lifestyle blog and target pretty much anyone interested in money, travel, fashion, food, and all things lifestyle.

If you have a niche, define your target audience and tailor your writing to them. If your blog is broader in nature, still think about the types of people who may read your blog and write to that segment of readers.

As a blogger, you’ll need to be flexible as audiences may change over time. So, start with your target and adjust as necessary based on your data.

Brand Promise

Your brand promise is essentially the same thing as your value proposition. It’s the message you give about the value you provide. Make sure it’s clear, concise, and appropriate for your target audience.

Building a Brand that WINS

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Brand Perception

This is nearly impossible to measure as a new blogger. But as you grow and build a community, you can ask your subscribers what they think of your brand.

You could pose a question with pictures (some negative and some positive images) and ask them to tell you how they feel when they think about your brand.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about from surveymonkey.com…

“Many brand trackers contain a question that measures which brand attributes consumers associate with your brand. Is your brand modern or innovative or helpful or fun? Using images instead of words can get you even more clarity on brand perception, especially when paired with an open-ended “Why did you select this image?” question.” Check out the example here.

As a new blog, you can start to build a brand perception by being consistent. This not only refers to posting on a regular basis but also ensuring your brand voice is consistent. More on brand voice in a moment.

You also start to build your brand perception by being knowledgeable about your niche and creating epic content.

What’s an epic piece of content you ask?

One that thoroughly covers a topic, more than any other post available, and answers every question your audience could possibly think of.

Epic content can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete and publish.

If readers view you as a source of authority, your perception blossoms into one that people look to for answers.

According to Susan Gunelius, a Forbes Contributor:

“Consumers build brands, not companies. This is a fundamental marketing truth that cannot be denied. Consumers give brands value by developing perceptions and expectations for those brands. Companies enhance the value by delivering consistent brand experiences that consumers can trust.” Read the full article here.

So, how does your blog look and feel or how will you want it to look and feel?

  • Will you be perceived as someone just trying to make money (because you have ads all over the freaking place?)
  • As a complete newbie (because you left some of the lorem ipsum copy on one of your pages or forgot to delete “Hello world”?)

Or

  • As a knowledgeable blog with authority in your niche (because you followed the 3 phases from this blog and are crushing it!).

Make sure it’s the later.

Brand Values

This may be more of an internal code of conduct or ethics with which you work from. But, give some thought to your brand values. These are the core principles with how you run your blog. Having ethics, as part of your core values, would be a good start. 🙂

For example, don’t plagiarize. Taking someone else’s work and publishing it as your own would tarnish your brand and probably end with your site loading a 404 white screen of death.

Work and write with a core set of principles. Your readers may not always consciously notice, but it will make an impact on your brand perception over time.

Brand Voice/Positioning

What kind of message will you portray? Will you add your own personality, humor, and wit? These are usually the types of things that help build personal brands. But, they can also help businesses as well.

Brand positioning is how you communicate with your audience. Will you only write blog posts or eventually create a podcast or YouTube channel? What types of posts will you use? Listicles, reviews, in-depth how-to’s?

Keep your target audience in mind and ensure your brand voice is consistent and in-line with their expectations.

Create a Logo

A logo is a great way for readers to identify your brand and spread brand awareness. It’s something you can use for your social media accounts, at the top of your emails, and on the header of your site.

Logos are one of those things though that would be good to outsource. I recommend a site like Fiverr for help with creating a solid logo.

If you’re working on a dime, I would recommend Logojoy or Canva to do it yourself.

Although logos are a great brand identifier, don’t spend too much time on this. Here’s why.

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Read: Beginners Guide to Hosting: Why You MUST be Self-Hosted

Read: How to Create a Blog Name that WINS

Why a Strong Brand is Important

Provides peace of mind

When brands consistently deliver a positive customer experience, it builds a strong brand perception. This gives your audience peace of mind and a safe, reliable source for information.

Over time, you start connecting with customers. You can create a bond by appealing to your reader’s emotional needs. This bond developed between a brand and its consumers often creates brand loyalty.

Helps you stand out from the crowd

Your brand may be the difference between your reader heading to Google to search for a specific topic or heading directly to your site because they know you’ve developed authority on the subject.

Build your authority and perception and Brand Loyalty will follow suit.

Gives readers a reason to care and share

A strong brand will give your readers a reason to stick around (become subscribers) and share their experience with others. We live in a world where people love to share their experiences. Albeit good and bad. Give them a good reason.

A strong brand will give your readers a reason to share your content.

Creates an emotional connection

Customers are not always rational. Colin Shaw, from BrandQuarterly.com, put it this way:

“Customers make irrational decisions all the time. From what brand of toothpaste they buy, to the car they drive, to the restaurants they choose, we buy emotionally and then justify with rationality afterwards.”

Do you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? If not, read up on it here. When you truly understand the needs of your target audience and where they’re at on the hierarchy, you can start to connect on an emotional level.

“The goal for a brand marketer is to understand each level of needs for a target market and develop marketing communications and initiatives that clearly address those needs for consumers.” – Susan Gunelius

This is where the magic happens.

Conclusion

In closing, building a brand that wins is a key element to building a blog that succeeds online.

If you plan to monetize your blog, you’ll want to build your brand. Whether that means building a personal brand, like Neil Patel or a business brand, like Copyblogger, start building today.

Challenge

Write down your blog’s target market, value proposition or promise, and how you want your brand voice and position to look and feel.

Start thinking about your color palette and how you want the customer experience to be when a reader lands on your blog.


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2 thoughts on “Building a Brand that WINS”

  1. Great article on building a brand! I wish I had read this before I started my blog. A strong brand is important and will help connect and reach more readers. It’s a long game though and can take a while to build.

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for reading! You’re right, it is a long game. Consistency is key. Keep me updated on how you’re building your brand.

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