Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Branding



I think we all realize the importance of branding products. For example, think Tide and you think immediately of a bright red and yellow spot. Or think MacDonalds and your mind goes to either golden arches or Ronald MacDonald, depending on your age.

I never thought I'd ever consider myself and branding in the same sentence. But I was putting in an order for some stuff, business cards, pens, a mug etc last week (and hopefully they will arrive soon - they notified me they had shipped) and I realized that one of the reasons why I don't change the look of my blog much - apart from the fact that I've no idea how to go about it - is I consider the banner my brand. There have been a few changes to the design that Mailyn did a few years ago, the wonderful and talented Ames did a three column design, I've played around a bit with the background colours and the sidebars. But basically, it's stayed the same for quite some time now and other than those kinds of changes, I think I'll keep what I have because for me now - it's part of my 'identity' in the romance blogging world. The business cards, the pens, the little fridge magnets I ordered all have it.


Now the mug and mouse pad that I ordered aren't my 'brand',
that was me wanting to have RICHARD close - as if the specially designed calendar wasn't enough -there are some things
I don't do in half measures!


December is a bit gray, but July should be light and sunny!! And the calendar was free as well as the mouse pad and the mug was half price!!


But the free tote bag and greatly reduced pens and some of the other stuff have the Ramblings on Romance, etc, 'brand' on them.

Looking at other blogs, I'm not the only blogger who 'brands'.

The Smart Bitches logo with the women in glasses is immediately recognizeable.
As is Wendy - SuperLibrarian, who has a righteous post up now about the loss of her fantasy boyfriend,
and the hosts of an awesome contest going, Dear Author.



All these bloggers who have been around for a while I think are 'branded' on their blogs.
Rosie is another blogger who also has an excellent 'brand'. As does Stacy. In fact there are quite a few!
Because I consider my header my 'brand', when I decided to have business cards made up a couple of years ago now, it was easy to design. Since I've started going to conferences and conventions and meeting other bloggers and authors and other industry people, I thought it would be ever so much easier to hand them out then it would be to try and find pen and paper and write out the stuff. And the 'brand' made it fun to have other stuff to go along with the cards.
So now, when I get a hankering to go for a major change in the blog look, I decide against it since I consider the header a part of who I am as a blogger. The same thing has happened with the avatar I use. I have it attached to everything I can think of to add it too, LibraryThing, GoodReads, Shelfari. My Twitter page is, if I may say so myself, gorgeous, with the avatar and matching colours.

I know there are quite a few bloggers who change their look - and I always notice and enjoy the change - but for me, I'm find with sticking with what is *g*. Especially after dropping a bit of a bundle at VistaPrint. It's amazing how all the free and half price stuff I recently purchased came in with a price *g*.

So here's a few questions. Do you consider your blog header your 'brand'? Do you think it's a good thing to stick with it or do you like change?
Do you have blog business cards? Do you consider them important? If you don't have any, have you considered getting some? Do you ever go for any of the other swag? I love the pens and like giving them out to roomies and other at the conferences etc.

22 comments:

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

I have a blog and a website, and I try to maintain a consistent look between the two, featuring dark backgrounds and vibrant colors. Like you, I maintain both sites myself and my technical skills are limited, so I don't stray too far from my original design, LOL. I write romance/adventure, so my goal is to have the vivid colors portray emotion and excitement.

azteclady said...

I love your heading and I love the magnet--it's one of the few I have on display (on the side of my computer's CPU, on top of the desk)

Not having a blog, I consider my name my "brand"--and the Rita Hayworth picture in my avatar was the only image associated with it for years. Now :grin: I have a banner courtesy of my etsy store (/shameless plug) but I still think of the screen name as my 'brand' such as it is.

Until RWA in DC I hadn't even thought about cards, but now... If I can save enough pennies for Nashville *counting* I'll definitely have cards then.

pattepoilue said...

I'm a creature of habits...i have a hard time changing things. I like when i recognize the blog i am visiting and sometimes bloggers change their layout and header completely every few months and i get lost, i must admit.
I love your header and i think a header is the brand of a blog. Well i'm saying that but mine still doesn't have 'my' brand, for now i have a header but i'm not sure it will stay. I think you could change all you wanted in your blog i wouldn't mind if you kept the header, that's my anchor.

Ohhh i LOVE the 'kiss' mug! And that pen looks SO amazing,i'm a sucker for pens lol

Hilcia said...

I love your header KristieJ, it's both lovely and very distinctive. I can definitely see why you wouldn't want to change it.

My blog has only been around since May and I only got a header in September, so I'm not really attached to it yet. But, I don't know how I'll feel about it by next year. :)

Patti said...

I love your header and understand and agree with your point about brands. I just changed my header, blog look, and avatar...I've been doing this about 6 months and I guess I haven't found "my look" yet so I'm still playing around. But that was one of my worries when I started moving things around is that people wouldn't recognize me.

Wendy said...

I blogged for a couple of years without a distinct "look." I just used the canned Blogger templates. Of course this was back in the day when it was trickier to customize. I eventually shelled out the buck (actually it was extremely reasonable) for a custom design and have been using it ever since. Mostly for the reason that I paid for it, so I might as well keep using it.

Now the logo and avatar have become so recognizable, I'm not sure I could change it. I'd likely have a revolt on my hands. I can't tell you how many people have told me they like my design. So looks like I'm stuck with it :)

I have never done separate business cards for the blog. Mostly because when I'm at conferences I tend to push my librarian persona more - so I pass out Day Job business cards. I have been known to slap the blog URL on the back though using an address label.

Rowena said...

You know, I do see blogs shouted out across blogland and their headers always pop into my head. I love your header and every time I see it, it makes me miss Mailyn! Has anyone heard from her? I tried emailing a few times over the past year or so but I haven't had a response yet. I hope she's well.

I really need to get with the program and order some business cards for myself as well.

Love the Ramblings on Romance goodies Kristie J!

Mollie said...

I always enjoyed changing my blog theme up. I got bored easily and would need a change. Now that I no longer maintain a blog...I just blog hop however, for the most part I'm a lurker. I just read entries via my Google Reader. I'm always surprised when I actually go to comment and someone has changed their theme.

P.S. I just got my copy of N&S back from a friend. Watched it the last couple nights. Forgot how much I loved that story! I think I won the book on your blog forever ago. After watching it I dug it out and it's now on my nightstand to be read ASAP. :)

Kati said...

Hi Kristie - I also have my RoR magnet on my fridge, and yes, I think of your header as your brand.

However, I don't think of mine as my brand. My brand is my URL: Katidom.

But I haven't invested the $$ yet in a look for my brand. I guess I need to do that sooner or later. I also have business cards that I got for RWA, but haven't used at all since then.

Carolyn Crane said...

What an interesting post. I don't think you should change your header, either. I mean, some blogs I don't associate so strongly with headers, but some I do, and I think you have a lot going for you in that one.
And you'll be happy to know, I associate your "brand" with Richard Armitage ! You are my RA pusher, the one who got me hooked! So, where can I get one of those calendars?

Katie Mack said...

When blogs have distinctive headers, like yours, I too think of them as a brand. And I love yours, btw.

I've been blogging for less than two months, so I don't think I'm at the point of having a "brand" yet, and going to a conference is still on my wish list, so no need yet for any cards to hand out.

Whether or not I'll stick with my blog "look" remains to be seen. I did all the technical design myself, and also designed the header (although I purchased the graphic of the woman), so it's obviously something I like the looks of. But I also tend to like change, so it's possible that at some point down the road I'll want something totally different.

orannia said...

I love your header Kristie, and when I see it I think of you :) Hmm. I guess you could always rearrange your blog itself without losing your header if you felt like a spring clean :)

I don't really have branding...my header is text. But I guess I'm still stretching my wings (so to speak). I am going to go and get address labels though, because my hand is very tired from writing my address on the back of Christmas cards :)

CindyS said...

It's like coming to a great place and knowing that you have a chair waiting for you ;) I have always adored your header and the minute I see it I think of all its means.

For me, I haven't had one designed for me so it's more like a 'wallpaper' for me. Something I can change whenever I want. There's a part of me that would love to have one designed but I'm betting I would need 4 for the seasons. As much as I don't like change in the real world, I love it in my online life.

And yum on your pics. Don't know if I have shared but I have a kick-ass picture of Ryan Reynolds on my laptop. I see my hubby look at it every once in a while and think that maybe I should change it to a cuddly kitten ;)

CindyS

Kwana said...

I think it is go to have a consistent look. I have been thinking of a change but will keep by basic header look. And yes, my cards have my blog header on them.

Jessica said...

I love your banner, too. Save one of those business cards for me in Nashville!

The branding question is interesting. I agree that you and Super Wendy and SMTB have very distinctive images associated with your brands, but I don't think DA does, actually. Although I think some blogs, like DA and Teach Me Tonight have very clear identities, I don't associate those identities with any particular image or layout.
I think it can work either way.


I hate my blog name with the passion of a thousand burning suns and only tolerate my banner at this point. But I know the headaches that will ensure if I try to change either one.

BTW, have you seen MeganF's twitter background? Features your fave hottie...

Kristie (J) said...

Lisa: It’s tough when ones technical skills are lacking isn’t it? Though I have come a long way since I first started. And I think it’s good to have consistency between a web site and a blog. It is another way of branding – like in a theme kind of way isn’t it?

AL: Your name is definitely a type of brand *g*. As soon as I see your name – and your avatar, I know you have visited.

Pattepoilue: Speaking from experience, it takes time for some to ‘grow’ into a look they feel suits them. It took a while before I ‘settled’ on the header I have now. I started off with a standard pink Blogger skin, then switched to green. Then I had a skin that was a bit similar to the one I have now and I really loved it – but it lacked a certain pizzazz that the one I have now does.
And isn’t that a gorgeous mug – heh, heh, heh!! I can hardly wait to see if it looks as good in real life as it does in the picture!!

Hilcia: I can say thank you without getting a swollen head as Mailyn, a very talented blogger who left blogland a while ago designed it. And what I said to Patte – I think a lot of times you have to ‘grow into’ a look.

Patti: Again – it takes time to find the look that fits. And these days there are so many more choices then when I first started lo these many years ago. And before I decided to stick with what I wanted in an avatar, I was changing it about every couple of weeks. I love the one I have now and since I’ve matched everything with it, it would take ages to remember where all I have it!

Wendy: I think that’s part of it too – it was trickier to change a few years back. I considered paying to have the header done, but then Mailyn did it for me and I loved it as soon as I saw it.
I do so love yours. It really does ‘capture’ who you are *g*. And I don’t have any work cards – that’s one of the reasons why I wanted some of my own. As you say – you go to the conferences AS a librarian so your business cards work perfectly.

Ro: I miss her too . Hopefully she will come back to us. And the wonderful thing about Vista Print is designing your own. I love doing that kind of thing. And with the latest email they sent, there were lots of free things!

Mollie: I think I could have easily have gotten into the habit of changing it up a lot if I’d known how to do it – but I never quite did figure that out *g*. And I know what you mean, unless one is constantly changing the look, it’s easy to get used to the look of certain blogs and it’s a bit of a jolt when it changes.
And isn’t N&S wonderful the second time around!! If it’s been a while, it’s almost like seeing it for the first time again. And now that you have that recent watching, you will have a wonderful visual of John Thornton for reading the book.

Katie: I think your own 'brand' is whatever you feel that it is - whether it's an URL or a nifty K or whatever sets you apart from the next person. I also think avatars really tell us apart.

CJ: Well I couldn't be more pleased that you associate Richard Armitage with me - heh, heh, heh, - he and me in the same thought!!
And the calendars are real easy to make. Vista Print has quite a few free and reduced stuff. For the calendar there are designs already done, but there is another option where you can add your own pictures. I just grabbed a bunch of screen caps from The Armitage Army and added them. The real fun part is picking the 13 pictures - one for each month and one for the cover. The only drawback is it starts from the month you order it, so the current one I have runs from August to July

Kristie (J) said...

Jessica: LOL - I just checked out her twitter page - very, very nice!! And I'm pretty sure she found him 'cause of me 'encouraging' her to watch North and South. And I included Dear Author 'cause I find their stamp pretty distinctive :) And not only will I have a business card - I'll also have pens!! I have them with two different sayings 1) I have never known any distress that an hour's reading did not relieve and 2) The Greatest Gift is the Passion for Reading. If that isn't enough incentive to go to Nashville, a free KristieJ pen - I don't know what is!! Kwana: I have the two different themes going - the blog banner and the avatar. They are totally different and I love them both. And I think you are right! Consistency is good for recognition. Cindy: I think the key is to have one that you really love. And thank goodness I love the one I have.

Kwana: I think it’s important to be consistent. I have two online ‘looks’. My avatar and everything I use it for and the blog header. They are both different but I love both of them. By keeping the same pattern, we become recognizeable on line.
Cindy: *chuckle* You may change the blog look quite a bit, but I sure recognize your owl. That’s a brand in itself.

Orannia: I've never had address labels before - but hey - they were free *g* I used the avatar for them since a lot of mail I send doesn't have anything to do with the blog and the avatar design is more neutral.

Katie: As I said to a few others, I think for new bloggers or fairly new bloggers, it's sometimes best to wait since everything is so new and it's fun to experiment a bit first. And some bloggers do make a lot of changes so they don't really care about 'branding' their blog.

Cheryl St.John said...

I like changing it up. Though my header is most often one of my own photos or something really "me." I keep the background colors the same between all my sites- blog, website, Twitter, etc. and my actualy brand is From the Heart.

I haven't changed my blog format too much - a little here and thee because I want it to feel familiar when people visit.

I'm getting mega visits right now because I'm holding my annual Great Christmas Tree Tour.

Smooches!

Cheryl St.John said...

tYPOS DON'T COUNT IN BLOG COMMETNS, RIGHT?

Kristie (J) said...

Cheryl: That's absolutely correct! Blog comments are fun and not to worried about *g*
When I first started, I knew absolutely nothing about doing stuff. I didn't even know what HMTL was until about a year in -and while I know what it is now - and can work a very little bit - most of it a foreign language to me. The majority of the changes over the years have been done by other much more knowledgeable people.

Nicola O. said...

I absolutely do think about branding in relation to my blog. Part of it is inspired by a discussion at bookblogs.ning around "blog improvements," and part of it is just that I'm a creature of habit -- I find something I like and I stick with it.

My header photo is one that I took myself, although I admit it was loosely inspired by the look over at AAR.

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