Of course, there are other reasons as well — I really focused on creating as useful content as possible, for example — but branding is what really helped Zen Habits take off so quickly.
When you think of your blog as you would a brand, you have to create a consistent message and have everything you do — on and off the blog — send the same message. And you have to repeat the message as often as possible to your target audience until it’s stuck in their head.
It’s why Pepsi and Coke and McDonald’s and Barack Obama have done so well — they’ve thought about branding and have applied the concepts of branding as well as anyone in history.
Today we’ll look at some of the basic ideas of branding and how you can use them to promote your blog (or book or other business, product or service).
The Mistrust of Advertising Techniques
Now, many of you — like me — might be hesitant to think of your blog or writing as a “product” or anything commercial. That’s natural — you are wary of slick advertising techniques and you would rather focus on great writing and being sincere and real. That’s totally understandable — I’m exactly the same way.
But realize that these advertising techniques work because they understand the way the human mind works. And while you can use these techniques to promote something fake or evil, you can also use them to promote something good. You can use branding and marketing techniques to promote family planning, health education, physical fitness, compassion and charity. It’s used by charities and other good causes worldwide — the best non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross and Unicef use branding techniques.
So using branding doesn’t mean you’re doing anything fake or evil. It just means you’re being smart about promotion.
The Core Message — What It’s All About
Before you do anything — name your blog (or other product/service), write a single post, work on the design, anything — you need to figure out your core message. This is the message you want to send out to your readers/customers in everything you do. This message needs to be communicated in your title, design, content, promotions, and actions.
Here’s how to get started:
1. First, figure out who your target audience is. Who are you trying to help with your blog? Who do you want to attract? It’s good to have a clear picture of exactly who these people are — working parents who have a busy schedule, tight budget, and not enough time for romance? College students not getting enough sleep and on an even tighter budget? Even if you’re going for a pretty broad appeal, it’s still good to get a general idea of who your audience is.