Branding in social media


Brand is one of the most mis-used words in marketing.

Most commonly it’s used to mean visual identity – what a company, organisation or person looks like. But visual identity is only a part of what makes up a brand.

From my time as digital account director at Enterprise IG I like to think about a brand has having three parts:

1) What the brand looks like (the visual identity)

2) What the brand says (the copy, words, and tone it uses)

3) How the brand acts (the actions it takes and the philosophy behind them)

It struck me today about how this definition applies to blogging – because blogs are read in a variety of different contexts, the relative importance of the different aspects of the brand definition changes.

To cut a long story short, the way blog content is delivered means the visual identity is less important than ever before. As a blogger your personal brand is communicated more through what you write and how you act as a blogger – how your site looks is less important than ever before, especially for your audience that reads your RSS feeds.

For example take a recent short post I wrote on my blog. I read my feeds on my Dell Axim X51v PDA using Newsbreak software – this is what the post looks like there – no visual identity elements at all:
PDA screengrab - small

Sometimes I check feeds using Newsgator – again there’s very little branding to visually differentiate my feed content from all the other feeds there:

Newsgator screengrab - small
Yet when I think about how my blog posts are being viewed by my readers, I tend to think of them being seen on my website, with all the visual identity elements that I have on the site:

Website screengrab - small

Checking my blog stats, around 65% of my readers read my blog initially through RSS feeds, and it’s fair to assume that most don’t click through to my site as I publish full content in RSS feeds.

So it’s worth remembering that as a blogger a greater part of your brand perception is formed by what you write and how you act than in most other communications channels.

There aren’t many other channels where the role of visual identity in brand perception is virtually eliminated for many audiences.

A blog is a great way of reaching audiences and shifting perception, but it’s always worth thinking about the brand you’re trying to create, whether corporate or personal, and the brand values you want to communicate.