These days, it is common knowledge that branding is an essential tool for building a successful, sustainable enterprise -- but what does that mean if your business is you? To answer this question, I scoured the land of independent-publishers-turned-savvy-branders to ask the best of the business to share their insights on what it takes to create and sustain their successful brands.
As many of you know, well-executed branding can ensure a consumer chooses your product over all others, though the others may be incredibly similar. The classic example of this is the powerful brand of Coke. People around the world choose Coke over other types of cola, which taste virtually the same due to one single differentiator: branding. Coke has perfected its brand over a century by ensuring its products stand for consistency and enjoyment while visually being equated to these feelings. The results of its successful branding can be seen today, where Coke is reportedly recognized by 94 percent of the world's population.
In the past few years we've seen the explosion of personal blogs. In fact, WordPress keeps a handy counter on its website that shares the number of WordPress sites in the world -- its count is up to 73 million. And that is just one -- albeit the largest -- platform. Many of these voices are clambering for the same audience and must look to branding as a key differentiator that will help them stand out in a crowd.
The challenge for most publishers is that the process of branding can feel uncomfortable because you're spending lot of time thinking about yourself rather than your audience. Most publishers I know would much rather think about their audiences' interests, their next blog posts, or how to improve their photography -- not what their personal brands mean. But most are motivated to overcome these fears of self-promotion once they understand the tremendous benefits of branding. Effective branding means readers will choose to follow a specific blog over all others and, to that blogger, this can mean lasting success.
But what does effective branding entail? I had in-depth conversations with some of the savviest publishers on the web, and here are some of the common themes I heard from them.