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Present a Consistent Brand in Your Blogging

In this video post I reflect upon the one of the downsides of changing your blog’s brand and/or design.

While updating blog design, logos and avatars in social media sites can bring a lot of life to a blog and present you with an up to date and fresh web presence – one of the negatives is that you can actually stop the momentum that you might have already created with your previous branding.

This is a lesson that applies when thinking about blog design but also even the simple avatars you choose for your Twitter and other social media profiles.

I’m interested to hear your experiences of both how changing your online ‘branding’ has led to confusion but also how you would suggest bloggers do it in a way that builds upon previous branding.

This post was brought to you by Business Week Exchange.

PS: sorry for the audio quality on this video. I recorded it in a public space and there was a little too much background noise.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Tim Bowden says:

    This post could not have come at a more perfect time. I started a blog last month on the subject of iWeb as a friend donated an old iBook to me. I enjoyed using iWeb but felt it could do more and started to investigate. There aren’t to many sites dedicated to it so I started my own. As I felt I didn’t know enough about iWeb just yet to do it in that I used WordPress. Lately though I have received a few e-mails asking why I am not using iWeb to create a site on the subject of iWeb.

    So I am in the process of re-creating the site in iWeb and was planning on running the 2 at the same time (perhaps with one or two more tutorials on the newer site as an incentive to visit that one instead of the WordPress one). One of the troubles with iWeb though is the lack of theme support (I will have to stick with an original iWeb one) so I can’t produce an exact copy of my original site thus leading to a change in style. I too would be interested to see how (or if) people have gone about branding changes.

    I think running the two together until the visits to the iWeb site far outweighs the WordPress site is the way forward and as long as I ‘big up’ the newer site visitors should keep coming back.

  2. We are definitely visual creatures. I just noticed the other day that an adsense add had changed on my sidebar. It had been the same add for a few weeks now and I stopped noticing it fairly early on. But when it had changed it was like that section of my site had just been re-born. My eyes were drawn to it. So change is good for adds, but I agree that it is bad for branding. You want your adds to draw attention, but you want your branding images to feel familiar.

  3. Ryan McLean says:

    Well I recently changed my brand (and domain name) from foolswealth.com to smarterwealth.net
    This was a MASSIVE change for me. Not so massive because my blog wasn’t huge and I didn’t even have a solid template or solid brand design.
    So it is hard, but a move I had to make because foolswealth just wasnt representing who I was and the message I wanted to display.
    So for me this was a good thing about branding myself. It keeps me up to date and fresh and allows me to tell my friends my blogs name without having to explain why it is called “foolswealth”.
    Thanks for the video post. I will be branding myself a lot more now that I have a solid blog with a solid name and domain name

  4. rear wheel says:

    Branding is important to show our product..
    I don’t use twitter..
    Maybe next time…

  5. L-Jay says:

    I have a question…
    My husband and I both write for our blog – we are developing our ‘brand’ together but having two voices seems to make it difficult, especially for online identity and social media interaction. How can we keep our own identities and develop our ‘brand name’ without confusing people?

    Cheers

  6. Wayne Liew says:

    It’s like Adidas using two stripes instead of three all of a sudden and Nike changed its logo to a cross. People are not just visual creatures, they don’t welcome a change as well.

    A blog theme which is frequently changing can confuse readers and cause frustration.

    On the flip side, a change, if done well, can lead to ripples around the niche and bring in more traffic.

    Wayne
    http://www.affboom.com

  7. SEO Genius says:

    Very important message to put across there, i do to agree that brand awareness is as important online as it is offline if not more important due to the lack of images/branding that people find online you may be forced to make assumptions or create your own image of what there business/blog depicts.

    By the way it sounded like someone was fencing in the background :D

  8. Lisa Irby says:

    Great points. I used to change my picture on forums, my sites, etc. all the time, but I’ve decided to use the same photo for everything as it’s part of my branding.

  9. Great post Darren…and very relevant.

    I recently changed my entire theme and feel for my blog. My logo stayed the same, but EVERYTHING else looks different.

    Here are my results…

    - Pageviews increased and stayed stable (increasing)
    - More unique visitors (and increasing)
    - More comments

    I have exact stats, but I don’t think that is relevant here. What is relevant is that the stats rose and then stayed stable.

    That tells me two things:

    1 – My previous blog design looked great but was very inefficient for the reader. The pages loaded slower and the content was harder to find. This made deeper viewing harder than with the current theme.

    2 – The code on the new theme is much cleaner. A lot of my new unique’s came from search engines.

    So there are two sides to the coin. In my case, it helped out tremendously without changing my branding (logo). I will be interested to see where it goes from here…but for now I am really happy with the results.

    The flip side to this is getting so obsessed with design/SEO/etc. that you aren’t focusing on content during that time. There is a balance.

  10. BusyBlogging says:

    It’s hard to measure what the impact is when you change (update) your brand since you can never isolate the effects appropriately.

    In the online world when changing your brand (and probably updating your theme), make sure you aren’t adding significant code into your html pages. From experience, it could confuse Google and will mess up the rankings for a couple weeks as Google tries to figure out what the updated site is about.

  11. I have worked to keep my branding very consistent both in my blog and all my other online interactions — though it definitely helps that I am a graphic designer who does branding for a living. One of the reasons my branding has worked is that I had a goal for my blog from the beginning. I knew what I wanted to accomplish, so I knew where I wanted to start. I designed my logo before I even thought about what my header was going to look like, and carried the colors and elements of the logo throughout my site design, my Entrecard, etc. I mostly use my photo as my avatar, though sometimes I use the icon from my logo.

    Many bloggers believe that all they need is a header. That can be true if you are running a personal blog or never plan to monetize. But if you want your blog to become your business, having a logo that you can use elsewhere (business cards, t-shirts, e-Books, etc.) will give you a great place to start in terms of creating a consistent brand.

  12. Yanik says:

    My blog has only been online for 5 months now and 3 months in when traffic was staring to pick up, I decided to do 2 very important things to get my brand out there and have it consistant so that people would know right away that it was me.

    1- I got a domain name and went from http://www.image-y.com/blog to http://yanikphotoschool.com and changed the name of my blog at the same time fro Yanik’s Photo Blog to Yanik’s Photo School so that people knew that coming here meant they would be learning about photography.

    2- Get my logo. To keep my photography branding consistent with my main website logo, I kept the “Y in the red box” part of my logo to create my blog’s logo. I also kept the “Y in the red box” and used it as my avatar pretty much everywhere on the web. :)

  13. Candi Sparks says:

    I am new to this stuff, but have worked in intellectual property and trademarks for a long time…. It would seem logical to me that the important thing to remember is to keep certain elements consistent and then “freshen” other items to keep it moving… For example – you keep your slogan constant but update your logo (or visa versa)… people who know you have to be able to find you. Also, if keywords and meta tags remain constant, but are placed alongside or associated with newer material, the loyal following will recognize you… and the newer people will be attracted to you.

    Here are my branding issues. My kids book series on money is Can I Have Some Money? My site is: http://www.can-i-have-some-money.com and my topic is kids and money. Do you know how hard it is to get to the top of the seaches when the topic is money? LOL. Also, my author name is Candi Sparks. Which happens to be the name of another lady who is using her web cam ‘a certain wa’, and gets a ton more hits than me! So I always try to reference “Can I Have Some Money?” by Candi Sparks to avoid confusion, or do it with the title and use the words (or tags) Kids money books, etc. to brand, and avoid confusion.

    I hope that this has helped someone…..

    Candi

  14. PT says:

    Back when I had my entrecard logo designed I ended up requesting a smaller version to be used for twitter, SU, and other social media, as well as in comments. I think it’s helped tremendously. People quickly know it’s PT from Prime Time Money.

    Still, it’s not a photo of me. It’s a logo. Should I switch to using a photo? How do you balance putting your face out there vs. using a logo to brand?

  15. Stopping any momentum you had can really hurt. Momentum is huge and breaking it can get you to even lose readers.

  16. Margaret says:

    Great post–my husband and I have been arguing about my blog for a week. I love updating the header and tweaking with my layout, but my husband always warns me that my little “improvements” might actually deter readers.

    I have an art history blog, and I tend to think of “branding” as being as important as it is to someone writing on a more commerical topic, but I’ve been learning that this just isn’t the case. Whatever subject you write on, you have take your readers into account and let them “in” as much as possible on changes to your template, etc.

  17. I recently changed my blog’s design and I thought long and hard before I did it. Even though I’ve only been blogging since March, I worried that the change would freak people out. I read another blog that is constantly changing in appearance, I keep coming back because I want to support the blogger but I get startled (literally jump back a little in my seat!) every time I click over to her blog and it looks different than I expected. So I knew that if I made a change to my blog, I was going to have to make all the changes I wanted to make at one time and then leave it alone.

    The reason I changed my own blog’s design is that it really didn’t suit me or my personality, and didn’t send the message I wanted to send about myself. So I found a template that was much better suited to who I am, but I kept the color and design of the blog header so readers could recognize that it was still “me.” And for the first week after I made the change, I had a message at the top of the blog acknowledging that I had changed the design and explaining why, so readers would know that there was a reason behind the change.

    So far, so good – I don’t cringe every time I look at my own blog now, and I hope others like it as well!

  18. I was surprised to find this post on the front page of Problogger because just a few days ago, I changed the header on my website. I have been fretting over it, afraid it might be too feminine to attract and keep the attention of my male readers. I did several things to tone down the femininity and had finally decided to be happy with it because it appeals to me so much personally.

    Now, I’m rethinking all over again. I think I need to go back to my very first header which was extremely gender neutral and focused on photographs of some of the food from my site.

    I’m really glad I read this, even if it does bring my fretting to life once more. I’ll have a more successful website because of it.
    Thank you,
    Christy

  19. Mike Nichols says:

    I have found that they way your site looks plays a large determining factor in how the reader perceives it.

    I started my blog about Anxiety Disorders with a dark theme. Many people liked it and found it in keeping with the subject.

    However, I changed to Thesis, a very simple, bright theme, and immediately I started retaining more first time visitors, the comments more than doubled, and readership has almost tripled.

    Just by my site’s brand’s “look!”

    I have considered changing the avatar that I use everywhere to a more up-to-date photo, but I have been reluctant to do so due to the very branding considerations you mention.

    Thanks for another great video!

  20. Jessica Bond says:

    Consistent image is important in building market awareness. The challenge for the new blogger is that you constantly ask yourself have you selected the “right” image. This is a real dilemma.

  21. Interesting video post Darren.

    When I started blogging in 2005, I wanted to be the person that people trusted. I wanted people to associate the blog to me. I am finding now that I am moving away from ‘me’ and more towards a brand.

    So it’s more a ‘we’ now. It’s a difficult move to make, but in the long-term it’s a move I think I need to take.

  22. Jess says:

    I agree.. I think consistancy is important. Ever since I created a brand for my site it has become a lot more popular. Even though my design is a bit raw I’m hesitant to change it cause I don’t want to deter people.

  23. Branding has always been a priority for me, and while I vary my sites theme and style a little from time to time I keep the colour scheme and imagery much the same, and make small changes.

    I decided early on that a vector caricature of myself would present a consistant (and scalable) verison of myself to the web, and provide the permanancy that personal photos don’t do (My cartoon me, doesnt age!)

    Fiona Fell
    The Profit Maximising Web Geek

  24. egbsystems says:

    I think branding is very important to make our product or our service popular among the public.
    Branding can be done by publishing ads. This will reach the audience.

  25. Drew says:

    I’m glad to have read your post about the negative effects of changing one’s blog design. One of my blogs offers free blog templates which I designed myself. Although I like designing a lot, I must admit I’m new to this kind of thing, so I try to study a lot about the ins and outs of blog designing. Your post has helped me realize a lot of things. Thank you very much!

  26. J.D. Meier says:

    I think the more consistent you are with your values and your intentions, the more consistent you end up with your brand. It helps to be your authentic self.
    (… says the guy who moved from blogspot to wordpress and lost all his subscribers in the move ;)

  27. My problem is I am one of those people who like constantly change designs. I have been able to calm it down a bit lately with the lack of time I have, but I still like new and fresh designs on my blogs.

  28. charles says:

    The problem destroyed my search engine traffic momentum. I realized that chaging the design had destroyed my image on search engines. The first time i changed my blog design. Google search engine never gave me traffic.

  29. Angel Cuala says:

    I totally believe in what you have said, Darren. I therefore think that if you should decide that you will change your avatar, logos and themes; you must inform your readers beforehand so they won’t be surprise and confused when they see the changes. In fact, it is better if you ask suggestions from them before doing so.

    Before I started my WP blog, I made a post about it on my blospot blogs and inform them that I will be using my real name instead of username. So when I launched it about 2 months ago, my not-so many regular followers of my blospot blogs also followed me on my WP blog and they were even happy about it.

    But I still suggest that we should be consistent as possible.

    By the way, I love your hair so you do not have to change anything.

  30. Workplace says:

    All losers care to change their blog designs rather than focusing on their content and backlinks.

  31. drBlogz says:

    Branding is important . It make your website unique and different from each other. It also tell the reader you are serious in what u doing. For me, i like to put anime because it is easy to design.

  32. It’s incredibly important to have something that people can identify them with, especially if they have various projects. Just having that logo in the sidebar that identifies that this is your blog.

    It may be hard, especially if you’re not much of a designer to make your site look different, but just changing the font on a standard WordPress theme can set you apart.

  33. nemo says:

    So how do you make the change?

    I try to change my personal look every artshow I have and i plan to change my picture on my blog alot too. I am new to blogging so I want to know is that a sin?

    I feel like it could help people grow with me is that wrong?

  34. Content isn’t everything. When it comes to SEO and targeting a competitive set of keywords, google hires analysts to visually look at sites that have the highest quality and rank them higher.

  35. Ryne Nelson says:

    Nemo brings up a good point – surly there’s a need to make a change every now and again. The key point, to me, is you can make the changed, but not very often. Put a lot of thought into any major image change, and tell yourself you’re going to stick to it.

  36. SuperPenguin says:

    This is a very important topic because you don’t want to steer away from what originally started you blogging in the first place, because more then likely it is more important then going in a different direction.

    Very good post, short and sweet and to the point. Nice video too.

  37. I am not that expert in blogging. I have just started blogging with a site about jokes and humor.But i agree that back links are important for any blogs success more then pagerank.

  38. CoolProducts says:

    When starting up, one may get greater resources to create a better overall image for one’s brand and even though it may alienate a few people with each change, I feel that the benefits would definitely outweigh the negatives. However, once one’s brand has been established and does have a strong following, I feel that one maybe should consult their followers with polls, etc to see what “the peoples” opinion is. Bringing them into the decision process may help them to adapt to the change as well as offer feedback that may help benefit/improve the ideas one has had.

  39. Dan says:

    What tools or metrics are available to help measure the impact or reach of your online brand? There is Alexa or Google or Compete to tell us how our website is doing, but I cross-post at many different blog sites and have often wondered that even though those readers did not visit “my” site to read the post, they were exposed to my brand. I can do a broad Google search on my brand name, but is there anything more exact that measures brand awareness and growth? (short of buying a 6-figure study from Nielsen, etc.)

  40. Hey Darren, just wanted to say thanks for the video post. I have learned more things n this blog than anywhere else when it comes to blogging. Keep up the great work with this blog man.

  41. Stephen says:

    Darren, a topic I used to struggle with and continued with some topics just for the moolah. I wasn’t happy.

    Changing your image through your blog may ‘shock’ or even alienate some of your readers, but from time to time, there is something about us that wants to change and grow.

    But I’d rather grow rather than get stuck with something I really dislike. But also, I don’t want to lose customers or readerships. Just as the buyers, I still want my freedom to choose.

    So my strategy would be one of slowly turning my topic/s to the way I want it to be. It’s like evolution. But I’m sure the regular readers will appreciate it and besides, what’s wrong with capturing a new or wider market?

  42. parviz says:

    Thanks for the video post.Practically I never thought about branding my blog. the reason for updating the look of my blog is to make it more accessible and surf friendly.
    to what I am doing I have little idea how to brand it.
    so let us know, how !?

  43. Hi Darren

    I also have some experience with brand changing. When I moved Starfeeder unto the GameRiot network, I had a major look change overall and of course url change as well. Starfeeder.com to starfeeder.gameriot.com but the original url of course still re-directs.

    A lot of people in my community were confused to the overall move as I was now on a subdomain and they felt it was a bad move for me, however my traffic has since tripled and I have been able to get my articles seen by a wider already pre-existing audience. It has kind of given me more of an authority by being on a larger network, also there is a new design rolling out that looks fantastic and am looking forward to catching new reader with just the new theme over all.

    I have experience downsides, lost some readers that did not want to re-register, on the previous version of starfeeder, users did not have to register to comment, while gameriot requires registration. Also activity in my forum is lower now, however I think these are just temporary downsides.

    I am looking forward to more growth and more great articles on Problogger.net :)

    - Lipton

  44. Ryan McLean says:

    I am soon going to get a brand design created for my blog (when I can afford it) and I believe this will help to brand me even more

  45. Saurabh says:

    Great video post!

  46. Hey Darren,
    Sorry if you’ve covered this in the past… would you mind sharing what kind of video equipment you use for your videos?

    Thanks!

  47. film fan says:

    changing the look and feel of your blog could be a good thing, if it makes the blog more visibly appealing/easy to understand

  48. Darren Rowse says:

    Justin – check out this post – hope it helps.

  49. Alex says:

    Hi Darren,

    I hear what you are saying and totally agree.

    I use the same logo, theme and look to all branding I do on my saving money website;

    http://www.savingsguide.com.au

    This has helped me attract private advertisers more frequently plus retain readers who are drawn to the style/layout of my blog and the posts I make.

    It is also very important that you structure posts with proper H1,h2 and H3 tags as then the reading experience compliments your blog design.

    Please check out my blog when you can and drop me a comment, cheers mate!

  50. Mel Menzies says:

    I guess brand can be defined by style as well as image? My style is usually fairly serious – though I do have a sense of humour. I began a competition at the beginning of the month, titled ’5 Things I’d Like To Do Before I Die’. It was inspired by Dave Freeman’s book 100 Things To Do Before You Die. It was topical in that the author died recently aged 47.

    To begin with, true to my nature, I made a serious request for people to leave a comment on the 5 things they’d like to do before they died. No response. I tried again. The third time, I blogged saying that I was sorry, but I’d have to become sergeant-majorish. And the fourth time, departing completely from my usual style, I affected a childish and petulant style, stamping my foot and threatening to cry. Result – 8, no 9 comments in hours.

    Not many you might think. But I’ve only just begun. And I’m over the moon. Because despite my stats showing a goodly number of new and returning visitors, these are the first comments I’ve ever received. Just shows that a change in brand, or style, can serve a useful purpose.
    Mel Menzies http://www.melmenzies.co.uk