(the point of the doodles will be made clear at the end)
One of the topics thrown out for discussion by participants in Armchair Book Expo America was that of blog branding. In my mind, I have branded this blog, and so for Armchair BEA I wrote a few thoughts about what that consisted of. And folks seemed interested.
But then Maureen Johnson came out with a manifesto against branding (with regard to authors), the punch line of which was “Don’t shove yourself into that tiny, airless box called a brand—tiny, airless boxes are for trinkets and dead people.”
And I asked myself: “Have I shut myself in a box?”
Then Colleen, at Chasing Ray, posted her thoughts--What It Means To Say "Brand Me," saying (among other thoughtful things) “Whatever I do here couldn't come close to the platform I enjoy at Bookslut (for example). Chasing Ray is just where I go to riff on stuff in an informal way.”
And I said: “But I don’t have a platform other than this blog.”
Pam at MotherReader picked up the conversation: “[Branding] certainly makes it easier for [the publishers] to promote authors and to evaluate bloggers. And I’m not saying that it’s an absolute wrong. But is it good for the bloggers?”
And I said: "We hear a lot about the publishers and the bloggers, and their uneasy relationship, but what about the readers of both books and blogs? Is it good for them, to have blogs that have distinct brands?"
The Greg from Gottabook said in the comments on Colleen’s post, asking “If you don't want anything from publishers, why would a book blogger worry?”
And I said: "but what if I want readers even more than I want arcs?"
In my mind, blog branding means giving one’s blog a distinct flavor, making it a reliably recognizable place. And I don’t really see how that is a bad thing, unless, of course, one’s attentions get so caught up in Brand Maintenance that all joy and spontaneity is lost. It seems like a common sense issue of finding balance.
And it seems to me that if one’s blog does have its distinct personality aka brand, it will attract a larger number of friendly readers. And I, for one, would not want to blog if I didn’t have readers. They give point to the whole enterprise. It’s great to write excitedly about particular books, or to post resource-type information, but why bother if there is no one there? I like to get cool arcs or books from publishers as much as anyone else, but unless I can say to myself that people are actually going to read what I write about those books, I will be uncomfortable.
I am pretty sure my definition of branding and marketing and all is a much more fuzzy thing than it is in the Cold World of Business (the semantics of it all are a little sticky). I am not even sure that other people think that my blog is branded, but I hope it is. Because I want readers to be able to find it, and I think that the identity I have created with some deliberation, and that I work to maintain (in a sane and balanced way, d.v.), helps this happen.
But I am not just a blogger; I am a Reader of Blogs. As such, I can run down my blog roll and taste each blogs own unique qualities (like a wine tasting). Even if a blogger hasn’t set out do so, a blog I find worth revisiting will bear the imprint of its writer’s voice and interest and style and taste—it will have a unique brand.
Just to show that I have taken Maureen's manifesto to heart, and am not dead in a small box, I have followed one of her suggestions ("show your doodles"). These are what happened to be next to the computer. (blushes)