Blog branding continued....plus Playful Doodles to show that I am not dead

(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)


  1. awww, cute doodles. Personally, I don't pay much attention to blog branding...I read all my blogs in a feeder, so I don't even know what a lot of them look like. I am currently working on editing and fiddling with my blog, but really only to make it easier to track my reviews, when I want to go back and see what I said about something...and because I'm doing a mega-clean/organization of our storyroom/storage room and it seemed like a good time to organize things...

  2. Doodles are good! ha! Honestly I think the blog bit is far less significant than the author bit - and the notion (as I write in my post) that an author should be told go brand themselves like someone else. (Ironically in the case I site - like Maureen Johnson!) It just places another burden on a writer and I don't want to deal with it. We seem to have created a beast (so to speak) with the blogosphere that was initially whatever we wanted and now is becoming what others think it should be.

    So yes, doodles and cat pictures must abound, if only to return some sanity to this entire pursuit!

  3. ::snickers::

    I really like the last one.
    (And now, I will not ask you what that's supposed to be. That is very bad form. I know very well it is a peacock.) (Yes? Please tell me yes...)

    Seriously, I haven't had too much time to do more than skim this discussion, but I don't think I CAN be a brand, because I don't ever want to be pigeon-holed. Your blog provides reviews and cheers for a specific genre, but you promote varying books within that genre (fer instance: no zombies 24/7, nor are we overbalanced with unicorns), and also talk about what you don't like - definitely original content there.

    I think you provide a service a lot more than most blogs - and as long as you're having fun, you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing. Never mind the dead-in-a-box thing.

  4. not exactly meant to be a peacock....I just like drawing beaks.

    And I think I need more unicorns......

  5. Cute doodles! Like you, I have a fuzzy definition of branding. I've read Maureen Johnson's manifesto and while I agree with what she said, I also agree with your idea that branding is creating a distinct flavor for your blog (which makes me wonder what you "taste" when you see my blog). I'm a Reader of Blogs and I follow blogs that feature books that I love reading, which are fantasy or YA books. So you do have a point, it makes it easier for readers to know if they want to follow a blog if it's clear what the blog is all about.

  6. I like knowing what a blog is about, especially a book review blog. I tend to read ones consistently that focus on middle grade or YA fantasy, which is what I like to read and write about.

  7. I think, as Colleen says, Maureen is responding more to the pressure on writers these days to be a brand. Seriously, aspiring writers are deluged with this message, as if it's the ONLY WAY anyone will ever read your book. There's a certain amount of trying to define "brand" more widely, but the basic idea is that writers MUST MUST MUST become a brand. I find it all really disturbing, especially the terminology,and I was thrilled to find that Maureen finds it disturbing, too, and has expressed that in such a fun way.

  8. I don't think of your blog as having a brand. Your blog has a personality. Much better for a reader. And while I suppose I mostly visit for the reviews and other bookly goodness, I am not averse to a bit of chat while I am here. Maybe a nice cup of tea and so on.

  9. I'm not sure you've stuck yourself in a tiny, airless box. I think there's a difference between branding and focusing your blog. You don't shout your message around, and yes, while I associate you with sci fi/fantasy, I also know you from the intelligent comments you make on my blog (as well as others). Don't sweat the small stuff. :-D

    And I love your doodles.

  10. I'm trying to think of how to word the difference between "brand" and "voice."

    I know what to expect from certain blogs because I know their voice. And that's different from when I know their "brand."

    Sadly, I can't explain the difference without getting into specifics that would require naming names and being just plain mean.

  11. And now, of course, I am consumed by curiousity....

    Of course (I'm pretty sure it's an of course) the point of authors being presurred to become brands, and blogs working on their own to acquire distincitive voices, are two very different things...one distrubing, the other understandable. I felt the need to revisit the topic, and to clarify my own thoughts for myself, because of having put up my "happy branding" post just a few days before this larger conversation got going.

    And since blogging is not life, nor is my blog me, it really is small stuff, as Melissa said. And the nice thing about reading is that if something has become too much a Brand, and too little a meaninful, organic thing, one doesn't have to read it!


Free Blog Counter

Button styles