There are many ways to think about your brand, both personal and business. Consider a big brand, such as Tide (the detergent). We hold associations about what it is, how it accomplishes its task, and how it’s positioned relative to the market. The same is true about every brand, product, service, business and person we encounter.
In the past, brand building was a difficult and expensive process that relied on advertising or pursuing difficult to get (and harder to control the messaging of) earned media (e.g. articles written about you in the press).
But now, with everything ranging from social media feeds to the ability to publish a book at will on Amazon to publishing regularly via a blog, you hold the power to craft your brand bit by bit. You’re in control of the messaging and can shape your brand and raise your profile without cost: instead, you need to focus on strategy and execution. Here are five ways that you can use blogging to build your brand in the immediate future.
1. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your space: There comes a point in every career where successful people start to aspire to be “thought leaders.” While it’s often unclear what that really means, the goal to be an opinion maker and teacher of the next generation. Sometimes we’re motivated by the desire for fame, and notoriety. Whatever the call, in order to be a thought leader two things must be true.
First, we must have a message, an original contribution to make to our discipline, or at least an interesting repackaging of critical ideas. Two, we must share those ideas – over and over and over, with an ever growing platform. Blogging is a great way to do this. Decide what you want to say, and then consistently say it. Explore different aspects of your message….but write, write, write. Post regularly, as consistency is key to building your brand through blogging.
2. Test and refine your message: Connected with the above, your blog is the place where you can begin to clarify, test, and refine your message. Once you’ve achieved velocity with step one, share the pieces you write. This does two critical things. The first is that it builds your audience, which helps you achieve your ultimate goal of brand building.
The second is that it removes you from the vacuum – you now are able to find out how people are reacting to your message and see what else they’d like to hear. This helps you expand and refine your message, improve how your present your material, and ultimately increases perceptions of quality associated with your brand.
3. Reach new audiences by guest posting: As you become comfortable with your message and the process of blogging, you can further build your brand by taking your writing on the road. Guest post for other blogs in your space, co-blog on association blogs in your industry, or contribute meaningful articles to online publications from Entrepreneur to Good Housekeeping.
Figure out where your audience goes online, read the relevant blogs, and then think about posts that fit those blogs that would deliver incredible value. Pitch the blogs, and then spend as much time as you need to hit them out of the park. Not only will this increase your brand by associating it with other high value brands, it will get your message in front on new people and help cultivate relationships with influencers in your field.
4. Attract customers and solve customer service problems via FAQs: Another way to build your brand through blogging is by writing directly to your customers. One mistake that many people make is writing articles specifically for their peers, rather than for potential customers. Let’s take a simple example: a car repair shop.
The idea here, if you want to build your reputation in your community, is to consider what information people typically look for. Writing this creates evergreen content that people will refer back to, and that will help new people find you via search engine results.
As a blogger for a car shop, great blogs might be “How to get the best deal on an oil change?” “How to determine if a car is totaled?” and “When do I need to replace my brake pads?” These may not be sexy titles, but they will definitely resonate with your potential customers and build you up in their minds as knowledgeable and helpful people they want to do business with.
5. Own the discussion around your product, service, or yourself: Blogging is a great way to decide and then share what you want people to know. In the past, you had to rely on media to tell your story, if they told it at all.
From the backstory of why you started your business to the strategic choices you’ve made over the competition to better serve your customers, your blog is a great way to highlight and package these stories for everyone from customers, to peers in your field, to media searching for commentators and experts for stories. Think about what parts are unique to your story and then dive in, and find a way to get them out there on your blog. This will reinforce your efforts to convey a carefully crafted brand image.
So when your goal is to build your brand, blogging is one way that you can begin immediately that doesn’t require a massive investment or significant resources. The keys are to determine your message, write consistently, find other outlets for your material, and make sure you’re writing to the audience you want to reach.