6 thoughts on “Cutting to the Chase – What is the Brand of this Blog?

  1. Hi Ryan,

    You pose yet another interesting question. I’m having a similar, if less consciously articulated, problem with my own blog. I started out simply documenting cases and sharing some of the challenges I faced developing my health information service, but more and more I find myself wanting to write about ideas that are relevant to what I do. This change, what I choose to write about, is happening intuitively and hopefully it makes sense to the handful of people who read my posts!

    Branding seems to be about audience. But I wonder which comes first? Does who reads it depend on how you brand it, or the other way around? In any case blogging is fluid. It needs to evolve, and to shift focus periodically, in order to remain vital and relevant.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about your cultures clashing. As long as what you write makes sense to you- a librarian who “participate[s] in the broader world of IT, blogging, local networks and so on,” then what you write will probably be relevant to both camps. Maybe not every post will appeal to both groups, but that’s ok.

    FF

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  2. Good question, Ryan. I have been thinking the same thing about my blog, where I’m posting library-related things a few times a month, but might post more frequently if I gave myself permission to write about other things.

    It’s likely that we are overthinking this. I look at Dorothea Salo’s Caveat Lector, which is a very important blog to read if you are interested in Open Access, but the “brand” is “stuff Dorothea Salo cares about.” She writes about her cat, her choir, whatever, but since she does it with a distinctive voice, it works. Author John Scalzi’s Whatever is similar. Read it for a month and you know the kind of thing he’s likely to write about, but it’s not any one thing.

    In short, the brand is you (how is that for social media yahoo-speak?). If you bring the same smarts and voice to Halifax stuff that you do to library stuff, I’ll still read it (or at least skim it).

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  3. Interesting timing. Two days before flying off to Denver, I sent in my May 2009 “disContent” column for EContent Magazine–with the title “I am not a brand, I am a free man” (with explicit apologies to Patrick McGoohan).

    I guess you need to decide whether being a brand is important to you, or whether it’s more important to be able to be flexible and growing. The same goes for the blog. Fortunately, I never had to make that choice–by the time “the brand of Me” became a popular (if, in my opinion, meretricious) theme, I’d already changed directions (in my life, in Cites & Insights, in my other writing) too often to even *contemplate* branding.

    So, you know, I guess I’m agreeing with Francesca. If you’re a person with a growing and changing set of personal and professional interests, this blog could usefully reflect that shifting persona. That way lies vitality and humanity, if perhaps not Brand Success.

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  4. Hi Ryan, thanks for the Twitter add.

    The way I balance writing for libraries and writing for a larger audience is to write about tech in a general way, and how I use that particular bit of tech to support what I do in the library.

    For example, I wrote a post a while back installing Ubuntu on a Mac using the VMWare Fusion Windows emulator software. I wrote it with librarians who are a little afraid of tech in mind, but it is written in such a way that anyone who is interested in the subject will find it useful.

    Another way I’ve built my “brand” (although I’m reluctant to think of it as such) is to participate in larger discussions on social media websites. Friendfeed is a good source for that, because the techy folks get to see a techy librarian who can speak their language, while the librarians can see how easy it can be to interact with techy people.

    Francesca is right on the money when she says branding depends on your audience. If you know you want to attract a more general audience, write more generally. Good luck!

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  5. Thanks for the comments. I think also I am challenge by the presumption that people in marketing etc. might be thinking about this blog in the context of “brand” versus other things.

    Another thing I notice is that I want to blog less because I am Twittering more. Twitter is my opportunity to “get real” a little more and I’m finding it now more difficult to actually think about a topic and blog it in a way that’s meaningful.

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  6. “These days, my interest lies in the broader group of people.”

    You know, it’s interesting. I was feeling the exact same way after my experiences with Podcamp Ohio. But I lost interest in what one might call the cult of social media very quickly. It’s like a larger version of the same kind of echo chamber, but with less direct importance to my life. So I’m back to hiding in my little librarian shell, for the most part.

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