So I want to share a little story about my brand. This brand. Where we’ve been. Where we’re going. And what’s coming in 2016.
A Little Story about a Little Brand
Every year (truly, every 6 months), I revisit the branding on this site (my blog). I look at what I’ve written about, what I want to talk about, and where I need to take the conversation to get between the two.
And each time I refine exactly what this space is all about.
If you’ve been reading here a while, you know that, generally, I write about the same topics: living well, memory keeping, overcoming challenges, yoga, wellness, and making small improvements to my home, my health, and myself. And that, generally, I have the same message: self-care, making time for yourself, setting goals, making things happen, developing a hobby, investing in your body, your mind, and the food you eat.
Truly, I’m passionate about self-improvement and finding the best life for myself (and my family).
But that can be too general. And too non-specific. And too open.
And it’s the opposite of what brand strategists will tell you about building a brand. They’ll say – you need a niche, to be a subject matter expert, to have predictability, to be concise.
And yet – I couldn’t let go of the subjects that I talk about, the feeling, the vibe, the sentiment of this space. So I continued on. And assumed that, as I go, I’ll refine. I’ll get closer. I’ll figure it out.
And I am getting closer.
If you want to read more on the story of this space, how it has changed, and see the progression, click here.
Four Steps: My Annual Brand Review
And every time I go through this brand-inquiry/brand evaluation process, I do the same few exercises, which I’m sharing here because it’s a relevant and useful exercise for a lot of people, especially if you are a blogger, small business owner, or independent consultant.
Start with the Front Page
The landing page of your website is your business card. Your first impression. Your chance to give a person the flavor and feeling of what you’re all about.
My front page needed a little tweaking – starting with the banner and logo. You see, I love the look of handwritten words (something you’ll see more of this year), but I’ve always felt like the name of this blog is a little hard to read in my handwriting. So I moved and switched some things around and came up with this new banner.
You’ll also notice that there’s something new to my banner: an updated tag line.
I’m slightly obsessed with it.
For a long time I’ve played around with using three key words or a short phrase to summarize the focus of this space. And while I have come close a few times (in pursuit of everyday joy was the most recent one), I never felt like they captured the depth to which I write or the actionable projects that I’m always working on.
The words “it’s your life. it’s your story. make it a best seller.” get a lot closer. Not just to where I’ve been in this space, but where we’re going in this space, and in my other brands.
Which leads me to the next exercise…
It’s amazing how different my understanding of my “map” looks each time I do this exercise. Usually it’s more like a cloud, with one word surrounded by SO MANY other words, ideas, and subjects. Sometimes it looks like a multilateral corporate structure, with so many branches and wings, it’s unclear what’s happening.
But this year, it’s all different. With a strong focus in two branches: yoga and memory keeping, and full, established businesses in both, it’s much easier to distribute my thoughts and ideas. It’s easier to focus on what I’m doing, where I’m going, and how to get there. It’s easier to decide what is a priority, and what is a supporting need.
And the brands within those branches are fully independent, but all of them tie back here, in this space where I ramble and share and organize and express.
Audit: What’s Missing
In the last stage of this review, I look at one or two of my favorite blogs. I take notes on what I love most about them and what I would like to see on my page.
It’s always slightly random. Sometimes I’m more interested in cohesive branding. Sometimes I want to see elements that make up a page. Sometimes I’m looking at banners. Sometimes I’m looking at how to organize large pockets of information.
Today’s audit brought me Elise Blaha Cripe‘s page, specifically, because I wanted to check out her banner and how she organizes all of her projects. Honestly, I just love her. But I appreciate also that she has branched out her business in some really smart ways. Seeing how she expands and takes on new things has been thinking about how I’ll add my own new projects this year.
In just a few minutes, I had some great ideas on exactly what I need to do to update my page and I’m excited to get started with those changes.
Make a list
I’m a HUGE fan of planners, friends! Huge fan. Always have been. In fact, I’m a little disappointed that I arrived so late to this idea of decorating and displaying your planner as a form of memory keeping. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a story for another day, friend!)
This year I’m using the Get To Work Book® which has proved to be phenomenally helpful to organize my thoughts, set monthly goals, check in on those goals, and get inspired to keep going. It’s not my only planner, but also a critical piece of building my online brand, keeping myself organized, and working through daily (never-ending) to-do lists.
For this exercise, I set up a list of things to do, which included all of the steps to do this annual brand mapping exercise. Once I finished all of the main tasks, I added a small list of check-box items that I’ll work on this week. Whatever I don’t get to, I’ll highlight, and place on the list for the following week.
Completing my to-do’s is a constant battle of prioritization and re-prioritization. The lists rarely ever get finished, but the important ones ALWAYS do.
So here’s to a new year, friends! New plans. A new banner. And some more new features coming to the navigation and side bar of this blog. Check back here regularly to see the changes as they take place!