Two Steps to Developing Your Brand

Last Christmas, my sister and brother-in-law bought me a web domain. Then, like most good Christmas presents, I promptly forgot about it for over a year.

But in February — when my hosting company politely reminded me that I needed to renew my subscription plan — I started thinking about it again, and decided that I wanted to do something with this amazing gift. I’d already helped launch a number of client websites at this point; designing my own struck me as a no-brainer.

False start.

So, I launched danielcrogers.com, a lifestyle blog, wherein I’d cover anything and everything I felt compelled to talk about — from my apartment remodel and current music crushes, to my thoughts on movies, TV, and fashion. It would be something of a hodgepodge, but it would be my hodgepodge.

Except, shortly after writing a particularly lengthy post recanting my exhausting adventures in interior wall painting (NEVER AGAIN), I stopped blogging for solid three months. I had never responded well to other blogs that attempted to talk about everything their authors thought about, as they often feel scattered and unfocused. Yet, when I’d started my own blog, this was exactly what I did. Not cool.

It was then I realized I’d committed the most egregious sin a blogger (or a company) can make: my blog was brandless. With no prevailing theme dialed in, the scope was too vast. I got too overwhelmed and bailed.

Identifying your brand (two key steps)

I came crawling back, though. This time, with fresh eyes, new perspective, and enough free time to pay it proper attention. I decided I would gut the whole thing and completely reboot my blog — this time under a new, branded URL: thefilmscholar.com. Here’s how I did it.

1. Ask yourself the big question.

Once I made the decision, I holed myself away for an entire weekend, and spent time answering one very important question: 

What topic do I want to explore more than anything else?

For businesses, this question might look more like:

What product or solution do I offer, and to whom?

I have numerous passions and interests, but I finally narrowed it down to one area in particular: film. I am a film fanatic. Seriously, I have encyclopedic knowledge of movies, actors and directors. Try me.

Focusing on what you know and love is a good start, but I saw that choosing to explore film as my main theme had some other advantages, too.

2. Figure out all of the angles.

Whether in personal or business branding, once you’ve identified your overarching theme (or themes), a good next step is to try to see it from every angle. This kind of brainstorming strategy will help you determine how you’ll create content around your theme.

In my case, I considered all of the ways I could explore the world of film. Film, unlike television (or fashion, for that matter), has some pretty clear boundaries on length and options. But the amount of television (and fashion) readily available to me at any given moment is vast and almost overwhelming. Film projects tend to feel like tentpole events (even if they’re not), which is perfect for me, because I get to tap into the cultural zeitgeist without feeling overburdened by too much information. I do have a day job, after all.

Speaking of work — film is also a perfect fit, because it allows me to approach a (nearly) universal topic of discussion from two areas of my expertise: product marketing and literary analysis. I can speak knowledgably about prevailing themes and motifs in the same space where I break down how a movie’s marketing strategy could have worked harder. It’s utilizing my analytic brain, while giving me a chance to flex my creative muscles.

Among the other winners in my long list of possible content angles, is coverage of the biz of managing films (like budgeting and making creative decisions), as well as some screenplay analysis.

Take your time.

There’s a big difference between starting a blog for the sake of having one, versus creating a blog that’s focused and intentional. Figuring out what to hone in on can take a lot of time — or it can come to you in a few minutes of self-reflection.

For me, both we’re true: I quickly realized I wanted to blog about film more than anything else, but it took me a while to decide exactly which angles to cover. (Though, to be fair, I’m still honing my voice and my subject material.)

Remember: there’s a reason companies take several months to roll out new websites. Dialing in all the new information, finding your voice, properly branding yourself, not to mention the process of designing and rolling out the website itself…it takes a lot of work. Be patient; it’s worth it.

Next time, I’ll cover the nitty gritty of blog production. Stay tuned!

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