One small concrete example is provided by this blog. When I started, my mission was to address any and all things related to the art and craft of the written word. My focus was and remains on process—that is, the how of something, the blueprint—delivered in short, narrative weekly bursts, and with two telling photos to put things at a glance.
My brand, on the other hand, was not something I had figured out. Brand is what is special about what I was trying to do, what separates it from other blogs. It’s the way you know it’s me. And that took some data gathering, took some thinking.
This is post number 112. Looking back, studying the metrics of what worked and what didn’t, I noted that the best posts shared a particular voice. Let’s call it friendly, though not necessarily chipper. I would also call it enthusiastic, both confident and encouraging. The voice and approach convey the idea that if I can do it, you can do it (the gospel truth!), and what’s keeping you, and here’s how to go at it. I also noted that the wackier stories are among the best, as are the personal ones, especially those derived in foreign places.
Could I have told you this much about these posts at number 14, say, or even 40? Could I have defined the specific elements—the special taste, color, tone, look, message, and texture—the things that mark me as me? Not nearly
To discover zebra strips, you need volume and an arm’s length distance to consider what’s working. After that, it’s just a question of working with it and making it better. It’s your brand, whatever it is, and no one can do it quite like you.
Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo credits: fingerprint by blvesboy Jose Luis Agapito; zebra by Annemieke de Bondt.