Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Agony of Branding

How obsessing about a blog title turns into questions about who you are and what you are about:

Who am I?  Why am I here?  What's for dinner?
"What happened to your blog?" an amused Darling Bride asked Saturday afternoon, noticing that I had changed my blog name.  Again.

Well, I've been struggling with my online brand, don't you know.  Oh, haven't we all.  Since starting to blog in 2006, I've been affectionately known as "Encourage You, " "Husband and Family Guy," "Man vs. Suburbs," and "Crafting a Remarkable Life," among other things.  When Darling Bride was looking at my computer screen, I was currently calling myself "Jeff dot Family Adventures."  Why the multiple blogging disorder?

Whether we admit it or not, all of us put some effort into crafting the image we project to others.  You don't have to be online to wrestle with those issues.  How you dress for work, the car you drive, where you live, do you wear your baseball hat forward or backward, all are part of your "brand".  That effort is magnified a zillion-fold in cyberspace.  For me, I have struggled way too long with my own online brand, from title to core message and in between.  The past several days have found myself over the top.

The problem is my desire is to create an online presence using everyday life situations that illustrate principles.  The deliverable is helping others and me become better husbands and dads.  That sounds simple, but how to do that in an environment where how many thousands of blogs are being continually started, and how may millions of blog posts are continually written?  How to do that?  Get noticed right away with a great title and tag line!  Unfortunately, creative marketing isn't really my forte.  I am a certified public accountant in my day job, after all.  Creativity in accounting can sometimes put someone in jail.

There are a lot of good website / blogs out there about building a better blog.  One of my favorites is by Seth Leonard at  When readers sign up for his e-mail updates, he solicits questions from his subscribers.  My question went like this:

So I spent this past Saturday ignoring my family so that I could think about how to brand myself as someone loving and leading his family.  Darling Bride helped me think up "Dadventures in Suburbia."  (Star Trek fans may notice the subtle Klingon reference.)  I had a lot of other ideas, but they were pretty much taken by others.

Aside:  It should be a crime to have a clever blog title, then abandon your blog.  You know who you are.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I expanded on her idea with "Jeff Hoots, Family Adventurist."  Dadventures in Suburbia is great, but I also want to include my role as husband in my brand.

Therefore, on Monday, February 9, 2012, I'm asserting my trademark, "Jeff Hoots, Family Adventurist." TM  While I'm at it, also "Adventures, (mis)adventures, and lessons learned as husband, homeschool dad, and CPA."  TM

Aside 2:  You can learn more about trademarks and how to assert them by reading PROFESSIONAL BLOGGING FOR DUMMIES by Susan J. Getgood.

Here is my hope:  I really would like to build my audience, to have a "tribe."  I'm taking this seriously, and it is time for readers to be able to figure out who I am and what I'm about within a matter of seconds.  Hopefully I've got my title, tagline, and "about" sections in place.  Hopefully the content and writing quality will follow.

Speaking of identity, my favorite words about identity include these:
John 1:12 - 13:  But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
How about you?  Do you take time to think about who you are and what you are about?  How well are you communicating that message, if you are online, in sales, in an office, or at home with your family?  Do you know?

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