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work and money

3 Reasons Your Blog Needs A Logo

by anna on March 15, 2010

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I recently hired Laurie Smithwick of Leap Design (aka @upsideup, and one of the founders of Kirtsy) to design a logo for ABDPBT View definition in a new window. Laurie is the person who designed the logos for Cool Mom Picks and Kirtsy, among many others. I was excited to get a chance to discuss the possibilities for an ABDPBT logo with a designer who knows this industry and already has a good idea of what works in this particular space while we were at Mom 2.0 last month.

Here’s why I decided to pay a professional graphic designer to design a logo for me: in case you have not noticed, the aesthetics of my site are always changing. I have four different sections of my blog, and I design a new masthead every month. I have been known to switch up my web design whenever it suits my fancy. I chose a difficult site name that nobody can remember, much less pronounce or type into their browsers correctly, and even if I’ve devised a means of working around that complication with creative URL redirects (e.g. see what happens if you type in “” into your address bar), I lack a visual design element that is able to remain constant throughout all this changing content and cross-platform appearances. I like to experiment with design, but frankly, coming up with an iconic image to represent myself and my work non-verbally or quasi-verbally is beyond my talents at present.

What I told Laurie was: I want something that functions like the Playboy Bunny, or Alfred Hitchcock’s profile, for lack of better examples. I want something that can appear on my Twitter page, my business cards, and in every masthead — so that there’s always something that tells you exactly what you’re looking at. Right now, Laurie’s working on figuring out just what the hell that thing might be, but I thought in the meantime I’d list some reasons for why you might want to consider a professional logo design as well.

  1. Really great logos can be incorporated into the fabric of your work. (in some cases, literally).

  2. Take the Lululemon logo. Not only is the lululemon logo flexible enough to appear in all of the different incarnations of a constantly changing clothing brand, the “stylized ‘a’ logo” (that’s what they call it, I always think of it as looking like a flip hairdo) is something that Lululemon has taken to stitching directly into their clothing. My running shirts all have seams that are in the shape of the logo, and just today I saw somebody carrying a workout bag that was quilted by using a pattern of interlaced lululemon “A”s all across its bottom. The shape itself comes to stand for the brand, and that offers a lot more flexibility and subtlety with branding across different mediums. A blogger can really benefit from that kind of thing, as he or she moves from blogging, to Twitter, to Facebook, to speaking, to book deals, and beyond, because the logo can grow with you.

  3. Good logos paired with good brands can inspire people, create new opportunities.
  4. snow white laptop skin
    The Apple logo is not only immediately recognizable, it is also something that is so well-incorporated into the identity of the brand that it can actually inspire the production of new products that showcase it. The Snow White apple laptop skin/decal above is an example of this — people love Apple so much they want to call attention to their branded products, and create new business opportunities and products around that desire. These decals are sold on Etsy for die-hard Apple fanboys, and have spawned a whole host of other ideas about how to use the apple on the outside of the computer. I’m not quite at the point where I’m going to be buying a decal for my computer, but that does not change the fact that I wouldn’t mind having a logo people liked so much that they wanted to help me do the work of branding for free.

  5. Product placement is so much easier with a good logo.
  6. Mac logo concealed
    Now clearly this issue is not going to come up right off the bat for the average blog owner, but whenever you have a good logo that’s easily recognizable, you can then incorporate it into product placement opportunities with ease. Sometimes, people will actually have to take steps to keep your product placement from appearing, in fact. For example, The Awl recently claimed that Apple should get an Oscar for how many product placement appearances it has made in movies this year. In some cases, as in the picture above (from the movie, The Killers) the producers actually had to take steps to conceal the fact that people are using an Apple computer. As a big business, what you want are situations in which people see a movie or a TV show and have to actually wonder whether or not the placement was paid or accidental. And when Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started Apple, I doubt they could have had any idea that their Apple logo would one day reach that kind of ubiquity. Who is to say yours won’t either?

In order to progress further on the Great ABDPBT Product Placement Experiment, I’m going to need a media kit to give to potential sponsors when I approach them about a partnership. A media kit is basically just an informational packet (a pdf, or a section of your website) that gives sponsors an idea of what a site is about, what kind of mission you have for your business, who your readers are, and (in short) why they would want to partner with you. Here are the sections I’m including in the media kit I’m creating for ABDPBT View definition in a new window, which I’ve created using the highly scientific method of looking at what other people have done and adapting it to my own purposes. Once I’ve completed my own media kit, I’ll share it here with you guys for critique, and I’m hoping that any of you who have already done this will chime in with thoughts or suggestions in the comments.

  1. An ABOUT page.

    This is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the About page from your blog. It should mention the general philosophy of your site, and a general mission statement for your site. You can think about this section as trying to answer, in really general terms, why you write, and why people are interested in reading what you have to say.
  2. An EDITORIAL page.

    This page gives a rough idea of what kinds of material you write, on what topics, how often, and the format in which they usually appear (i.e. blog posts, ebooks, newsletters, consults, et cetera). This will give the reader of the media kit an idea of how their brand might hope to interact, i.e. if there is an opportunity for them to fit seamlessly into your content in a manner befitting product placement, or if they will have to depend on more traditional ad placements.

    This page dresses up the stats about your readership you get from Quantcast into terms that can appeal to a company (the above example is from the Daily Candy Media Kit. For example you might say, “the ABDPBT reader is: . . . . well-educated (over 67% of the readership has a graduate degree” or ” . . . . urban (over 20% live in major metropolitan areas.” How you arrange this section has a lot to do with what your most significant and attractive stats are. Think about what things are most important to advertisers, particularly the brands you intend to approach, and emphasize those.
  4. A SPECS page. This page tells the brand all of the various different options available to them in terms of advertising, product placement, partnerships, what have you. The more established your blog is, the more details you will be able to provide here; for example, for ABDPBT, I can say that I have one 160 x 900 skyscraper ad per regular blog page available, one 300 x 250 ad slot available on the landing page, and a leaderboard on the crossword page. You will want to include any restrictions you have on advertising here as well, e.g. no flash, no roll-overs, no special sizes or what have you.
  5. A RATES page.

    This last suggestion is optional: some media outlets will include an information sheet listing the going rates for ad placements and the like. This is probably going to work best on well-established sites that have a track record of private advertising sales; because of this, you might consider leaving it off your first draft of a media kit — it’s tough to tell people your going rates when you don’t know how much people are willing to pay yet. Once you’ve established yourself as a media outlet with various successful placements and advertising sales, you can amend your media kit to include this page in greater detail.

product placement in blogs

Earlier this week, I wrote about The Mayflower Model for monetizing blogs through careful, highly specialized product placement. In the discussion that ensued, it became clear that, not only are people impressed and intrigued by this model for monetizing blogs, there is also a lot of confusion about how to go about trying to do the same thing on your blog as Gabrielle Blair managed to do with Design Mom. So I thought, let’s see if we can figure it out for ourselves? Because if we succeed, then we will have recorded a step-by-step process through which a blogger wanting to arrange this kind of thing for themselves might be able to implement it. And if we fail, then not only will that provide lots of free entertainment and schadenfreunde to go around, it will also no doubt spark lots of conversations about how we might improve the model going forward.

So here’s my idea: we (me, Mini, and Mr. Right-Click) are planning on going to New York this summer for BlogHer View definition in a new window, and for a family vacation during the week before or after the conference (we haven’t decided yet). Since this is a trip we’ve decided to take no matter what, and for which we will have to buy various things like plane tickets and hotel rooms and transporation and what not, I thought this would be a good time to try to experiment with product placement and test the waters for how companies feel about this kind of thing. We are going to approach the product placement experiment and try to break up the process into steps that people might replicate at home, if they want to try to do it themselves. In other words, we are going to throw stuff up against the wall and see what sticks.

Sound good? Let’s get started.

Step One: Figure Out Who Your Audience Is

OK, before we get into creating a media kit or providing statistics to sponsors, we have to figure out what my audience consists of. First we’ll see what Quantcast has to say about it.
demographics for

According to Quantcast, the audience for abdpbt View definition in a new is made up of an overwhelmingly caucasian audience, with slightly more women than men (but almost exactly the same), most of whom are in the 35-49 age group. Most of you have no kids (!), and a third of the audience has a household income of over $100,000 per year. I have an unusually high number of readers with graduate school educations (not really surprising, given the title of the blog), and people who visit this blog are likely to also like blogs that talk about politics and commentary, science and nature (really?!) and fashion and cosmetics (booyah).

These generalizations fit, mostly, with what my impression of you guys would be, though I’m a little surprised that there are as many men as women, and a little surprised there aren’t more people with kids. But here’s the problem: my stats are skewed by a couple of things, most notably, the fact that I have the New York Times Crossword Puzzle on this site. This gets a number of visitors, regular visitors, who don’t read the rest of the blog. Those people are included in my stats through Quantcast, but they are not necessarily people who would be reading a content campaign. So if I can, I have to try to exclude them from my results. One way of doing this would be to put a different Quantcast tag on the pages with the puzzle, and I will do that to make the future results more accurate. But for now, I’d like to hear from you guys: how would you profile the ABDPBT reader? Do you think the different sections have different readerships? What kinds of brands do you think would appeal to the ABDPBT readership, and why? I don’t want this to turn into something like a quiz, but I thought it’s always enlightening when we talk about ourselves, and it might be the best way to shape a (hypothetical) content campaign that doesn’t make all of our skin crawl, so please chime in with your thoughts below.

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