Transfer Equity from Your Current Brand to the Next

Filed as Features on March 21, 2008 6:45 am

In a recent conversation here at The Blog Herald, Chris Garrett asked a very good question:

What do you do when your well known brand doesn’t match with your business?

He cited Wendy Piersall’s eMom brands as a good example of an online brand that started as a blog and is now expanding into a full media publication for both moms and dads.

Rebranding or repositioning efforts can also be a move to package your site for a sale. Rob May of BusinessPundit.com did just that this past February. While May developed the voice and style of BusinessPundit.com, the site was well positioned to continue to appeal to readers in search of business news and information. The site lives on sans May.

While rebranding efforts online include potentially the redirect of a domain name to a new one or an expansion of the original brand, in addition to your readers, what you would like to transfer is the equity of your current brand into the new one.

Readers and business prospect will be more flexible than search engines in following your brand to a new place. They will do that because they follow you – in other words, your name is associated with the blog’s brand. That is a strength and it can be a weakness if you are working towards selling.

Brand Equity Can be Transferred

Equity means that you built a reservoir of characteristics and experiences that are identified with your brand. When the brand you own is one and the same with your name or person, you may need to work towards disassociating yourself from the brand before you can sell it.

Lorelle VanFossen wrote about the experience Aaron Brazell had when he put his blog for sale. One of the points she made was that the blogger counts. As more and more bloggers will look at selling their online properties and work:

The issue of separating the blogger from the blog will be a huge hindrance, but I think the value of the blogger and the blog may meld in an interesting way as more bloggers consider selling their blogs.

The plan is simple, develop a voice for the brand and begin to tone down the blogger’s personality – yours. This is exactly the opposite that you did when you built your blog. In the beginning it was probably all about you and developing a voice. Part of doing that today is also cross-networking your blog on Twitter and Facebook, for example. The more known you became, the better read the blog – because of you.

Do the opposite now. Build a stream on Twitter for your brand that is separate from you. If you have been using the brand’s name as your own, like in the case of Aaron with Technosailor, start a stream for Aaron and begin using Technosailor for the brand. Think it cannot be done? There are many memes on Twitter started by people with streams who developed a separate persona for a niche message.

What if I Use My Name?

If you use your name and have an eye on an exit strategy that culminates with a sale, what you need to do is find a name for that publication. Then you can begin to build equity into the brand by borrowing from your own. Here’s how you do it.

You begin by always associating your name with the blog name everywhere. Sooner or later, readers will begin to see you as one and the same. Then you start using your name a little less, making the blog/brand name more prominent while still using your voice.

Once you see that you are making headway with the new brand, you can complete the transferring of equity into that brand by working on making that voice separate from yours as I outlined above. The brand that can stand on its own and be seen as an asset with an established readership – metrics, please – and earning potential for a buyer, will be much more appetizing. At that point it will be neutral enough to appeal to someone else.

You Could Start by Developing Just the Brand

There is always the option to develop the brand as a publication with its own voice from the beginning. In this case you may be seen as the editor and not linked too closely with the posts. You plan it this way and play it detached for the very reason that you have an eye on transferring the asset in a sale.

Of course, even companies often start with the founder’s name and manage to be sold profitably and continue under a different leadership. In some cases it takes a long time – think about Ford – and many layers in the organization to make that happen.

I have a pretty good idea that online everything tends to move much faster – including the rate at which people may experience burn out. If an exit strategy is what you have in mind, you do want to think about making the arrangements to position your brand for it well before that critical moment. The value of your asset depends on it.

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  1. By Chris Garrett posted on March 21, 2008 at 7:51 am
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    Excellent advice. I think we will see more and more bloggers doing this, moving away from the solo voice to the blog brand voice and being more business focused.

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  2. By Valeria Maltoni posted on March 21, 2008 at 8:02 am
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    Thank you, Chris. You and Lorelle both had strong posts about it and the conversation has shifted more towards how do I make a business out of this work/passion.

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  3. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on March 21, 2008 at 10:01 pm
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    I’m hearing from more and more people that the “name game” they played with their blogging names is now coming to haunt them. They are struggling with how to step out from behind the shadow of their online persona into the light as a real person. So thanks for putting the emphasis on that point. We have to be real if we are selling “ourselves” through our blogs.

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  4. By Valeria Maltoni posted on March 22, 2008 at 10:29 am
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    Ironically, this is a similar predicament of companies that have been struggling to look and sound more human. It is easy to forget to plan for the subtext – what comes across in between the lines – yet it is a key component of the overall conversation, especially in a medium where non verbals are a bit harder to get across.

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  5. By Wendy Piersall posted on March 24, 2008 at 11:51 am
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    What excellent points Valeria! Since eMoms was founded as a hobby blog, I never knew it would become my business. Nor could I *ever* have predicted how it would evolve into what it is today.

    Great example about Aaron/Techosailor. I’m known so well as eMom – but the site has grown so much, and it’s not all about me or even my brand anymore. It’s really about the community that has developed around the content.

    I’m quite nervous about the transition, but also excited to bring the whole site up to a higher level. And you can bet your butt I’ll be EVERYWHERE to help transition the brand from the old to the new!

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  6. By Valeria Maltoni posted on March 24, 2008 at 9:05 pm
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    Over the years I developed new brand extensions as well as have taken mature brands to the next level. It is something I am deeply passionate about – and might I add good at?

    From what I have seen, you are doing many things right, Wendy. Of course you should be nervous, this is your baby! I’m thinking that community rallies around the essence you were able to infuse into that brand. We had a similar thing going with Fast Company readers’ network in Philadelphia. I eventually had to fade into the background (as hard as that might seem to conceive) to allow other leaders to emerge. Keep up the great work.

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