Many bloggers become so focused on quality content — the most critical tactical consideration in blogging for business — that they often neglect the visual image of their blog. If you analyze your Google analytics — you do have Google analytics, right? — you should find that the majority of your traffic comes in via the blog. The reason is simple: the blog contains the latest, freshest and often the most relevant content. (For why you should post at least 16 times a month, please see this feature story>>”
Your Home Page is Probably Not Your Busiest Page
This means, chances are, your beautiful home page is probably not the page prospects are landing on. Whether they are visiting you from a post on Linkedin, or from a Google keyword search, the majority of your traffic — if you’ve been blogging as frequently as you should — is landing on various popular blog posts. Which makes the image and brand of your blog almost certainly as critical as that of your web home page.
Even companies who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars maintaining a strongly branded website or web store, often forget that the blog is the most common landing page for visitors. Outbound advertising tends to bring traffic to your home page, or a designated page for a campaign, but inbound efforts such as your blog, tend to bring audiences to the most relevant page to their query — your blog — via good organic content.
Image and Persona of Blog
Imagine if, after all that work building your site and blog, the prospect lands on your blog post, only to find an amateurish, vanity post? Or a post with poorly thought out illustrations and photos? Or a thickly written technical post that is difficult to comprehend? Or, a post the latest intern in the marketing department churned out — stuffed with keywords and grammatical errors.
Not only should your blog visually support your corporate brand, the vision of the post, the tone and manner, and the images chosen to illustrate should take into account your all-important brand image. Your corporation likely invested heavily in your brand, and your blog should play a strong supporting role. (For information on brand and image, refer to the Persona Corp. website and blog>>)
Image is More than Visual: Your Content Sets the Tone
For this reason, quality writing and content is critical. If the blog post is a weekly duty, relegated to “least important” priority for the day, the blog will soon fill up with thin puff. (Or not fill up at all, which is arguable worse. For research on blog frequency, refer to this feature>>) Imagine the impact, to a potential client, of landing on the blog of your credible corporation, only to find the blog posts is fluffy nonsense — or worse, poorly written fluffy nonsense.
Bringing in a junior writer for a blog can be a fundamental mistake, given the importance of the blog as a “landing page.” Only use your best writers, or the best possible outsourced writers, and make the blog post a priority, not a distraction and after thought.
The image of the blog landing page, and the images and illustrations chosen for the posts should reflect your professionalism and brand.
The Image Factor — the Persona Principle
All of the principles we advocate at Persona Corp for branding, apply equally to your blog as to your multinational ad campaigns, trade show booths, and business stationery. Image is image.
We wrote about “The Image Factor”  in the bestselling book The Persona Principle: How to Succeed in Business with Image Marketing, beginning with a very bold statement:
“The image of success has more value than tangible success.”
This was a deliberately provocative statement in the context of branding. It applies equally to blogging. Although truth and substance matter, the image is the first thing a blog reader is exposed to when they land on the post. For instance, if the feature image is silly, hokey or irrelevant, they might take a pass on a read.
It is useful to quote from the “Image Factor” chapter of the book, The Persona Principle. All of the tips and discussions are as relevant to your blog and blog content as to your branded advertising campaigns.
The chapter began with a discussion of The Image Factor:
“Brand marketers have known for years that the persona of a product has more value than the substance. The persona must be based in truth, but it must also be a strategically formulated image that appeals to your specific audience—your potential clients. If you look successful, people will assume you are. With this perception, you gain confidence and credibility — the most important elements in any relationship.”
After giving a few examples, from various industries, the chapter re-asserts that claim with a comparison of the relative value of image to other corporate assets:
“Image is always first and most important. Truth is second. Credibility is third. Financial assets are, at best, fourth in value…”
How it Works in Practice
The chapter on “The Image Factor” continues in the same audacious vein:
“Here’s how it works: your core truth should be supported by your image. In other words, what you offer is paramount. How you offer it comes next. To accomplish this step, you must study your audience and learn what it responds to. Establishing credibility is a long process, and you must follow a clear-cut strategy for building believability in your persona. You must never compromise your persona for any reason. If you follow all these steps, your persona will grow on its own until your venture is completely independent of its creators.”
Applying The Image Factor to Your Blog
How do you apply this branding principle to the blog? When you write on a topic that will interest your audiences, the tone and manner of the writing, the structure of the headline, and the key points conveyed should all be on-point with the brand mission.
The blog home page, the topics it covers, the style of writing and headline should all support the corporate brand style. If your brand is famously edgy and trend-setting, your blog must contain the same edge. If your brand is conservative, to maximize your “Expert Power Persona” , your writing and writers should adopt a conservative style and support all blog posts with extensive notes and facts. If your brand is the Hero Power Persona  — the Apple Computer of your industry — innovation and creativity should be the first consideration. The “Hero” can be cheeky and humorous, where the Expert cannot. (To learn more about Power Personas, review this post on the Persona blog>>)
Going beyond the brand to the actual content of the individual blog post, it must contain the same essential “six keys to image” as your corporate brand.
The Six Image Factoring Techniques
The six keys to successful image, as quoted from The Persona Principle, are:
- Image must be anchored in truth.
- Your projected image must be unique and differentiating.
- Never stop reaching your audience with your image.
- Only show those aspects of your image that support your persona.
- Never show weakness.
- Conduct a complete image audit regularly to ensure you stay on brand.
How do you apply this to the blog? There is no key difference. You might tweak the language to say:
- Your blog post must be truthful.
- The style of your blog post and the images you choose must be unique and differentiating and consistent with your brand.
- You should blog often — most data indicates 16 blog posts a month is the ideal target for a corporate blog. See this blog post on frequency>>
- Edit the content to reflect the image and mission of either your corporate brand or the product brand.
- Make strong statements, and avoid generic statements, flimsy logic and off-point topics.
- Every month audit your blog. Ensure the writers you’ve engaged are writing to the professional caliber of your organization. Make sure the style is on point with the brand. Support your audit with analytics, particularly focusing on blog posts that pull above-average results.
 Page 57 in The Persona Principle: How to Succeed in Business with Image Marketing, Paperback: 240 pages; Publisher: Touchstone from Simon & Schuster (May 8, 1997); Language: English; ISBN-10: 0684802694; ISBN-13: 978-068480269
 Ibid, “The Power Personas” chapter. Expert Power Persona is one of the five key Power Personas of branding.