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In my neck of the woods, cattle get branded, but I’ve been DOING Twitter, and reading about branding.  Apparently, if I want to my blog to take off and really go  places I need to be branded.  My blog is doing relatively well, nothing viral, but then until a few days ago I was not branded.  Judging from the lack of number of visitors and likes on my Facebook page, branding must be an essential step I’m missing.

Still only 56 Likes

Still only 56 Likes

So, here we go again, I need your opinion.  I put a brand on my WP site.  Do you like it?  No, Manny is not the Brand.  Manny’s my top salesperson!  So I featured him in my header.

Simple, unchanging, eye catching, unique, unafraid to be who they are, bold

Simple, unchanging, eye-catching, unique, unafraid to be who they are, bold

So is a brand something like our gravitars?   Is it the header?  In my mind a good brand is Leanne Cole’s black and white box with her name in it.  I also like Ralph’s gravitar partly because he did a whole post on it, and asked people why they followed him.  The hat came out as the biggest plus.

Susan Hunter I like EasyBreezy books, too – even though the picture is not the author, and she doesn’t use her name.  I just want to look like that!  I like my gravitar because a good picture of myself is hard to find, AND in this one the chairs behind me sort of add dimension to my hair, making it almost look like I have more hair.  I like that!  But I don’t think that is what I need for my brand – as shown by my lack of FB LIKES.

Simple, my favorite color de jour, my brand name because I loved my job as the TC History Consultant

Simple, my favorite color de jour, my brand name because I loved my job as the TC History Consultant

I tried designing a brand myself, but my handwriting is horrible, even using my new table in Adobe Illustrator.  My drawing is worse, and I don’t even know what I would draw to describe my brand?  In this blog are the loves of my life, Y’ALL, my readers, first of all, book reviews, travel stories, lectures on how education should always include history/social studies, my family (which is pretty much history!), assorted friends, retirement advice, poetry, pets, Manny, the adventures of the History Ladies, history of Tulare County, and what I’m learning about photography, blogging, graphic designing, and quilting for starters.

Simple, another of my favorite colors, clean - at least in a smaller size

Simple, another of my favorite colors, clean – at least in a smaller size

Even though I am basing my overall image on my former job as an Instructional Consultant in History/Social Science, and my love of it, I have moved on in who I am and what I produce.  Maybe moved backwards to what I liked before I chose a career.  I’m not trying to market history, but I am working to inform and entertain you (the rest of the world) as photographer and writer.  The product line I am marketing is somewhat sketchy in my mind, but I am driven to produce SOMETHING, therein is the Productions part of the brand.  I have tried to market some of my pictures, but I’m not totally there yet.  I’ve written at least one children’s book, but it’s not ready for production after at least 18 years.  But surely there’s something I can produce that someone will want!  🙂  Yes??????

Still my name, streaming Kaweah River into Bravo Lake.  Hard to read, but...

Still my Brand on top of the Kaweah River streaming into Bravo Lake.   Keep in mind that even though corrected, this is how I see EVERYTHING.  I’m assuming this brand is a bit blurry to you, too!

Since I am already marketing photography through Fine Arts America, I considered bringing in a little photography into my brand.  Maybe I need to bring in a little of my “Streaming Thoughts,” which is what I actually do on this blog.  Granted all these trial “brands” are rough, and very poor quality.  But if I am trying to market myself, and I feel that I must after reading these blogging gurus, to justify the amount of time and energy that I spend blogging, I’ve got to SELL SOMETHING!  am I going to sell my random thoughts?  Who does that and gets by with it other than Paul Harvey?  But then he had a GREAT brand – The Rest of the Story.  Remember him?

Is branding the signature line, the rest of the story?

Is branding the signature line, “the rest of the story”?

Interestingly the story that I hyperlinked there talks about the fact that he was like the forerunner of a current day blogger.  YES!  Maybe there is hope for a market for what I do…  chat.

Garrison Keillor

I also thought about Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion.  I can totally identify with this picture.  I’m your Tulare County Home Companion.  Why, it even looks like me in my office!  I’m a little smaller, and my legs are slightly tanner, and I don’t wear shoes to blog!   🙂

Click and Clack

Of course, you’ve heard of these guys, Click and Clack.  If not, you are missing one of my favorite radio shows, and I hate cars.  I’d never fix a car if you paid me millions of dollars, and yet, I love their show.  I want to be just like them.  Funny and informative.


When I was in my 20s friends and strangers even would say I looked and acted like Lily Tomlin.  That was an insult to me then because all I could picture was her brand, and it was not what I was trying to portray at the time.  Now I realize the people were not far off the mark.  There are similarities that even I can see.

Erma Bombeck

Finally there’s the lady to whom my writing has been most likened to, Erma Bombeck.  I love her brand line in this picture, “The family that plays together…  gets on each other’s nerves.  How true is that?

I tried to press publish real quickly this morning before Sally and I took our walk, but I couldn’t be rude and let her wait long enough to get it done.  So we talked about branding on our walk.  We laughed about the thought of everything streaming out from Tulare County (TC), but for me, it does.


Tulare County is the bread basket for the country, the center of agriculture (not that I’m a farmer, but that is the primary industry here, and you all enjoy the benefits of it.)  Sally suggested that I had to have a map, and I found the perfect map of Tulare County in 1850 when Tulare County was huge!

Sally-inspired brand

Sally-inspired brand

This is my final brand for today.  I need your opinions now to move to the next step.

So what do you think?

76 replies »

  1. Branding is a weird thing, I keep hearing it everywhere. I created my gravitar because I saw others that stood out, and I wanted mine to stand out too, I wanted that tiny little image to be one that when you saw it, you would instantly know I had been there. It has turned out to be a great thing, and as you have said, has become my brand. It is what people think of when they see it. Nice to know that you like it Marsha, that means a lot to me.
    I really like the last one you have done. It is really nice.


    • Thanks. Paula has redone it. Penny Howe is also helping me with it, and she likes my gravitar as part of my brand. She doesn’t think I should change my gravitar.


  2. I like the last one, Marsha. Good luck with your branding. I’ve never considered anything like this, preferring to stick with the status quo. I guess I’m just too lazy as well as being technically challenged. 😀


    • No, no to both of those assumptions. You have a brand, and your header and WP name says it all! You are the gal living in paradise. And if you are not always physically in paradise, the attitude you present to us always reflects it. 🙂


  3. Tough call. I’m not sure how much attention it brings. Like all your designs. I do find that blogs that get the most attention seem to be very specific about the niches they address– so the more you (and me) stray from something specific to more random– the less likelihood of becoming noticed. Frankly– who cares? I have a lot of followers and with each post usually get another one or two. It takes time to read blogs and write comments. Something to think about. Good luck!


    • You have said some very wise things. Your blog has somewhat more of a raison d’etre, than mine, since you are an published author. As such you have something tangible you are marketing. I am marketing my random thoughts. I am also marketing my chattering with people. I have come to know some of you pretty well, and I love our chats in the comment boxes and via email. Your comments being some of my favorites! 🙂 But just think, a year ago, I had none of your comments to spur me on and inspire me.


  4. Oh dear, Jade rather, or perhaps I should have just written ST or AJ or A Jade or da babs or old salt or briny lass or….oh so many brand names so little time…


  5. Aloha dear MLT (Marsha Lee Toadie, of course),

    Excellent post, very well-written! I must say, mentioning the Car Talk blokes evoked quite a grin from me. There was one show I was listening to a few weeks ago that reminded me of you, actually, probably because Portland was a part of it. A lass from Portland chimed in, she sounded like the sweetest lassie on earth, and she delicately asked about carting giant rocks in her car as a precious gift for her dear darling husband. You can imagine how they reacted to this caller. The rocks were massive and weighed a lot and she had to drive along in a wheezing little Richard Scarry buggy sort of car through the mountains and wanted to know how much weight the vehicle could handle, as she wanted to purchases dozens of these giant boulders for her hubby’s b-day. I imagined she was you, of course, getting boulders for V, and could not cease laughing (I told you I’m a brute!). Of course, they were sober enough to mention that renting a truck for the job was the most judicious plot to go with for such an endeavour.

    Right, rambling off topic.

    As for your brand, lass, I am sure you will come up with something truly groovy! I have trust in that. Most exciting!! One thing is for certain, you greatly surpass my own understanding/knowledge of these things. I only recently obtained a tweetie thing and have begun some vague little tweeties on it. I was only induced to join because I realised I could keep up with recent activities of all my favourite scientists from around the world!! Imagine how thrilled I was to find you were there amongst the twitter-land! But I’m corn-pletely lost on what to do and will have to obtain 12 instruction manuals for that soon.

    I love the blog brands of Ralph’s and Leanne’s too, they are brilliant. I also think your FaceB. page looks exquisite.

    I have thought very little of branding mine, but I have been working on a new look for me blog. As you know, I have no idea what the bally porpoise of my blog is. Hmm…brand eh? That man slouched in the office chair there is inspiring me, yes- that image, only take the man in the chair and throw him and chair on some beach with a little palm tree growing crookedly over him with a pocked bole, add some bright-lemon flippers to dangle off his ankles as he hugs a great, absolutely stunning, very decrepit, yellowing Oxford dictionary, and replace that human face with the sweet impish visage of a smiling toad as the focal point…hum! I think I rather like it….

    Autumn Jad


  6. I kind of like the aqua/white brand. It’s probably the simplicity of it.

    I don’t think I have a brand.


  7. You now have 59 Facebook Likes. 🙂

    I sort of fell into my branding. I didn’t have a current picture of me, so I simply used Susan Hunter’s headshot for my Gravatar when I started my blog. In an effort to get her name and my books out there, I used her and the same pink background everywhere. I allowed my blog to be silly like my books, and over time, it’s all been coming together. I recently purchased the domain for my name, but I owned for many years, and it fit my books so well that I went ahead and used it when I first set up my book website.

    I love that you have so much diversity on your blog, Marsha. I like Streaming Thoughts as your main focus, and I like the idea of a picture with words encompassing your topics – fun, food, photography, books, history, etc.

    Keywords and tags will help to bring more people to your blog. I never realized how important a blog title could be, and I still forget to give thought to that when I come up with titles. The following advice came from a couple of search engine gurus: “Cute, clever, or confusing titles should be tossed out. Instead, write headlines that are unique, ultra-specific, useful or urgent.” … And this: “Use numbers in your title to indicate lists, and the words “how to” because people love to read and make lists, and they like to learn “how to” do something.” … And this: “Working a high-ranking keyword or two into every post can be extremely beneficial.” … Finding out what words are trending and then using them somewhere in your blog post can help to drive a lot of traffic to your blog.All of this falls under search engine optimization, and I fail in that department, because I forget about it all the time. I hope some of this was helpful. If not, feel free to delete this last whole chunk of SEO babble. 😉


    • Actually this is very interesting, not just to me, but to others who are out there blogging and want to bring more people to their site. I know the people who I have become close with work very hard on their sites, and I am shocked when maybe 3-4 people have seen their posts. I have seen MANY great writers and photographers like this, and I don’t understand why people aren’t flocking to their sites! I know that I struggle getting to lots of sites every day – and I KNOW that others have the same problem. Thanks for the great comment, Maddie. 🙂


  8. This technical communicator has just put down an inaccuracy–sorry–Click and Clack Car Talk hosts are very much still with us. My review before posting was a little off tonight.


    • Hahaha Yes, they are. I talked to a guy at a bird rescue phone number yesterday that reminded me so much of them I told him he should have his own show. I’ll write a post about it soon – before I forget it. ST will love it. V found a blue jay egg that fell out of its nest. 🙂


      • Glad we cause near-stool tumblings! We look forward to the bird rescue posting. I have a blog in-process but not yet ready for prime time. St is an avid Car Talk Click and Clack (my own car does this, 260K miles does that to an engine!) listener. So you guy are fellow NPR’ers? That’s super.


        • Wow! 260K miles! Mine only has 180K, but no problems as yet. I love NPR. V – not so much. I don’t listen as much as I used to because I’m not driving as much. I listened when I drove. Now I mostly blog! 🙂


      • PS: ST just kissed a cat and he licked her back. As Lucy of Peanuts would say, EWW cat germs!! Babs is good at getting animals to smooch; she gets geese to kiss her at the park!


        • She must have a great immune system. I have to agree about eeeewwwww especially ont eh geese smooching! She definitely a Dr. Doolittle. She should be a vet! 🙂 or maybe a wild animal whisperer. 🙂


  9. This blog posting sent me tripping down memory lane with all the late celebrities (OOOH, fell again-inside joke). I like the yellow California one, but maybe give it a few more photos, play with the object sizes and lines perhaps. I am no artist so others can maybe chime in too. I have to know, who is the disheveled man lounging in the office chair in that office? I agree, your style is like that of Bombeck. I read her column sometimes, hit home a little too much sometimes. Keep up the brilliant blogging! PS, rabbits seem to be multiplying again, drat that Ralph.


    • You gotta love Ralph, rabbits and all! Thanks for the wonderful compliments. Where would I be without you and ST to inspire me to write????? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost fallen off me seat laughing. 🙂


  10. I work in graphic design and marketing professionally – I just attended a packaging seminar that talked about branding quite a bit and they gave me something to think about – branding is not your logo, or your mission statement, or the color scheme, or the font you select – branding all of this and the relationship you have with your customers/readers. I have done OK increasing the likes on my FB page – it grows more when I make a point to post and interact with commenters. I also link my page to my blog and to several photo discussion groups I belong to – I am trying to bring the conversation to all facets of my online activity. I have come to think that the logo or look comes naturally from the content and conversation, but that’s just my thinking – there are dozens of ways to skin a cat 🙂


    • That makes a lot of success. I haven’t grown my FB page much since the beginning and I do interact with people. It grew by two today, though. That was nice! I haven’t linked to any groups, but it is linked to my blog. I sure have enjoyed the conversations we have! My next big photo purchases will be because of your pictures and your advice! 🙂


      • LOL – thanks! I have found that on FB Pages, that comments get your page to come up more in feeds. I comment on my own photos under my own name (not the page name) giving a bit more info about the image – this makes it show up in my feed and let’s my friends comment and like the page. Since I have been blogging I have been posting fewer photos, but I need to do more and keep it active.


        • I do try to post on FB separately from the blog as well. It makes a lot of posting for people. I also have twitter tied into FB, so If I like someone’s tweet that shows up as well. I may be too interconnected, but I like to share what I learn. 🙂


  11. I like the Streaming Thoughts one towards the bottom.
    But to what end do you want to brand?
    It could be said that my gravatar is my brand, as it is (so far) unique across the web, and identical across twitter, wp and blogger. But there is no product associated with it.


    • That’s a good question Guapo. I’m not sure. I’d like to produce something of value, such as a book, photographs, something. The other reason I’m doing this is because I’m also learning about marketing, and as president of a non-profit professional organization that is coming of late into the social media world, I want to know how to better brand that organization as well.

      Another reason is that I read it was a good thing to do to have a successful blog, and I guess I just want to have a successful blog – whatever that is. Successful for me is different than it would be for a multi-million dollar business. I’m successful when people stop and chat with me, and laugh with me or tell me their problems, or joke around. Connect, in other words. Thanks for making me think Guap! 🙂 Marsha 🙂


  12. I used to own a marketing firm. “Branding” creates a continuity of purpose and appearance using a variety of mediums (visual, written, sound) to establish a strong recognition among consumers. So you pick a central theme, a look, a “something” and then center your “branding” around that. For famous people, their personality or appearance seems to be all they need. When it’s a product or service it’s specific to what relates to the the product or service! I’d say that branding (for us blogging folk), is anything that differentiates you from the crowd – that make “you” stand out! Unique to you.

    Branding is just a small piece of the whole marketing pie (and that can be overwhelming). Keep it simple, uncluttered and as original to you as you can. Hope I was of some value and didn’t confuse the issue more, happy branding! Penny 🙂


  13. I had no idea what ‘brand’ was until I was working in the public sector and people kept talking about it. I guess the big M for MacDonalds is a classic example of a brand. My ‘brand’ I guess is the picture on the top of my WP page or my gravatar. I absolutely love Maddie’s brand and know who it is instantly. I can’t really help you with your brand because I’m still trying to get my head around it 😉


    • I know! It’s not a new concept, but it is hard to think about what describes yourself if you don’t have much to market! You are an author, so that gives you something to start with, but you are not a series author like Maddie, so yours would be harder to define. You could go with the genre of writing, or just your name because you are famous already. 🙂


    • I didn’t like it at first. But now that I have some of my old friends as friends, there is always something going on, and I enjoy skimming down the notifications and seeing what is going on.


  14. I have no idea…what does this all mean? Is it the reason Justin Beaver only has eight friends on Facebook? If you have to have a brand I like the last one best. BTW, I will email you again soon.


  15. I liked the green & white one, nice and simple and easy to remember among all the fancy ones 🙂

    My blog header & gravitational, along with my blog name, are my brand 🙂

    If you are also on Facebook, call over and say hi, to Graham Christopher, because they don’t like brand names there 😦

    Hope to see you when you visit my blog about New (to me) Authors 🙂





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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