The Branding Trap: Niche Branding vs. Broad Appeal?

Have you backed yourself into a corner with your choice of branding? Or are you looking to start a new brand and wonder how broad or narrow your focus should be?

It's a tricky situation. Branding is important from the moment you choose a domain name and making the wrong choice can lead to problems far down the road.

Luckily, there are a few simple principles you can follow, to avoid what I call the branding trap and make the right choice from the outset. And even if you already have an established brand, knowing about this will help you in your content marketing.

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The Branding Diagram

I've summarized the guiding principles for branding in this diagram:

personal branding vs. topic brand diagram

Watch the video for a walkthrough of all the aspects of the diagram and the 2 ways to escape the branding trap.

Specific vs. Broad: The Branding Dilemma

If there's one key takeaway from this entire topic it's this: specificity comes with marketing power.

This presents us with a dilemma. If you have a big audience of fans and followers, you have more freedom and leeway in your content creation and choice of topics to cover. Your fans will be interested in (almost) whatever you have to say. But if you start with a broad, "a bit of everything" kind of brand, it's extremely difficult to build an audience in the first place.

In other words, the narrower your niche or topic, the more effortlessly you can reach people (or rather: people can find you), but the more limited you are in terms of content and topics.

Because of this, it's a good idea to differentiate your strategy for getting traction from your long term strategy. To get from zero to something, it's a good idea to be highly specific and create content that is optimized to gain an audience. For example, content that is search engine optimized, content that is highly shareable, content that you can present to other people's audiences etc.

Once you have gained traction and your audience is growing, you can start branching out (not before).

Over to You

What's your take on this topic? Have you experienced getting stuck in the branding trap as well? Does the model laid out here help you with your brand choice and content creation? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

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About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Baris says:

    Nice topic shane. I think there is a sweet spot where the indicator is shomewhere in between. You should focus on some kind of niche and try to show your personality also. That is what i am trying to achive.

  • Piet Hein says:

    Hi Shane, to be hounest, your model isn’t very clear to me, at least the drawing. But Your explanation around it is! I am now narrowing down from helping people ‘ earning more money with their website’ to ‘make and sell online courses’. I am doing this under my own name… Afterwards I can always go broather to my first approach! Tnx for your thougst in this, it helped me to think about it

    • Thanks for your comment!

      The model wasn’t designed to make sense by itself. I made it for the video, to support my explanation there. :)

  • Jacob Share says:

    This is an issue I’ve been struggling with recently.

    I originally started blogging about looking for a job in Israel, back in 2006. Fairly quickly after I found a job, I started blogging about job search more generally and my audience grew in size and scope, attracting people mainly from any English-speaking country around the world. However, eventually the growth plateaued, many more job search blogs started appearing, and for other reasons, my audience started getting smaller, and that was fine, but engagement went down as well. So I decided to try niching again (around 2015), and aimed for what seemed to be the most engaged segment of my audience at the time – older (40+) job seekers. That worked temporarily, but I realized that ultimately while that segment was the most engaged, there weren’t enough of them to keep the blog going, so I veered back towards general job search and that’s where I’ve been since then. I’d like to try again, but there’s no obvious segment to aim for.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Aren’t there a lot of young people with difficulties finding employment, these days? Perhaps a new segment has arisen. But it could also be that the way people seek to solve this problem has shifted? I’m not familiar with your niche at all, but one approach I use is to try and find out more about what one individual person in my niche does. How do they experience their problem? What do they do to try and alleviate it?

      • Jacob Share says:

        The good thing about the job search niche in general is that it’s massive. Many people are always looking for work, and what most people underestimate is how many *employed* job seekers there are. Some of them buy your courses, hoping to create a life working for themselves, but most prefer the “stability” of working for someone else, they just want a better work situation than they currently have. However – and this is a big one – it’s not an overly lucrative niche because the unemployed job seekers are afraid to spend (not knowing when they’ll earn again) and employed job seekers don’t feel enough pain to spend. Most job seekers (by far) aren’t going to spend even $100 for a job search course including access to an expert (and the expert probably won’t profit much either). They prefer to just browse job sites, applying to as many relevant/appealing positions they can and hope for the best – which is actually the worst way to go about it – until eventually they become so desperate that they snap up the first offer they can get, and ultimately become miserable in the job they felt compelled to take. But at least then they’ve become an employed job seeker… so maybe I should focus more on employed job seekers, but even that’s such a large group, it’s hard to call it a niche.

      • I see the dilemma here, yes. Well described.

        The story you tell here of how people get it wrong and then end up with a crappy job to get themselves out of a desperate situation is compelling. You should definitely use that story in your marketing!

  • Anuj Narula says:

    Shane,

    Go ahead and do a “Maskaa Monday” once a week. Maskaa means butter, or “smooth as butter” in usual parlance. So applying maskaa means making something smooth, rich in taste, or even flattering ;-)

    It could serve as a fun-filled break from the usual business growth, time management and marketing stuff we’re used to seeing.

    Cheers,
    Anuj

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