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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Character Blogs as a Branding Vehicle

By Rok Hrastnik

Friday 29 April 2005, by Webmaster

Character Blogs as a Branding Vehicle : An Essay On the Use of Character Blogs to Extend the Brand

Character blogs are starting to generate interesting feedback within the blogosphere, getting people on either the positive or the negative side of the fence.

Steve Rubel is one of the stronger voices against character blogs:

"I have been holding back on this for awhile, but it’s now time for me to unload. I’m sorry, but I believe character blogs are a complete waste."

"Character blogs are a waste of time because a character is not and never will be human - unless it’s Pinocchio."

Don’t the companies running character blogs understand the blogosphere?

Probably not, and in some cases they’re better off not understanding. The blogsphere as it is understood today is "a conceptual product" of the people that started it, the early blogging adopters.

But the blogging landscape is changing quickly, as blogs reach out to more and more people every day. The fundamental rules of the game, which have been formed since the early days of blogging, no longer need to apply.

My reasoning behind this is that blogs are no longer intended strictly to the "small" cirle of people who grew up with blogs and created the blogosphere. They are now main-stream and most of their readers don’t really know or care about the fact that they’re reading a blog.

To them a blog is just another site with a somewhat different content structure than the norm, and with a different voice than your standard corporate speak.

This "new" bread of blog readers don’t really care about "the rules", especially those readers that just want to be entertained. And I’m quite certain that the readers of character blogs (especially younger audiences) are exactly after that: entertainment.

For them, it’s not about transparentcy. It’s not about a human voice. It’s not about having a more personal relation to the company and what’s going on behind the scenes.

It’s about entertainment in its purest form and finding improved ways of relating to the brand and the characters that embody it.

Does a ten year old care about the person or the company behind Mickey Mouse? Does he want to read about how the character was developed, what’s going on behind the scenes and so on?

In most cases, no. He just wants to hear more from that character, even make him part of his daily routine, "watching" how he lives out his life.

What the "nay sayers" against character blogs just don’t seem to get is that there’s a whole world of people out there not interested in "transparent" content about the company, the product or the brand. They’re interested in the brand itself and what that brand stands for.

They don’t care about the people behind the brand, but only about the brand itself. If this weren’t the case, what would need brands for anyway?

Blogging is changing and it’s becoming something that many people that started it all don’t like. But it’s the same with practically every channel development. Eventually, it turns out in to something no one expected it would.

There’s place for both "transparent" blogs and for "character" blogs, with each serving a different purpose. Character blogs are pure entertainment, while "transparent" blogs serve as a communicational channel between the company and its many audiences.

This is only theory for now of course, but good character blogs should be able to establish a bridge between the brand (character) and its brand consumers.

Character blogs should facilitate interaction with the brand itself, and what it stands for. Brands are people, but they’re really much more than that; a combination of values, people, processes, expectations and so on.

Now, many brands "employ" many different characters, such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from Star Wars. Each of these characters has a different personality and a different set of core values.

Imagine the opportunity here, if companies started developing individual blogs surrounding these characters, further expanding their reach. Each blog would be a character blog, written in the voice and with the personality of its character, becoming a platform for new stories and conversations based on that very character.

Just imagine a Darth Vader blog, where Vader "talks" about his life, his feelings, his views and so on, set in the Star Wars experience. This would be a unique opportunity for the consumers to deeply explore the character and get to know it in completely new ways, but remaining faitful to the "orinigal".

Another approach would be to take Vader out of the Star Wars universe and apply his character to the present time and our universe, commenting on daily world events through his personality.

The possibilities are quite overwhelming and there’s no "one size fits all".

Let’s take a look at the "Buffyverse", the universe created behind the hit TV show (now deceased) Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The producers could in fact create multiple blogs to serve different people with different interests.

a] Character blogs, "written" by the actual characters in first person, as sort of diaries expanding on their feelings and thoughts on what’s going on in the show, as the show is broadcasted.

We could have a "Buffy blog", where buffy shares her innermost feelings about what went down in the actual show, for instance telling us how she felt in-depth after Spike’s attempted rape, or a "The First blog", where The First Evil tells us of its plans and its feelings about comfronting Buffy.

Character blogs would be an ideal channel for the producers to expand the show and its various characters, make them feel more alive.

Would these blogs have such an affect if they were signed by real people? Probably now, as "real people" would make character blogs less authentic and real.

This just goes to show that there are more sides of the "authentic" coin.

b] However, for those readers that want to hear from the actual people behind the story, the plot writers and Whedon himself could write about where the character is going after each show, what lessons he learned and how the character "feels".

c] And for yet another audience, the tech experts behind the show could explain how they produced certain effects, what challenges they encountered and so on ...

d] And then we could have the "corporate" blog, where Whedon would talk about his dealings with the TV network and what it takes to procude such a show, and so on.

Something to satisfy every taste ...