Branding my blog, shaping my identity!

July 17, 2012 · 27 comments

in Inspiration, Relationships

Post image for Branding my blog, shaping my identity!

Hmm, I think I’m finally done fighting with my parents. Hey, just because they’re dead doesn’t mean the battles go away! The difference is that as my own person, I’m no longer suffocated by their tough love. Which means I’m ready to refocus my blog….

If you’ve noticed, I’ve just updated my logo with a new photo of busy me toting some modern day tools with a one-sentence blurb summarizing what this blog is about: “Recovering daughter of strict Chinese immigrants…with new life skills, I’m happy at last!”

Part of me hesitates to add the ethnic reference because I’m concerned it might turn off my  diverse blog audience. I don’t want to lose any of you. As a citizen of the world and mother of a multiracial daughter, I need to be in a mixed community, not one that’s filled with only Asians.

On the other hand, there’s no getting around the fact that I know a lot about the ways most some Chinese parents emotionally torture their kids with the best of intentions. It would make me so happy if sharing my specific experiences helps others from Asian cultures — and any oppressive environment — to break outta the box.

By the way, no one asked me if I wanted to be born to Chinese parents; they were just my ticket into this universe. So I’m hoping now to make peace with my passport. I am accepting the specific setting of my life as the launch point for an exploration of universal themes related to self-expression, creativity, love and personal happiness.

Of course, in order to be successful with this evolving branding game plan, I need your feedback. Depending on your comments, I’m prepared to make changes and brainstorm some more. Any observations you have are most welcome because I trust your judgement. You haven’t steered me wrong yet!

In addition to the new stated theme, I’m fussing over the photos too. Even though you can’t tell I’m holding a wooden spoon with the paint brush or see the pen I’m holding along with the iPhone, does the logo shot work? I fiddled with the author box that appears at the end of each post. (In the photo directly below, the author box is the rectangle in the upper right corner.) I’m worried about my gravatar in the author box. It’s a little headshot cropped from the full body photo — does it look like I have no neck? In case you want a last look at the old logo, it’s in the shot on the lower right corner.

P.S. — I’ve got other ideas rattling around inside of me, waiting to get out. But one step at a time. First, I need your comments on the new look. As always, thank you for being here with your generous, wonderful energy. xo

P.S. — Special thanks to my tech consultant, Lindsay Blair Brown. who executed this new design. Girl, I would be lost without you!

P.P.S. — My shrink, Paul Greene is my rock. During yesterday morning’s session, I went on a bit about how I’m constantly fighting myself, which is exhausting. Makes it hard to complete projects. We talk about when I’m able to be free of that and now I know — when things are fun, things happen. I thought about that all day. And by the end of the day, I had this new blog design. For those of you new to my history on the shrink front, you might like this post: Parents like Amy Chua are the reason Asian Americans like me are in therapy.

P.P.P.S. — Also thanks to my blogging buddy, Mary Quigley. Yesterday afternoon, she talked me through my anxiety about creating a new theme. I  kept trying out blurbs on her and they all sucked. Then just as we were about to end the conversation, I said in off-handedly in closing, “This is really about being a recovering daughter of Chinese immigrant parents…” And we both heard it. “That’s it! That’s your elevator pitch!” she said. For more on how that filtering process works, please check out my post: What is a nut graf? 

P.P.P.P.S. — I will always believe that my mother had a hand in this blog post beacause Sunday, July 15 would have been her 94th birthday. And I totally forgot (until my sister reminded me). With this new blog focus, Mom is front and center as my muse, making sure I’ll never forget her again. Btw, I can’t even remember the date of my dad’s birthday. He’s been dead since I was 19. But now they both get VIP seats in this online living room of ours. Welcome, Mom and Dad. I love you both, more than ever, because you can’t hurt me anymore. xo.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

betty ming liu July 17, 2012 at 8:19 am

I’m gonna run to work now. Catch you later tonight. Thanks for visiting & hope you’re having a great day. :)


ingrid wiegand July 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

In the end, freedom is forgiving your parents, as we hope our children will eventually forgive us for all the things we did wrong. Most of us had parents who had all the same good intentions as we have and screwed up despite everything. That’s just the way it is.


Skye July 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hey Betty, I really like the new pic and the showcase of the different tools. Catchy:)
I’m a little on the fence about the tag line, or theme. I, like so many, really love that you share child of an immigrant stories. I’m. In the same boat. I’m not Asian, but I relate so much as the daughter of Caribbean immigrants. I love this aspect of your blog!

My concern is if this new theme is limiting. There is so much to your blog, the cultural aspects only scratch the surface. I know the other subjects you explore can all be traced to your connection or foundation shaped by your family, but there are some things that are just distinctly you, independent of them. I am sure your parents are in the living room of this conversation, but I would point out that this is your house. You can lay any foundation you want.There’s a room for holistic posts, a room for family postss, a room for reci


Skye July 17, 2012 at 10:28 am

A room for recipes and travel information, etc.
I think it is great you will try to help others in your shoes. I wonder if there is a way to target those readers while still not letting others feel like they can benefit from the blog too. I wouldnt want anybody to skip the blog. I don’t have any suggestions yet, but I just wanted to point that out. I share your blog with many, I don’t want anyone to draw a blank or think they’ve clicked onto the wrong site when they read the tag line. But…I love the effort you’re putting into this!


Skye July 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

BTW, does your tech consultant Lindsay Blair Brown do graphic design or layouts? I know someone looking for an artist who can do layouts for publishing. Can you recommend anyone? I would appreciate it.


betty ming liu July 17, 2012 at 10:37 am

Skye, I’m writing back to you at night after work but inserting it here by changing the time stamp. Just want to make sure you see my answer. It sounds like you want book publishing layout. I would recommend one of my favorite bloggers, Joel Friedlander. Never met him in person. But I’m taking an online class with him now. But if you want to check with Lindsay, just click on her name in the blog post. It will take you to her blog and you can email her there. :)


Charlotte July 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

Love the new look, Betty…Good luck! :)


Kristin Schwab July 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

I’ve just started revamping my website as well and I’ve found myself as indecisive as you seem to be! I like the niche you’ve made for yourself. What if you keep the beginning, “Recovering daughter of Chinese immigrants…” and finish it off with something that truly identifies you now? Yes the first statement gives us a clue, but I kind of want to know how you’re “recovering.” As a single mom? As a woman re-entering the journalistic workforce? Maybe this makes your one-liner too long, but it’s just a thought.

Also, I like that you changed your first page to the blogroll!


Doug Hinrichs July 17, 2012 at 11:03 am

Since you asked, I’ll state my opinion . . .

The “Recovering daughter” blurb might make some people think that your blog is limited to topics only relating to your strict Chinese upbringing. Just a thought.

I love the new pics, but the Gravatar, since it is cropped from that leaning-forward pose, might not be the best choice. Let the world see what a knockout you are!


Ivan July 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Betty, I’m liking the redesign. It is as they say familiar but different in terms of getting yourself and message out there. One thing I could suggest would be a different “betty shot” for each subject, ie a shot with you and a paintbrush for when someone clicks on your art section and a shot of you with a spoon or something when they click on the food section.


mary July 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hi Betty,
You are fast!!! Love the new subhead. I think it speaks to many people–not just Asians. As a therapist friend once said to me when I was complaining about MY mother: “She knows what buttons to push because she installed them.” I think may of us baby boomer women can use advice on uninstalling those buttons.


Toby July 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Betty: I think the strength of your blog has been its diversity. One day it might be about restaurants and the next about emotional issues and the next about art and so on – always interesting and, of course, well written. Regarding the “recovering daughter…etc” line – it might seem limiting and it might give the wrong impression – perhaps – but only if the reader goes no farther. If you want to tweak it a little more, maybe something like “recovering daughter…etc, takes on the world” In other words, perhaps end the phrase with words that open up the scope.


Kelley Dawkins July 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Hi Betty,
I love the new photo! It shows a woman with a variety of interests that she pulls together to have fun in life (as seen by the fun expression on your face). The old photo looks like someone who is always scrambling to pull things together, even though she is determined to.
The tag line also works, with one question. Mentioning that you are Chinese is not a turn-off (it’s pretty obvious from your photo that you are Asian, that’s just an observation, nothing more) and those of us who may not be Asian, but had close friends who were first generation Americans totally understand what that means… so will anyone with strict parents. The only specific way you describe yourself in the tag line is “… daughter of Chinese immigrants…” I only know you through your blog, and words like artist, journalist, and health-food lover come to mind before the ones you chose. The question is, are those the main words you want to use to describe yourself? It seems like you are still identifying yourself through your parents, even though you are working hard to form your own identity.
Those are just thoughts from a stranger, so take them with a grain of salt :).


Brian July 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I like the cute photo’s you have shared.I woke up and found it is Tuesday…The last day I remember is Sunday. Your parents must have been really old when they had you. I guess I should set up an appointment with my shrink. My relationship with my provider and recovery is very diffrent from yours. I go to group meetings on fridays.The VA sent me a letter they want me to set up a meeting with my health care provider for a check-up.
I was looking at your resume on ludkin the other day. It is a blessing to be able to be so open about your life, I thought.
Have you ever thought that you may have choose your life? I mean everything, your parents and all? If come into a play in the middle, having missed the begining and have no idea of the end it dosen’t make any sense. Does it?
My point is that this is all we have been given and I think you are starting to understand this now, that it is up to you to make whatever you can of it. As my grandma use to say “It is a great life if you don’t weaken”, It seems it is the hardships that define who we are more than anything else.
Why does the Eagle make a great cry when it leaves it’s nest ? Is it something to do with the act of becoming? For if he never takes to the air he may as well be a chicken. Taking flight must reach down to the bottom of his soul.
The same goes for us. Without things that reach to the bottom of our souls we are but sprits. But we are not just sprits we are tangable human beeings who also must learn to fly.

P.S. Steven R. Covey, who wrote the Seven Habits of Highly effective People (which included the concept of Win-Win) died today.


Skye July 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I like Toby’s and Brian’s ideas!


betty ming liu July 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Ingrid, I get emails all the time from people of Asian heritage who are in absolute despair over their upbringings. I’m quite sure that the freedom you speak of never occurred to them. It certainly never occurred to me when I was younger. So thanks for making the point.

Skye, I feel your worries. Your emotional reaction is very helpful to me. Let’s see how we can tweak things further. Thanks.

Charlotte, glad I’m on the right track. Thanks!

Kristin, excellent point! Toby and Brian, thank you both too. Now you have me thinking that in some weird way, I have fallen back into being my parents’ daughter. You’re all so right. The sentence has to end with more freedom. Let’s work on it!

Kelley, if you are a regular reader, you are NOT a stranger. Isn’t the online world amazing? I appreciate your heartfelt comments, which make me feel like you know me. Why shouldn’t the other key words have as big a role as “recovering daughter?” I will find a way to get artist, mom and everything else up there. Good point!

Mary, you’re the best! You got me to the right spirit of things. Now let’s see where else we can take this work in process.

Dougie, thank you. I will look for a better gravatar shot. No reason to be looking like I have a Shrek neck.

More tweaks to come. And if anyone has additional feedback, please do share. It’s all helpful. Thank you so, so much for the initial insight!!! xoxoxoxo


Erika Kenny July 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I like the new design, not sure how the tagline will go over as far as alienating or including readers of other cultures…. I think you should leave it, I mean you DO want open-minded readers, don’t you? ;-)
The pic with the gear is cute and fun, I think it’s a keeper (I really liked the previous one, too)
For the gravatar, I think you should go with the “thinking” one at the top right of this post.


Renee July 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Betty, I’m a lurker. White woman in high tech. I first discovered your blog because it came up in a search related to Amy Chua when her article hit the Journal. I really loved your masthead, which showed me you were an artist–both because you were holding paint brushes and because it was an “artsy” masthead. Of course, I’ve since learned that you are back to journalism, have a teenage daughter you love very much, are in tune with good mental and physical health, and you care intensely about your readers! Given that your counter to the Amy Chua lifestyle was what attracted me to your blog, I do think the “strict Chinese immigrants” part of your tagline is in fact part of your brand. You don’t go with the flow. I personally don’t relate to the shrink/therapy comments/insights you make (though I find them interesting) so the “recovering” part doesn’t mean that much to me, but paired with the “strict…” part of your tagline, it reinforces that you found a way around that “standard” method of upbringing. And I love that you now are happy. Bottom line: I think the tagline works.

The picture just needs some tweaking. Without knowing you are an artist, I wouldn’t have recognized the paintbrush and I didn’t see the wooden spoon at all (I only read that you pointed it out). But the content definitely expresses the new you.

As for your headshot, be expressive there, too. You are full of energy and fun expressions. I vote for replacing your current gravatar with the photo you have at the top of this post that has the question mark on it. (with or without the Qmark)

My two cents. I’ll go back to lurking now. Thanks for the entertainment. Whatever you choose, your personality comes through your posts and will continue to attract readers.


betty ming liu July 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Erika, you all are just the best readers ever. No marketing consultant could deliver such nuanced feedback. Now that you’re mentioning open-minded readers, yes, of course, that’s who I want. But you’ve got me thinking that maybe I’m the one who isn’t open-minded enough in my presentation of myself! More tweaking ahead. Thanks for your vote on the gravatar.

And Renee, yours is the second consecutive vote for the thinking photo. I will change it out before the next post, for sure. Thank you both. Maybe the thinking photo will help me think of more ways to coax you out of lurking! Thanks for making a cameo appearance. Nice to know you’re out there.

As for the new logo photo …. my daughter took all of these shots. She comes back from camp on Thursday. Once she settles in, let’s see if I can convince her to take a few more shots. I want the artist to be present in the pic I pick!


betty ming liu July 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Okay. I just changed the gravatar, which also led me to change the text in the author box. Now I can see I was laying the tiger parenting stuff on too thick. That’s not really where my heart is, not what I think about all the time. Guess I’ll be calling my tech Lindsay again, sooner than I expected. :)

And if anyone cares to comment on this detail…should I leave the question mark in the gravatar photo or take it out?


Amantha Tsaros July 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

I am PRO question mark. I say yes. Or maybe I say “yes?”


Jackie July 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Hi Betty: I personally like the new photo. In the old one you look frazzled and that is not you at all. I agree that you can explore different thumbs for different sections, but use the treatment lightly, otherwIse it will get busy. Maybe the tag can refer to what u are holding… At the end of the day, WHAT do you want people to know about you? What is your story? When making presentations at work, this is the first thing I ask my direct reports and they adjust as necessary. You shouldn’t have to ditch who you are to appeal to everyone. If being Chinese and your resulting self discovery journey is your most important story you want you to tell them so be it. Major themes will resonate. Did you see Brave? I’m not Scottish but I saw what Disney*Pixar was trying to convey (although they could have cut the trailers better). Good luck! You are awesome. There aren’t many strong, female Asian voices today.


Erika Kenny July 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Yeah, leave the question mark, it says a lot about who you are ;°]


betty ming liu July 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Yes? Amantha? Thanks? :)

Okay, Erika, will leave the question mark.

Jackie, I am already sick of seeing the words “strict Chinese immigrant parents” at the top of my logo! I’m gonna ask Lindsay to help me remove it tomorrow. Or, soon. You all have given me good brainstorming. I have another idea. Will float it probably next week. ;)


Skye July 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I respect your being so open to all these thoughts. I know it will all come out great!


betty ming liu July 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Are you kidding? I’m the lucky one. No amount of money could buy focus group marketing of this caliber! As always, the comments are thoughtful, insightful and interesting.

Skye, you got me thinking too — you’re right, this living room is mine. It doesn’t belong to my parents. I actually don’t want them sitting here all the time after all. How quick I am to cede my rights. I’m gonna get them out of the logo blurb asap. In fact, gonna email Lindsday right now.


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