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The header image from Chii’s About Me page features a lovely still from an anime.

“Home-cooked recipes, inspired by Asian cuisine with a touch of Western-style.” This is the enticing promise (and tagline) of Chii’s Sweet Home blog. In this review, I’ll be presenting my assessment of Chii’s progress towards developing her branding goals for herself and this virtual space—from self-conception, to content, to branding. I begin with an overview of the blog’s tagline, mission statement, and About section, followed by an analysis of the content from a variety of strategic angles.

Out of the gate, as a reader, I felt immensely compelled by Chii’s About section. It fleshes out, in fuller detail, her impetus in creating this particular blog as the hub of her professional self! To summarize briefly, Chii has gone through a real evolution when it comes to her relationship to food. Once she finally had the time and space to cook for herself, it blossomed into a passion and a form of self-care. She ends with “Mission statement: As long as your fridge is not empty, there is always a decent home-cook meal for the day.” While I find this to be quite a sweet and fitting sentiment, I feel that the tagline (see my opening line) more clearly captured what’s at stake with this site’s personal branding. Compared to some of the mission statements we’ve been given as examples, Chii’s current iteration of her mission statement could arguably be bettered by explaining the “for what” or “to what end” that is more fundamentally at stake with this brand. With that said, here, Chii’s writing comes across as sincere and heartfelt, and the cozy pink used throughout her site felt in keeping with this sweet tone. (As an aside regarding this visual decision, though, I’m not entirely sure that sugary pink always compliments the foods’ images to the best possible extent compared to, say, fresh white or a savoury green.) All in all, this introduction sets a personable tone for the website and I repeatedly refer back to its valuable information in the following review.

This About Me passage also details Chii’s particular relationship to both Vietnamese cuisine and more Western recipes. In this manner, I find that Chii does a good job of hinting at revelations and discoveries that she has made along the way. The unique cross-cultural experience that Chii’s Sweet Home describes is one that I feel could really be the bedrock of her positioning, if it is returned to consistently. I make this assertion in concert with Seth Godin’s words when defining a brand, that the core considerations ought to be “the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives”. So, I found the About Me to really be key in creating the perfect amount of intrigue as to all these… without giving away too much! It could be a great foundation for self-mythologizing and setting herself apart in her other posts—because the reality is that there are so, so, so many food-related blogs and brands out there. How does Chii want to differentiate herself? I have largely focused on the About Me because it does a beautiful job of sketching this out as compared to some other recipe posts which are a bit sparse, and don’t benefit from a repeated allusion back to the tagline or mission statement. In practical posts, such as the one outlining different varieties of rice and how to cook them, Chii began talking about differences between Northern and Southern styles. This was an opportunity to explain just a little further about cultural differences in a manner that enhances and connects back to the overall brand: even one or two concluding sentences could have helped circle back to the core brand messaging. In other words, this is circling back is very doable if there’s the recollection on the creator’s part to tie this proverbial bow on top. I am convinced that Chii’s success plan would benefit from further honing, consideration, and generating more content which better builds up this valuable context and personal touch.

From the building blocks I have suggested above regarding positioning, I can easily envision a bright path forward for Chii as far as her branding is concerned. She is on her way!

To extrapolate from, and quite importantly for our class aims in furthering the professional angle of ourselves in this course, comes a question of monetization. If you ask me, Chii’s Sweet Home has a good array of potential money-making options on the horizon because there’s a lot of options for food blogging (after all, everyone’s gotta eat!) More thought could be put towards what strategy Chii feels would suit her inclinations best. And while I recognize that this is not intended as the primary focus of this first peer review, I feel that in Chii’s case, it is best to begin to thinking about some of the following considerations from the very earliest stages to develop a sense of consistent specificity (explained below) that would make endorsements less obvious down the line.

For example, perhaps Chii would like to begin monetizing by featuring particular branded food products. In such a scenario, explanatory food comparisons or efficient recipes could easily feature sponsored content. I see this as a very implementable strategy if there’s a repeatable consistency to this set-up. (Notably, though, it would perhaps be wise to repeatedly make such specifications about particular ingredients from the get-go.) With this first step, Chii could begin naming which particular brands she uses, regardless of whether she is sponsored or not. In practice, this could look like specifying what brand of, say, Gochujang sauce would be her preference. An additional way to think about this could be by featuring a “haul” from a particular store, which is also generally a good prompt for a post. Plus, this could be used in combination with any advertising revenue garnered from the YouTube videos Chii hints as an aspirational next step (see About Me page). Lastly, another option would be affiliate links or featuring an affiliate product as a recurring add-on or garnish to many of Chii’s favourite dishes. Whatever the case may be in terms of preferred monetization, I do feel that the early development of Chii’s professional “self” would benefit from some forethought in this arena. This is essential because these monetization considerations may help Chii in generally providing focus and further shaping her personalized recipe content within the highly competitive and oversaturated food bloggosphere.

To expand on that latest thought, I feel that Chii’s main focus going forward should be in further refining and polishing her habitual content. This is also where the importance of visuals comes into play as an important characteristic in the development of her identity branding, which has an emotional and sensorial basis (Suzanne Norman, Week Three Slides, PUB201). I can see that Chii has uploaded a delightful couple of tasty-looking recipes already: One thing that I appreciate about these posts is that they have very clear instructions/ingredient lists, and are therefore easily implementable! Who doesn’t love that? If Chii prefers to post quicker snippets or shorter-form content… perhaps TikTok, YouTube Shorts, or Instagram Reels would be suitable social media as opposed to YouTube. (Although Chii has suggested in her About Me that YouTube is an aspirational stepping stone for her professional self, I would argue that YouTube videos generally lend themselves better to explanatory or generally longer-form content. This necessary chattiness isn’t currently reflected, in my view, in the recipes Chii has published so far.) Content from one of those short-form, algorithm-driven platforms already mentioned could really help Chii build an audience by participating in relevant hashtags or trends that carve out a niche, in keeping with Seth Gordin’s model of building an audience. Such shorter video content would hypothetically enhance the professional self created on the Sweet Home website if it were embedded within recipe posts; also nonverbal encouragement for viewers to follow along on multiple (more visual) platforms. After all, as we learned in this week’s PUB201 lecture via Suzanne Norman, “people retain 40% more of visual images than written text or audios”. In returning to what is already on Chii’s Sweet Home blog, one of the primary downsides is that Chii’s template does not seem to feature thumbnail images for her recipe posts. This is unfortunate because food is so connected to our other senses (including our eyes)! So, having recipe-attached photos more prominently on display as a main characteristic of the website would be ideal for browsing. Already, newcomers to Chii’s Sweet Home do benefit from the close-up images as the topmost header image. And while I appreciate that these header images do rotate depending on which Menu section (e.g. Blog, About) is selected, I think that a rotating gallery of images highlighting to Chii’s main recipe posts would be an even better visual weight for the front page. It would also help followers more quickly find the “Blog” content without having to sift through PUB-related content.

As a final note, I would like to return to one key characteristic I stressed early on—that Chii’s Sweet Home is personable and approachable in tone. In my view, the best personalities within the foodie realm of online content tend to have a palpable sense of authenticity or sincerity. (Chii seems to exclude this naturally.) One such example would be Delish’s YouTube star and video producer June, who carved out a niche by doing sets of weekly meals on an astonishingly low budget. I bring her up because she reminds me of Chii’s lovely balance between educational and experimental recipes that are ingredient-lead. This is an example of food-related content creation that is built upon the kind and genuine approach of the creator in sharing her passions. However, June’s authenticity literally comes across differently because she is willing to put herself on camera. I wonder if Chii ever aspired to do the same for YouTube? Assuming this is not the case, I would encourage Chii to invent some sort of mascot or character which could reflect the essence of her character and become a reliable “face” motif across posts. This Vietnamese microinfluencer uses a cute dumpling, for example. Just remember that it should be your own creation (i.e. intellectual property) so that you do not run into legal issues regarding a logo or visual identity.

In sum, Chii has made solid steps forward in differentiating herself, but there are still aspects to the presentation and dissemination of her content which could benefit from further branding efforts in the weeks ahead. To her credit, Chii has set up a clear and concise tagline, and has already written about and identified her “why” in an easily accessible way on her blog. That being said, much as Chii can demonstrate an appealing sense of authenticity and genuine passion in her tone, this is not always peppered within the everyday posts themselves. Ultimately, going forward, Chii would benefit from increased efforts towards visual refinement and content differentiation to show off her unique strengths, ideally alongside multimedia content uploading in order to build out her intriguing professional self on Chii’s Sweet Home.

I am excited for her path ahead! Be sure to check out Chii’s Sweet Home for some tasty recipes.


Caroline Forsay, “Here’s How To Write an Impressive Personal Mission Statement”

Seth Godin, “define: Brand”.

Seth Godin, “Tribes Casebook”.

Suzanne Norman, “Week Three Slides”, PUB201. Spring 2022.

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