Have you ever been browsing Pinterest, seen an image and automatically known exactly what blog it’s from? If not, you may not be as addicted to Pinterest as me. But if you spend copious amounts of time on Pinterest you’ll start to notice. I pin a lot of blogging tips on Pinterest and I can now identify certain blogger’s photos just by the way they look. There’s a word for this. Brand recognition. And it’s super important for your blog. You may be sitting there shaking your head thinking, “Branding is so formal. It’s boring. I have to make all my images the same.” It doesn’t have to be. And trust me, once you do it your life is going to be a thousand times easier. But we’ll get to that. First we have to answer a very important question.
What is branding?
The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products . – entrepreneur.com
I think that definition is a good start. I also think that branding is a lot more than just creating a name, symbol or design. Many people get the terms branding and logo confused. They think that branding is just creating a logo. But it’s so much more than that.
Branding is how you want people to perceive you.
Do you want your readers to see you as the chic, boho chick that likes nature and books? Maybe you want someone to see you as a young, intelligent professional who puts business first. Or maybe you want people to see you as a quirky fangirl who can help you turn the creative mush in your head into success. Sound familiar? If you’ve read my about page, that’s my mission. So how do I use branding to make people see that? Well we’re talking about creativity so I should be creative in my designs. The fangirl part comes out in my blog posts, my tweets, my instagram pictures/captions, etc. And that’s the part that people don’t think about.
Branding goes beyond your website. It’s how you act on social media. It’s how you present yourself to the world.
Nailing down your design is important. But taking it beyond design is when you take branding to the next level. That doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself on social media and in your blog posts. This is your brand. It’s you! Be yourself. Incorporate who you are into your brand. That is when you will really find success. People can identify falsity. If you come across as fake they’re not going to follow you. But if you build your brand around who you are you’ll never have this issue.
Build your brand around who you are and you’ll find success.
Why is branding important?
Branding gives your website and social media accounts a sense of cohesion. If your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and blog all look different, your readers and customers will be confused. It will look like you’re scattered and it won’t give them confidence in your brand. If they don’t have confidence in your brand they’re never going to click that purchase button.
Think of your business or blog like a tree. You have the trunk of the tree which is your blog or website. Then you have all these branches. The branches are your social media accounts, your post graphics, your content upgrades, your product, etc. A maple tree wouldn’t have the branches of a willow tree would it? No. It would have maple tree branches. Okay I don’t know much about trees, but you get my point. Your branches should match the tree trunk!
Cohesion between your blog, social media accounts and products is essential to establishing brand recognition.
This one is the most obvious reason branding is important. You want your customers to recognize you! Remember when I was talking about recognizing images on Pinterest at the beginning of this post? That’s what branding does for you! You want to infiltrate the internet and get people to click on your images. Combining branding with quality content will get people to click through. If people have read your content and loved it and they see an image they recognize as yours, they’re more likely to click on it. It’s as simple as that.
Branding + Quality Content = Higher Traffic
Branding your business and/or blog just makes it look more professional. It shows that you know what you’re doing and that you’ve taken the time to build a brand that works for you. People recognize that effort. It gives you credibility. It establishes trust.
Branding establishes trust between you and your readers – which will turn readers into customers.
Now this is the real magic. Some of you out there may be thinking that branding all your images is boring. They’re all going to look the same. Where’s the creativity in that? There are other ways you can be creative with your business or blog. Content upgrades such as desktop backgrounds. Actual physical products. The way you write your posts. Creative doesn’t necessarily mean pretty pictures. There are many ways you can be creative.
By branding your blog – including your graphics – you are going to save yourself copious amounts of time. You won’t have to create a whole new design for every single blog post. You simply have a template – save as – update and create! It’s so much easier and faster! I’ll show you how to create a template for your blog graphics next week so make sure to subscribe via email so you don’t miss it!
How do you develop your brand?
Okay, I’ve told you what branding is and why it’s important, but how do you actually create a brand? This is where the real work comes in. Use the information below and the free worksheet you can download at the end of this post to develop your brand.
Develop Your Brand Identity
First – before you do anything else – you need to figure out what your brand identity is. This is where you decide how you want people to perceive you. Is your brand like a carefree summer day? Is it a quiet day in the library? Is it quirky and artsy? Who do you want to be on the internet? This is a crazy important step and is the foundation for everything else in regards to your blog and your business. My worksheet goes into more detail on how to determine this.
Brand identity is the foundation for every other aspect of branding.
There are a few questions you want to ask yourself when developing your brand identity:
- How do you want your blog or business to feel when people come to your site?
- How do you want to sound? Are you going to write serious posts? Are you going to sprinkle a lot of humor throughout?
- What do you want people to think when they visit your blog or business?
- The most important question – Who are you?
If you can answer those questions you’re off to a great start!
Choose your name! This is one of the most exciting parts of starting a new venture. Be sure your name resonates with the brand identity you just developed. You want something unique and true to yourself, but also something that’s easy to say and remember. Remember that this is what you’re going to be stuck with for the entirety of your blog or business unless you want to go through a complete re-brand like I just did. Trust me, it’s not fun. Take your time and get it right the first time.
The name you choose is the one you’re stuck with. So take your time and get it right the first time.
Pick two to three colors that you want to use in your web design, images and social media accounts. My colors are gray and pink. The gray gave me the professional, sleek feeling I was going for with my brand identity. But the pink gave it a pop of color that shows my unique, bubbly side. See how easy it was for me to choose colors? Completely due to the fact that I developed my brand identity first. You’ll want to pick colors that go with the feel of your brand you identified before. If the feel of your blog is light and happy, you probably shouldn’t choose a dark color. You want light yellows, blues or greens to give your readers that feeling the second they land on your site.
Don’t choose colors that are extremely bright or hard to look at. If they are so bright that they hurt your readers eyes, they’re going to click off your site. I also recommend that your main background color be light. You’ll notice on my blog that my background is a very light gray and my header and sidebars are a darker gray color. Originally when I did this design I had the dark gray color over the entire background. It was way too dark. It made it hard to read the text and it made the webpage appear smaller than it actually was. Light colors give your website an open, clean feeling. That doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate darker colors. You should just use them as your accent colors. If you’re going to use a patterned background, make sure that it’s not too busy. You don’t want to distract your readers from what they’re really there for – your awesome content!
Don’t choose bright colors that hurt your readers eyes. You want them to focus on your awesome content!
Choose two to three fonts that you are going to use in everything. And yes, I mean everything. These are the fonts you’re going to use on your website, your images and your content upgrades. Just like colors, these fonts should be easy to read. Don’t choose script fonts that overlap and look like a ball of mush. Test out sizes as well. Some fonts look great in large sizes, but when you put them down to 12px they look terrible. You can use script fonts in your heading and/or logo, but the body of your posts should be something easier to read. Think about it. You’re writing 1,000+ word blog posts. Make it easy on your readers eyes.
Script fonts are pretty for headers and logos, but the body text should be a font that’s easy to read.
Yes, this is part of branding. Choose how you want to align your text and stick with it. My posts are all left aligned with important sentences centered using the <h4> tag. I talked about heading tags a bit in the kickoff post to this series – 14 essential steps in my blogging process. Text alignment goes towards images too. Are you going to center the text in all your images? I do, with the exception of my images for my book reviews. The text alignment in those images is dependent on the photo I took. But all other images, you’ll see the text is centered.
Stay consistent when aligning your font in your posts and your images.
Make Everything Match
This seems obvious, but it’s worth calling out. Everything needs to match! That means your blog header should be the same as your Facebook page header and your Twitter header. Your profile pic on your social media accounts should match the one featured on your blog. Your social media buttons should match the design of your blog. This goes back to one of the first points I made.
Making all aspects of your blog and social media match gives your readers a sense of cohesion.
I’ve given you tons of useful information and now you’re ready to go create an epic branding plan for your blog or business. But I want to make things even easier for you. So I’ve created a worksheet to help you through these steps. Make sure to subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss next week’s post on how to actually create these branded graphics I talked about using Canva!
What questions do you have for me on branding? Have you gone through a process like this? Do you have any other branding tips that may be useful to the creative community?