First of all…let’s make a couple of assumptions.
- You’ve got a blog. What platform did you choose? (WordPress.org is my FAVE!)
- It’s got a name…hopefully one that’s simple to remember and not too long.
(If this is as far as you’ve gotten, check out You’ve Got a Website, Now What?“)
Now…let’s hit the road running! Brand all the things!!!
Your blog, once you’ve got a domain name picked out and it’s up and running, needs a great design. The platform you choose, the theme you implement and your graphics all play into your branding. But before that, let’s talk about what branding is. Because guess what? It’s not just about how your blog looks or your media! There’s so much more to branding than that.
So what is branding if it’s not just images? Where do you start?
Gah! It’s a big undertaking. And it may take you a little while to settle into your blog’s brand and make it well defined. Let’s start by answering these questions.
What is the purpose for your blog?
Have you found your niche? Even if it’s very broad, knowing your purpose and having a firm grasp on why you want to blog, plays into your branding.
If your blog is going to be for 30 something women, your branding should be appealing to them. Need help? Look at some of the big companies that have those people for their target audience and analyze their branding. Then imitate them! Don’t copy, though!! Never copy. Just say no.
What is your personality…your writing style?
How will that play into your blog? Are you going to be casual and conversational? Or maybe you’re an expert and are providing facts and figures and want to sound professional. That will definitely play into how you choose to brand your site.
What is your overall look?
Do you want to have a website that is professional, whimsical, practical, creative? Colors matter. Fonts matter. Mood matters. Choose a color scheme that matches your personality or the feel of your blog.
What will your images on your site look like?
Color photography or B&W? Deep vibrant colors or softer vintage ones? Or are you going to use solid background images? I’ve seen some very eye-catching blogs that have hardly any photography on them, but are full of visually interesting content because of how they use solid color backgrounds on their images. I’ve actually got that in mind for my next rebranding of this site. (But that won’t be anytime soon!)
What kind of content will you have?
If you let others write for you, what guidelines are in place? Allowing others to be a part of your brand requires trust on your part and clear guidelines that are followed by others. Trust me when I say that I have learned this the hard way.
As the owner of a sometimes haphazard collaborative blog, where I gave away most of the control to each of the bloggers, I’ve had to make many many adjustments to help us stay focused and create unity when it comes to content. Ultimately it comes down to whether I want the added responsibility of creating that brand and cohesiveness or if I want to let them do their thing. Finding the balance that works for all of us has been hard.
All of the answers to those questions will play into your branding. Now…how do you put those answers to work for your site and your social media content?
[clickToTweet tweet=”#Branding basics…because having a good consistent brand is more than just pretty graphics.” quote=”Branding basics…because having a good consistent brand is more than just pretty graphics.”]
If you’re stuck at the beginning of the whole Branding process, wondering how to make your blog become something cohesive and beautiful and inviting, you can either rub on some elbow grease, hit Pinterest and YouTube and learn how to do it yourself. OR you can hire someone (like me)…someone who loves creating and branding and all of the techie stuff…to do it for you. If you’re wanting to earn an income from your website, consider investing in a logo up front.
If you decide to DIY it, I recommend creating a Pinterest board and gathering some inspiration such as fonts, backgrounds, and color palettes that you’d like to incorporate into your site. Something like this: Website Inspiration.
Then narrow your choices down to what you love. Even if you’re hiring someone to create your blog/blog header/logo, this is still a great exercise and resource. When your designer asks for ideas of what you love, you’ll have something concrete (or at least a gathered digital curation) to give them…all with one little link!
And honestly…don’t overlook the power of a simple text logo for branding! (Ever heard of Elle & Company?) It’s a great way to get started, especially if you don’t have money to invest right at the beginning.
Once you’ve settled on the look of your website, the next step is to carry that into all of the images created for social media and your blog. First and foremost, make sure your branding is tailored to engage your tribe. Your secondary aim should be to create such consistent content that anytime someone sees an image you’ve created or content from your site, they’ll know it came from YOU at first glance.
How can you do this? Where do you start?
- Know your type. Or rather your typeface…better known as a font. Know what it is. Even if you choose not to have it match your logo, it should be consistent or at least have a consistent look and feel. For instance, you could choose to have all hand-drawn looking fonts or professional looking fonts. But don’t keep switching back and forth. Settle on a look. Using the same fonts on all of your images will help create some brand recognition.
- Be consistent with the overall appearance of the photos you use. If all of your blog posts have high quality, perfectly lit food photos in them, don’t post a recipe with a late-in-the-evening, poorly lit grainy photo. Wait and do it right. Pick a location and time of day to snap your photos in natural light and stick to it if you’re taking your own photos of products, food or DIY projects.
- If you’re using stock photography, keep in mind a general look as you choose your photos. Or edit them with filters to give cohesiveness. If you look at the graphics for this series, you’ll see that all of the images take advantage of white space and I use watercolors and the same two fonts consistently throughout the graphics. I love playing with fonts, so that sometimes feels like a restriction to my creativity, BUT it also means I can create the graphics much more quickly because I’m not having to decide what fonts to use.
- Put photo masks or graphic elements to work for you. Maybe you’ll choose to have a border on all of your photos. Or you use a certain flourish under all of your titles. Or perhaps all of your graphics contain a circle mask over them that the words appear in. I’ve tried it all in my quest for branding. Truly. Some I love some more than others. Try settling in on a few and then mixing and matching so that they all have a unique look (better for Pinterest!) but are still easily recognized as yours.
- Incorporate a watermark of some kind. I don’t know why, but I’ve had the hardest time settling on a watermark for this site. Or rather, I do know why…my “logo” isn’t really a logo. It’s a blog header. And so I’ve been brainstorming ideas for an actual logo that I can use for business cards and to watermark my photos, but still has the look and feel of my site header. Watch for that to come soon! In the mean time, I’m using text.
My absolute favorite example of outstanding branding on a blog is Spruce Road, who just so happens to be a branding expert. I want to be like her when I grow up. 😉
- Do you have a logo? If not, that’s a great place to start! Even just a cute font pairing of your blog name and tagline can be a great place to start to create your own logo.
- Look at your visual content. Is there continuity or is it all over the place? If not, take some time and brainstorm what you want that look to be. What type of photos do you want to use? What type of fonts do you want to use? These are all things to consider as you work on your branding strategy.
- Consider making a branding board. Pull snippets and photos from the web that inspired the look and feel of your site into a Picmonkey collage.