In this episode of the Brand It Girl podcast, we are sinking our teeth into the 5 brand elements that you need for your blog! To listen to this episode on iTunes, just head over here or search: Brand It Girl Podcast inside your Podcasts apps, right from your iPhone!
Blogs can be incredibly helpful for your business - it can establish you as an expert, it can help you to grow a community or tribe, it drives new traffic to your website and can improve your SEO.
Just to be clear: what is branding? Branding is all the tangible (or visible) elements and intangible (non-visible) elements that makes up a business’s identity. Branding contributes to the way a business feels and the way a business makes other people feel. And it’s vital as a business owner and as a blogger that you understand that everything you do inside your brand will impact on how your audience will perceive you and who you will actually attract to your brand.
One of the first issues here, is that sometimes when we think about a blog, we don’t consider it as being a business and so we don’t apply the concepts of branding to it. When really, in some cases, blogs can be incredibly successful businesses in their own right and even when engaging with blogging as a hobby, branding and awareness of your target market and readers, will be the things that separating your blog from being merely a journal and will actually attract readers in the first place.
So we certainly don’t want to ignore branding as a blogger!
Now as I go through each of the 5 brand elements that you need for your blog, don’t worry about writing them all down. Of course you are totally welcome to take notes, but to make it easier, I have put together The Branding for Blogs Checklist - grab it by clicking the button down below!
1. Domain Name and Social Handles
Firstly, before you do anything else, think about your brand name. I don’t want you to overlook this or simplify it, because the name of your brand is ultra important! It should be something that you connect with but also something that makes sense about to your readers and signposts what your blog is all about.
I am sure you know that your blog shouldn’t cover all the the things, but just incase, it’s important that you keep your blog focused down to a specific niche or set of topics so as to attract your ideal readers. If you cover too much, your readers will become confused and it essentially defuses your authority and what I call ‘expert status’. So contrary to what some might think, by focusing on just one niche or topic in depth, you are alienating the wrong readers and making it really clear to the right that you are for them.
Your blog’s brand name should take this into consideration. It should speak directly to your ideal reader - and there’s a range of resources out there to help you identify your ideal target market, if you want to fast track it, you can access the Know Your Market training inside my Brand It Boutique Membership. If you think of my brand name for instance, Brand It Girl, it’s very clear I am talking about branding, I am for women and I am interested in speaking to the movers and the shakers, the IT girls of online business. The ladies that want to make a splash and build freedom into their lives! I am talking to YOU! So immediately my ideal audience can identify with that, they are drawn to it and I repel everyone else!
Once you have your blog name has been settled you’ll want to secure your domain name and your social media handles!
2. Your Logo
Next, you’ll want to ensure that your blog has a clear, eye-catching logo. You can certainly make one yourself using something like canva, or you can find a bunch of premade logos on Etsy and Creative Market. However, if you are looking to level up this blog and really grow it into something you can monetize and leverage as a business in the future, I recommend that you have your logo custom made. There’s so many graphic and brand designers out there and if you are struggling to find one, we have a huge community of them inside the Brand It Society, so jump on over and join us for free. You can put a shout out there to find someone to work with.
My top tips:
- Have a HEAP of examples of logos that you like before you start looking for a designer. So do your research.
- Take note of the brands you are really drawn to both in your niche and outside. Search through Pinterest and make a secret board of inspiration.
- If you are struggling with finding logo inspiration on Pinterest, my trick is to come up with 4 or 5 keywords before you start and type your keyword followed by ‘logo’, so for instance elegant logo or fashion logo, and see what comes up.
- When you are looking for a logo designer, you must do your homework. Look at their logo and their portfolio and if you don’t like what you see or it doesn’t align with the types of brands you like in anyway, then they are probably not the designer for you. While I would argue that a good designer can design in any style, designers are human too and they have specific styles that they are really good at and are best at working within, so it’s important that you can at least see something in the same vein as the aesthetic style you’re looking for!
Once you find the designer that you think would be a good fit, show them your inspiration logos that you’ve gathered and brief them with as much detail as you can, including all the info you have about your target market! Always get a variety of file types and sizes and if you can show your designer the area on your blog that you’ll display your logo, that’s a great idea, because they’ll be able to make a version of your logo that fits the area perfectly.
3. Brand Colour Palette & Fonts
Now, as a brand stylist, when I create a brand for a business or a blog, the very next thing I do after creating the logo, is I put together a colour palette and decide on my brand fonts.
There’s nothing more annoying to me than a blog with lots of different fonts and a heap of different colours. It’s just messy and you might think that the content is what really matters and that if the content is good people will keep reading it. And it’s true, the content is super important and without quality content, forget about it! But something you might not realise is that good, and likewise bad, branding sends unconscious cues to your readers.
It’s a psychological thing! When we see brands that are really well put together, that are cohesive and consistent, we feel more comfortable and by into the quality of that brand much quicker and to a higher degree than brands that are a mismatch of fonts and colours.
I recommend that you choose 2-4 colours, perhaps even less and around 2 fonts for your brand and these should be pulled from, or at least related to, your logo. If you do engage a brand stylist or a designer they should give you this information.
Then on your blog, in your blog images, your sidebar, your header and navigation - everywhere - you stick to those predetermined colours and fonts.
Other than this consistency giving your readers that positive psychological cue, it also saves you a heap of time because you are no longer reinventing the well and trying to make these decisions for every new blog post!
4. Brand Photography
Another brand element you should really consider for your blog is quality photography. Now one of my intentions with this podcast is to take the guesswork out of where to invest your money. So this is a big recommendation: I recommend engaging a professional photographer. And that’s regardless of if you are a blogger, a business or a personal brand.
I do understand brand photos are an investment. And you might not immediately think it’s necessary but it will start your brand off on the right foot and if you are looking to monetize your blog, this investment will make you money too!
Ok wait, so I am saying that investing in photos will MAKE you money. That’s right - you heard correctly, but how do brand photographs make you money?
- Brand photos help customers to visualize what it would be like to use to be in your world by looking at the photos on your blog. Subconsciously, we place ourselves into the world of a photo. We imagine that it’s us wearing that latest fashion product or that it’s our desk in that instagram image we are looking at. One of the aims of brand photography is to create a world that your ideal customer wants to be in. They start to create stories for themselves surrounding what that world feels like and how they are within it. Creating a scene that feels simultaneously familiar and inspiring will draw you ideal customer in and they will struggle to let it go.
- Photographs communicate your offering quickly to your potential customers. We have all heard the expression “a photo speaks a thousand words” - this is the exact sentiment we are talking about here! Without saying a thing, your customers can quickly grasp what you are offering on your blog and if they are interested by simply taking in your brand photography. This is why it’s so important to get it right! And why ultimately, good photography will get you paid.
So I recommend that, but I as I said, I also know that this is costly, and it can be hard to keep up with new images for every blog post, if you were to do a shoot for every post, that would just be difficult, unless you are friends with a photographer who can shoot with you regularly!
So one solution I have for you is to use stock photography. There’s lots of stock photography websites out there - shutterstock is a popular one, but no really my favourite. I am a huge fan of Haute Chocolate and also Ivory Mix, so they are both worth checking out - I will link to them in below.
Ok so far we have had: brand name, logo, predetermined colours and fonts and also brand photography. The last branded item I think is vital for a successful blog is blog post templates.
5. Blog Post Templates
Setting out your blog post templates ahead of time is going to save you a load of time and really ramp up your visual brand consistency. Once you have your logo, brand colours and fonts and your photography, you can very easily set up your branded templates in either Canva or in something like Photoshop or Illustrator. You can also purchase pre-made sets from Creative Market, I will link to that in the show notes, or ask your designer to create a set for you.
Some tips when creating your blog post image templates - you’ll want the images to be Pinterest friendly, this means that they are shorter in width and longer in height - it just displays and indexes better on Pinterest. Around 735 pixels wide and 1100 pixels high is ideal.
You’ll also want to make sure that your text is clearly displayed and that it’s easy to read. I recommend always using the same fonts on your blog post images and making sure you really stick to the overall same visual structure - don’t worry people won’t be bored, and in fact the opposite will happen - but I will explain that in a moment.
Pinterest is one of the big factors I am suggesting you consider when designing these templates, but why is that? Well, the total number of monthly active Pinterest users is 150 Million! So Pinterest is quickly becoming one powerful search engine, and for bloggers it’s where a lot of people will be turning to find you! And if you are not already thinking about Pinterest as a search engine, you really do need to - it’s not actually just another social media platform. It’s where millions of people, globally, go to find their information and inspiration on a daily basis.
So we really want to be making sure that our images play nicely with Pinterest. Now, as I said, it’s important that you use the same fonts, colours and overall visual structure. Why would I say this? And remember I also said that you don’t need to be worried about people being bored by the same visual structure. So let me explain that. Consistency is obviously the number one reason why I recommend this, but there’s another reason too: When you follow the same visual structure, your images are the same size and you are using the same, branded, fonts, colours, patterns, textures and even images, something really interesting happens. People start to recognise your posts when they are scrolling on Pinterest. This recognition speeds up over time and it’s that sense of familiarity that gets people clicking on your links long-term.
I know that when I started getting really consistent with the visual identity of my blog post images, my clicks and repeat visitors from Pinterest increased dramatically! Someone who is really good at this is Melyssa Griffin, so head over to look at her posts if you need some inspiration. And while there’s a lot of people who do this well, there’s also an opportunity for you to do this too, because not enough people actually are making the most of this strategy!