Hello everyone! If you’re here that means you’re probably a business owner or blogger extraordinaire, and that probably means that you’ve been told to “brand yourself” once or twice before. Ok, so now it seems that “branding” is just a buzz word used by creatives and entrepreneurs, but it is still some of the most important advice that you’re going to get.
WHAT IS BRANDING?
So the easiest way to describe branding is it’s what people recognize you for. When you hit publish and put your work out into the world, you want people to see it and instantly recognize that it was created by you. A real world example of this is Apple. Their brand is sleek, simple, and stamped with the apple logo. You see the logo and you instantly know who it’s by, but even without the logo a lot of their work is recognizable.
In the blogosphere By Regina and The Nectar Collective are both excellent examples of business women who have their acts together when it comes to branding. If I see something of theirs on Pinterest, you can bet I’m going to check it out and pin it because their content is so recognizably theirs.
HOW DO I CREATE A BRAND?
Oh boy! This is the fun part! Creating your brand entails figuring out what you like and what you want to be recognized for! When working on the brand for this site I scoured Pinterest for color scheme ideas before settling on mustard yellow. From there I was scouring for pictures with mustard yellow that caught my eye and I found this one and this one; both images spoke to my ideal of having a brand that was cozy and bright.
Scour for inspiration.
Your inspiration can be found anywhere, like I said mine was on Pinterest but the possibilities are endless.
- Take a walk and look around critically – are there any shops or gardens or parks that speak to you? Anything that causes you to feel inspired or at peace?
- Are you an artist? Look to the art that you’ve created and your brand is already probably hiding somewhere in there.
- Take online quizzes? They might be silly, but finding out what color your soul is might help you make a decision!
- Follow in my footsteps and create a mood board on Pinterest. Figure out your color scheme and then pin pictures that have you feeling excited to a secret board. Once you’ve got a ton of pictures posted start narrowing it down to just a few.
So you’re inspired…now what?
Now the magic happens. You get to take your inspiration and make something out of it. I recommend making a master list of your key brand elements so you can refer back to them in the future. A few things that you might want this list to include are:
- Brand colors: I recommend 2-3 main colors with a few accent colors thrown in, too.
- Challenge: Get specific. Don’t just say, ‘mustard yellow,’ instead hunt down the perfect shade of mustard yellow and find out it’s hex code. The more specific your branding, the better!
- Fonts: If you can spring it, I highly recommend investing in a unique font. I love The Creative Market’s selection and affordable prices, but there are a ton of different places to find fonts!
- A big way to become recognizable is to use the same font or two on all of your graphics. It might feel boring, but you can flex your creativity elsewhere; once you’ve got a brand stick with it.
- Photography style: Staying consistent in the style of your photography is going to help your graphics become recognizable on Pinterest or other social media.
- There is so much more to photography than snapping pictures. Choose whether you want to play with negative space, minimalism, or something entirely different. Choose a photo style that makes you happy and stick with it.
- Typing style: Now we’re going to get a little bit picky. A lot of branding is in paying attention to the details. These details can be in that you never use a double exclamation point, or that you like to write random asides (like this, this is my thing) then stay consistent. It might seem little, but it will take your brand to the next level.
After you’ve clearly defined your brand you can start creating.
In my case most of my branding work went into the appearance of the blog. I created a custom header in Photoshop, and started customizing a cheap theme that I bought on The Creative Market to align with my brand’s colors. All of that took maybe an hour and it has made all of the difference.
If you’re not confident with Photoshop you can either hire out to have a header created for you (or spring for a whole branding package!) or you can use a resource that makes graphic design easy, like Canva!
OTHER WAYS OF BRANDING YOURSELF!
Branding yourself doesn’t end with awesome graphics and a great theme for your blog. Your brand carries over into the content that you create and your social media.
As far as content goes, you want to consider what we talked about earlier in terms of writing style and finding your voice. Your voice is basically just the tone you are writing in.
- Some people are super casual with their readers, using short hand, emoticons, and might be a bit lax in terms of grammatical rules. This can work for some brands, but if you’re looking to grow yourself as a business you may want to stay away.
- Example: “omg! You guys have to try out this tip i found on pinterest!!”
- The foil to the super casual blogger is the blogger who types in a very scholarly tone, this works for a lot of people, but it can seem a lot less personal so tread carefully here!
- Example: “In case you weren’t aware, you can grow your traffic by 5000% by adhering to these simple rules…”
- And then you’ve got the in between. Most bloggers fall between those two extremes, and for good reason. Each extreme works great for specific people and brands, but for the most part you’re going to want to stay away. Ideally if you’re blogging for business you want to establish yourself as an expert without sounding superior. The tone most bloggers aim for is,”Hey, I know a lot of awesome things and I want to teach you awesome things!” and that is great. You’re being helpful without being a no it all, but you’re talking like a friend without discrediting yourself as an expert.
After you find your tone, find your quirks.
No two bloggers are going to write the exact same (and we wouldn’t want them to!) A great blogger will be recognizable by their words alone, but you need to be consistent for that to become possible. Most of us have quirks in the way we speak, and those quirks can be carried over to your writing in order to define your brand. These quirks can be:
- Phrases you use. I feel like everyone I know has a certain phrase or word that is very ‘them.’ My boyfriend is full of strange grammatical quirks, as are two of my roommates. It can be as out there as you want so long as it’s authentically you.
- Punctuation. A lot of times the punctuation I use would make my English teachers cringe. I like to add commas where they aren’t technically needed, and I spend a lot of time typing within quotation marks. I’m technically breaking rules, but that’s part of my voice.
- Formatting. You may have already noticed, but I’m pretty ‘bullet-point happy.’ I use a lot of bullet points. I just like the way that they break up the post and help make everything so much easier to read. Another example of a formatting quirk is playing with paragraph sizes. I tend to keep mine fairly short, but great story tellers can have long paragraphs that keep readers entranced!
BRANDING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
So I’m late on the train to this one, but branding your social media is totally a thing and it’s an important thing at that. As of the time of writing this I still haven’t branded mine (eep!) but hopefully by the time this is live I’ll have fixed that. What I plan on doing is:
- Adding consistent profile pictures. This is a big one, when Melyssa Griffin or Mariah Coz post on any social media I can instantly recognize that they are the ones who posted, without ever having to look at the username or too closely at the picture.
- Bonus point if you can incorporate one of your main brand colors into your profile pictures!
- Making brand-centric covers. On Facebook and Twitter you get a big area to add whatever your heart desires. Brand yourself there! Make an awesome graphic in Photoshop or Canva that has your brand colors and main fonts!
- Brand your content. If you are a business blogger (like yours truly) it might be super tempting to share 100’s of pictures of adorable puppies; but that isn’t what your audience expects or knows you for. Make sure most of your content is on brand, and everyone once in a while you can post something fun that is off brand.
Whew! That was a lot of information!
So there is a lot to take in there, but it really boils down to one thing: Consistency. If you’re consistently using the same colors, fonts, and tone then you have yourself a brand. Of course when it comes to branding yourself you need to consider factors like how unique your brand is going to be (we don’t need any clones!), how easy it will be to maintain, and if your brand colors are already famous elsewhere (it might be hard to get away with a red and green theme.)
Branding yourself is important, but if you find a brand that you love it should come easy to you. Using colors that you naturally gravitate towards and words that you’d normally use anyhow are really going to help you build a brand you won’t tire of.