So you have a great idea for a business or blog, right? You create a name. You decide how you want to execute and you even make it SUPER official and buy your own URL for a new website. But there's one problem. You're having a tough time when determining how to execute the branding for your business or blog, so your customers or target audience will understand your mission and find your business just as appealing as you do.
I cannot tell you how many people I see with amazing business and even blog ideas, but when it comes to executing them in a way that will attract an audience or buyers, they unintentionally repel people with bad branding. Trust me, I'm an expert on this because I was one of them when I first started my blog.
Once I came up with a name, I purchased my first logo from a random logo design website. For the actual page design, although I had a vision in mind, I found it difficult to execute it well. I used a tiled background with a pink vanity image to cover the whole page (see the throwback screenshot below). The opening page was filled with a bunch of text, and my photo quality was terrible. In my defense though, the blog was just a passion project for me at that time, just something I was doing for fun, and I wasn't trying to make a business out of it then, so having top notch branding wasn't crucial.
But for those who are selling products or who want to monetize their blogs, it is crucial for your brand design be on point. As I've said before, people are visual and they want to find everything easily, so if they land on your site and get confused or are turned off by the packaging or the dated brand design, they will quickly leave your site. In this post, I will include some branding basics to help you get a strong start or to polish up your existing brand image. Even if you're hiring a designer to do your branding for you, these tips will help you to gain more clarity on how you want him/her to execute your vision. The more clear you are about what you want as a client, the better the designs will be.
What is branding?
As defined on Entrepreneur.com, branding is the practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. It goes on to say that your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services. If you combine the proper elements of a strong brand well, you can ensure that your business is perceived how you intend it to be.
Step 1: Gain clarity on your business or blog
So you may be thinking, where do I even begin to create strong branding for my business or blog? This will require some introspection and some clear articulation from you. You first need to gain clarity on your business or blog and why it is even in existence in the first place. Knowing your "why" will make it much easier for people to connect with you.
What is the mission/purpose of your business or blog?
Ask yourself the following questions: How is my business/blog affecting others? What am I providing to my customers/readers? Don't necessarily think of this as the physical product. Think of it in the intangible form.
Who are you targeting?
This needs to be very specific. Your business/blog will not be for everyone and that is perfectly ok and that is really what you want. As I've heard time and time again in entrepreneurship, businesses/blogs that try to target everyone end up targeting no one.
What problem are you solving?
Once you get your target audience defined, your next step is to determine what problem your business/blog solves for them.
What adjectives do you want people to think of when describing your business?
Think about this as long as you need to. From my experience, I can tell a lot of people tend to overlook this. You need to be able to say, my business is "polished and upscale." Or my business is "fun and whimsical." Knowing how to describe your business will give you direction.
Step 2: Brainstorm and research good branding
Once you lay the foundation during step one, you are equipped to do brainstorming and research in an informed and intentional way.
Do a “brain dump” of your own ideas.
Start by jotting down any and every idea that comes to mind when it comes to how your business is presented, visually. This can include logo ideas, fonts, colors, slogans, layouts, symbols that compliment your business...literally, anything.
Check out other sites/logos and take note of anything you like about them.
Once you do your brain dump, move on to the good old World Wide Web. Google businesses/blogs using terms that will populate search results of businesses/blogs that are similar to yours to find websites to draw inspiration from and to get an idea of what people in your industry are doing well and what they can do better.
Step 3: Develop your own brand identity
Now that you have your clear foundation of your business/blog, along with your research and ideas, you can finally move on to developing your own brand design.
Decide on the type of design/layout that you want to have.
Based on your foundation from step one and the brainstorming and research from step two, you're now ready to develop your own brand identity. First, you decide what type of design will work best for you. This is where those adjectives from step one really come in handy.
Choose colors that fit your brand.
Deciding on colors is crucial. Colors all convey certain meanings subconsciously. Choose colors that fit your vision, but that also complement each other well and have meanings that complement your business/blog. Here's an article on color meanings that you can check out.
Choose fonts that convey your message.
Font choices speak volumes about your brand. Do not use dated font and do not use a font that you can find in Microsoft Word.
Different fonts convey different meanings, too. Sans serif fonts are often used for very traditional designs. Serif fonts are more modern. Calligraphy fonts are feminine. Be intentional when choosing a font that your target audience will find appealing.
Design a logo that is appropriate.
Your logo is the primary visual identity for your business. It can consist of text only, text and a symbol, a symbol only, or just a few letters. It's totally up to you.
Step 4: Consistently use your brand across all mediums where your business has a presence
Having a cohesive brand that fits together, no matter where someone comes across your blog or products is essential to solidifying your brand identity to others.
Implement your new branding on your website with your logo, web page layout, colors, and font choices. Keep the website consistent as a whole. Make sure the layout fits the adjectives you identified and the research that you did on design elements.
Social Media Sites
Your photos and images with text should all tie into your brand somehow, whether they give a glimpse into your everyday life, show a preview of new content or a new product you just made, etc. Consistency and quality are definitely the key here because there's SO much noise online now and if your content looks inconsistent or visually unappealing, it will be more difficult to capture the attention of a busy potential reader/customer.
Other Means of Communication
Use the same logo and similar layout as on your website on flyers and/or brochures, business cards, and within your email list communications. Everything should look like it belongs together, like “little brand family members.”
So to close, I just want to remind you to please be intentional about what you release. You're telling a story at the end of the day and it's YOUR story and your brand story. If you want to stand out in today's crowded marketplace, quality is key.