This week, we’ll be diving into some of the brand essentials every blogger needs to support their efforts in the online market place.
Let’s talk about brands, baby.
A brand is how your audience perceives you, not the reverse. You could say that you’re a chic fashion blogger, but if your logo and website scream early 2000’s, you’re in trouble. Visitors may perceive you as less-than-chic. In fact, they probably won’t come back. You’d like them to perceive you as fashionable and maybe even iconic. Your brand should match your persona. And if it does, they’ll think of you are a fashion role model; someone who knows what they’re talking about even if they’re just getting started. And that, my friends, is why your brand is so important.
So how do you go about establishing your brand? In our experience, there are some essentials that every brand (blogger or not – but ESPECAILLY bloggers)—need as part of their marketing foundation. These are the items that your efforts cannot live without. They are your business’ key recognizable visuals, and they need to be good.
HERE ARE 3 INTERESTING STATISTICS ABOUT WHY BRANDING IS SO IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
Research has shown that the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.
43% of people admit to skimming blog posts. (Source) So that means, the visuals you produce are super important!
Blog articles with images get 94% more views. (source).
SO WHAT ARE THE MAIN ESSENTIAL VISUALS YOU NEED, AS A BLOGGER?
1. A CLEVER NAME, AND A LOGO.
If you think you can get by without a logo, or create one with type yourself in your favorite page layout program, think again. A professionally-designed brand identity along with a corresponding sub-mark is probably the most important piece of your brand puzzle. Like your fingerprint, it should be unique, descriptive, clever or symbolic. Stay away from trendy typefaces and clashing colors. Go for classic, strong, memorable and more importantly, SIMPLE. We’ll get back to why your logo should be simple, later on. But for now, know that your logo is something that should stand the test of time, be extremely flexible, and something you should be proud to show off. After all, it’s going to be used on EVERYTHING from social media to products to your website to tee shirts…
Where to start? There are lots of options when having a logo developed. If you’re low on budget, consider this one of the things you should save and invest on. You can build everything else from your logo. Without this key item – you’re sort of at a standstill in terms of brand development.
2. A BRAND STYLE BOARD
A style board is something that should be developed simultaneously with your logo. The logo will inform many of the elements within the rest of your brand, which is what is typical found on one. Style boards define things like your brand color palette, typography and imagery styles, maybe even textures or patterns, and icons. All these items come together and the sum of them is what becomes your overall brand. It’s a tool that will come in handy in a multitude of ways – you’ll refer to it when you want to get something printed, you’ll check it when you’re having your website built, you’ll show others that you collaborate with your style board to get them in the same visual mind frame as you are. Maybe most importantly, a style board is something that helps you stay consistent. Some bloggers even like to include certain brand messaging, which helps set the tone for your writing. But more on that later.
3. A SOLID ONLINE PRESENCE THAT WORKS WELL AND LOOKS GOOD ON MOBILE DEVICES AS WELL.
Your blog design is perhaps one of the most important instances where your visual style and brand will come together. It’s the lifeblood of your business. Ideally, you want visitors to return again and again, so creating a visually-appealing as well as well thought-out user experience is not only important, it’s vital to the health of your blog. In our opinion, some blogs out there that have really great websites are Pizzazzerie, Pink Peonies and Digital and Computer Arts
Remember, you want your content to shine! Make sure you have all of your UI (User Interface) elements thought through – everything from Call to Action buttons to read more links to how you display your social feeds. Which brings me to…
4. A POLISHED SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Second to your blog, your readers will be engaging with your social media accounts most often - (hopefully) on a daily or weekly basis. Your social visuals should be consistent as well. We would suggest an established style of photography and maybe you use a template for social chips, the images that go with your posts. You want readers to recognize your brand each time you post, and catch their attention as they are scrolling through their feeds.
Another item that can help you stand out on social media is a custom animated logo bumper. This is a short, 3-second animation of your logo that serves as the intro and outro to any video content you post. A fabulous example of a logo bumper can be found on The Motherchic’s YouTube. Looking for some inspiration? Here’s an interesting blog post to check out.
5. EMAIL TEMPLATES
By now, hopefully you’ve gotten on the inbound marketing train. If so, you’ll know that email is one of the easiest ways to reach your followers and to get them to engage with your content. We suggest having two templates created, to cover all of your needs. Make sure they’re flexible enough so that you can swap various headers in and out for various cases.
General branded template
This serves as a digital header for basic communications, thank you for signing up or registering or even just quick little promos. It keeps things looking polished and consistent without going overboard on imagery or design.
Latest Blog Post template
Include not just an excerpt from your latest blog, but also things like your social feeds, other related posts, or your own “ads” for promoting upcoming posts.
So how do you actually use those templates? Unfortunately, you can't just send them out via your Gmail or other web-based email account. You need to use a marketing automation software which will help with things like list creation and storage, analytics like tracking opens and click-throughs as well as setting up complete campaigns. We personally love MailChimp for it's super-simple and easy-to-use interface which probably meets the needs of most bloggers out there, but there are other marketing automation tools, like Constant Contact, and Marketo which are also great if you're looking for something more robust.
Hopefully we've given you enough here to get a good start! Invest in these items and you'll be ready to take your blog to the next level.