Visual Branding Basics for Bloggers
One of the most important parts of starting your business is how you go about choosing your visual branding strategy. When I first started in blogging, in business, in everything, I had no idea what branding was exactly. In a nutshell, branding is any and everything that defines your business and how you perform your operations. Visual branding is how you convey that message to your audience through your brand message, logo, graphics, and website design.
The best thing about branding is that it’s created through vision and inspiration. You can literally define your brand as anything you choose, so go heavy on the creativity. Branding is an art, and there are definitely levels to this. It’s more than just having a pretty logo or a making some random shade of purple your theme background.
So what is visual branding? And how do I get started?
The text book answer is to sit and brainstorm. If you’re like me, putting ideas on paper is the way to go. I love having something to reference back to, and iPhone notes never cut it for me… out of sight, out of mind. You’ve got to figure out how to mix what both you and your ideal customer (or reader) want out of your brand, what feels natural and authentic to you (because you’ll be the one creating the content or product), and what types of practices you’d have to implement in order to accurately reflect your brand image. Pinterest is a great way to find some ideas and keep them in a central location that easy to browse.
Let’s chat about some branding basics that you need to have down pat before you expect an audience, or customers, to start flocking to you. And just to get real with you, they won’t come if their confused about your business and what you offer.
Working with a professional graphic designer isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out and have a small business, but it’s highly recommended. This is important if you’re wanting emblems, or specific insignia that represents your brand. If you’ve got some design experience, I don’t see why you couldn’t wing it yourself, at least in the beginning stages. The great thing about designers is that they’ve got access to tons of graphics, stock photos, and fonts that an Average Jane probably wouldn’t have, and normally you’ll get multiple files to use for different projects. So instead of only giving you a .jpeg, you’d also get a .png that can be used as a watermark. Consulting with a designer about your logo design is a great investment for your business. However, your logo design shouldn’t stop at just your website or your business cards. Make it a point to brand yourself wherever: on Instagram, Tumblr, Youtube… make it happen! It takes people an average of seven times to see or hear about your business name before they even decide to give you a second look. Want to know who my graphic designer is? Check her out here. She was simply awesome to work with!
Some free and inexpensive resources to create logos are Picmonkey and Canva. **Update: I used to use Picmonkey for everything… then Canva… now I use Adobe Illustrator for just about everything. Picmonkey and Canva are great tools to use if you’re just starting out and aren’t that familiar with design. When I did use Picmonkey, I opted to pay for the Royale features for $33/year, but you can also get a monthly Royale account for $4.99/month.
// Related Read: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazing Pinterest Images //
Your brand should use the same set of fonts in order to keep branding consistent. I typically like script (cursive) fonts, but I’d recommend having a Serif font to compliment the fanciness of the script. When I first started this blog, I only used a cursive font, and it was hard for even me to read. Some brands have a handful of fonts, but I would keep it to a minimum of at least two to three. I have two that I use for graphics, and an additional one that I use on the blog content. One of my favorite places for fonts is DaFont.com. There are thousands of fonts that are free; however, make sure you’re choosing to use one that says 100% free. Some artists don’t allow their fonts to be used commercially, so if you’re monetizing your blog or selling products with the font, you run the risk of having legal action taken against. There are also tons of fonts for sale at places like Creative Market and Etsy.
IDENTIFYING COLORS (my favorite)
I’m a sucker for anything bright and glam. Choosing a color scheme isn’t as simple as it sounds, but try to go for complimentary, eye-catching schemes that reflect your personality and that your target market will find attractive. Also, the keyword here is complimentary. It’s fun to play in hundreds of colors, but your scheme has to make sense. Go out of your way to make sure that you’re using the correct colors and that it feels right to you. Choosing a color scheme will help your business website, or blog, look more cohesive and professional. Even if you do choose a myriad of colors, something else on your site needs to be cohesive, like the way you produce your graphics.
CORE VALUES AND COMPANY CULTURE
This. Is. Huge. While it’s not necessarily a visual component, it will help determine the qualities I’ve mentioned above. Core values are underlying components that shape your business’ culture and lifestyle choices. So let’s take a look at this in the form of analogies (YAY!). If you own a vegan delivery service, you can’t have a carnivorous diet. I mean, you COULD, but would people trust your business if you’re trying to promote a vegan diet for health benefits and environmental conservation, and you don’t follow the lifestyle yourself? Core values can determine your credibility. You can’t have a women’s networking group that empowers and uplifts members when your two head executives are going head to head. Your core values shape your company culture. If you promote a product that is supposed to enhance the amount of fun your target audience has in their lives, your company culture should reflect the same. Could you see Nick Woodman (founder of GoPro) sitting in his office all day shuffling through accounting statements? NO! He’s out enjoying life and sporting his product! This is what his customers are doing, so why wouldn’t he be doing the same?