As a graphic designer, I get asked all kinds of questions. I don’t mind one bit — questions from non-designers always fascinate me. That’s what makes me better at my job. I get a lot of queries about logos, but a logo isn’t always enough to take your blog or business to the next level. In fact, a great brand is a lot more than a logo, a business card or a website design. It’s everything you put forth into the world. Branding is a way of establishing your blog or business and setting it apart from the rest.
Today I’m teaming up with another graphic designer and blogger — Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do — to talk about consistent branding and why it matters for blogs. Over on her blog, Madison is sharing tips for consistent blog branding, so be sure to check out her list!
There are three main points I want to drive home about what branding really is, and why bloggers should pay attention:
1. Your brand will be easily recognizable and distinguishable.
Back in the day, farmers branded their cattle so people would know whose cow was whose. While I’d like to think design is a bit more humane these days, the idea of differentiating what’s yours is nothing new. Like those cows, you want your brand to be distinctly yours, not easily confused with someone else’s. You want potential readers and customers to recognize and remember your brand, right? And you don’t want them to confuse you with a competitor, either? Well, you’ve got to train them.
Take the ultimate trainer, Target, for example. There are many things inside and out that bear Target’s brand. There’s, of course, the big red target logo on the front of the store. Big red doors. Big red shopping carts. Employees’ bright red shirts. Red and white shopping bags. The ads on TV. The mobile app. The website. All these elements work together as a system.
Target has trained us to recognize its brand through the colors red and white and its clean, modern aesthetic. Everything at Target has a similar look and feel. When we see a brightly colored ad on TV, we immediately recognize it as an ad for Target — not Wal-Mart or TJ Maxx — even if we don’t see the Target logo until the very end. We do it without even thinking about it. This is true for lots of big brands, like Apple or Coca-Cola. Even though we’re talking about branding on a much smaller scale, these principles still apply.
2. Your brand will look professional and polished.
If you take your blog/business seriously, you should invest in tools for a consistent brand. Your consistent, professional graphics should show your potential customers why they should use your business or read your blog.
Here’s where that recognizable, distinguishable brand comes in: You want potential customers seeing your site for the first time to bookmark your site and follow you on social media right away. Later, when they see an image you pinned or stumble across your site a second time, you want them to think, “Hey, I’ve seen one this before,” and keep reading. The goal, of course, is to get them to keep coming back again and again until they remember your brand and spread the word about you.
Setting guidelines for the way you create your visuals is of the utmost importance, and I hope you’ll check out Madison’s post for some actionable tips for creating consistency in your brand.
3. Your brand will showcase your personality and style.
Since your logo, graphics and design are the first things people will notice about your brand, you can subtly and visually let people know what to expect from you by incorporating a little personality into your brand. That might be a favorite color, a hand-drawn icon or a classy font.
Your brand should reflect the tone and theme of your business as well as set the pace for your future content. For instance, if your blog is all about law (AKA serious business), it’s likely that you want a no-nonsense brand. If your business is about inspiring women to create their own company, you can take a softer, more feminine approach. If you blog about living minimally, your design should reflect that trope.
At the end of the day, your identity is what you have to let your target customers know what to expect from you. Above all, design consistency will build authenticity and trust for your brand communications.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in design is this: “Don’t do anything without a reason.” And no, “because it’s pretty” is not a reason to make a design choice. Be sure to check out Madison’s post five ways to act on these challenges to achieve consistent blog branding. // susannah
Let me know in the comments your opinion on why consistent branding is important.