I often see articles and posts about how “You Need to Brand Your Blog”. And it’s true, you do need to brand yourself however, many of these posts miss the point or are confused about what branding actually means.
The term branding gets thrown around by designers and bloggers a lot. Usually, it’s brought up when speaking about the visuals – your logo, colors, patterns, fonts, and graphics. However, that’s missing a whole lot. Your brand’s visual identity is only a part, a fraction of branding.
From Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia –
But what exactly does “branding” mean? Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.
Branding is the whole shebang. The whole experience you provide, not just the visuals. This means the tone, the feel of your brand, the personality – is your brand feminine, edgy, minimalist or funny? Branding dictates how your brand speaks, behaves, and looks in order to reach and appeal to your ideal audience.
The Branding Pieces
This all means that when you go to brand yourself, blog, or business, you’ll need a heck of a whole lot more than just a logo. In fact, before you ever even think of reaching out to a designer about your brand’s visual identity, you’ll need to get clear about a few things that lay at the core of your blog or business –
Your Vision + Mission: What’s your blog’s purpose and what sets you apart from other bloggers? Your vision describes where you want to be in the future – it should provide a sense of aspiration and stretch your imagination. Your mission is the why behind your blog or business – it’s why you do what you do. It should be short and very clear.
Your Ideal Audience: Who are you trying to reach and engage? 20-somethings or 30-somethings? Males or females? Narrowing down your ideal audience is key – what appeals to 25 years old women in NYC is very different from what appeals to 40 years old women in Alaska.
Your Brand’s Personality: this is where you define the tone that will be used throughout to reach and engage with your audience. Will you use jargon, technical acronyms or will you keep it casual? Will you be funny, edgy, preppy? This is important to define because an edgy brand looks, feels, and speaks very differently from a preppy brand. Your own personality will play a part in here and so will your ideal audience.
Your “It” Factor: what sets you apart from others in your field and niche? This comes in the form of quirks but also the unique and special value that bring to your audience.
Why Branding Matters
Very simply put, branding matters because it breeds trust. No one likes confusion – think of how weird it’d be if while Lily Pulitzer is preppy and upbeat on their website, they were edgy and sarcastic on their Twitter account. You’d be left wondering who is the real Lily Pulitzer and you wouldn’t trust them enough as a brand to hand over your money.
For big brands like Lily, Kate Space, Nike it’s not just the features of their product that sells – it’s the whole shebang. A great example is Starbucks – whenever you interact with Starbucks, you get the same experience. Whether it’s from the friendly barista, their quick interactions on Twitter, or their email marketing. It all flows together.
That consistent experience adds value to a brand. That’s why you’re okay with paying $5 for a coffee at Starbucks but would think it’s highway robbery at a convenience store.
Putting It Into Action
As you work out the piece of your branding, it will begin to dictate everything you put out – from the graphics you create, to the blog posts you publish, to the updates you send out on social media. I know this is a lot of information and a lot to think about, so I’ve created a worksheet. Whether you’re currently working on branding yourself and your blog, or if you aren’t, I recommend you work through it. It will help you in the long run to keep a consistent brand that your readers will know and love!