I’m not a big business so why do I need a brand?
I once asked myself this question when I first started in the world of blogging. I mean, I’m not Walmart, so why do I need to worry about branding my site?
I quickly learned that branding is not just important for the big guys, it’s important for us little guys too. Branding is not about taking on the world of consumerism and pulling in as many customers as possible.
It’s about gaining a loyal following and building connections with the people we are trying to help.
Am I going to make millions off a site that helps moms learn how to code and blog? I really hope so, but it’s not likely to happen.
Am I going to moms learn how to code and blog? Absolutely. And if I can make some money along the way, that would be great.
But in order to help moms like you, I need to give you a reason to land on my site and stay here. Branding is an important aspect of doing this.
Being super cool and awesome helps too.
What is a Brand?
A brand is the overall impression visitors get when they visit your blog.
It’s a combination of your site’s name, color palette, logos and graphics, fonts, writing voice and blog topics.
I’ll show you an example.
Here are three extremely popular sites that deal with blogging and digital marketing:
They all have a different look and feel, but they all deal with the same subject. matter. Did you notice anything similar with them?
They all have pictures of the site creator and they are all women. Immediately, you can tell these brands are designed to appeal to women.
The color palettes are all similar as well, with some using more pinkish hues than others.
The visuals also give a sense of personality as well. Raelynn Tan’s site is a bit more subdued but she also doesn’t have children in her picture.
Suzi does, so you know this brand is geared specifically towards moms (helps that it’s in the title too!).
Elna, on the other hand, doesn’t have a picture with her children, but the title of her site is a dead giveaway – she’s not just a mom, but a mom to twins!
From this, we know that whatever Suzi and Elna have to offer is going to serve mothers trying to work at home more so than Raelynn’s site.
Elna’s color scheme is a bit more playful, too. I’m going to expect her content to be a bit cheekier than the other two.
See how I can figure out exactly what these sites are about without even touching their content?
That’s the power of having a brand!
Why Your Site Needs a Brand
With so many moms out there starting blogs, it’s easy to get lost. You could end up becoming just another site that nobody pays attention to.
The defining factor in the popularity of your site, other than providing relevant and useful content, is how you present yourself to the world.
That feel you give readers when they visit your blog is what is going to keep them coming back for more!
Here are some important reasons why you should create a brand for your blog:
1. It’s a Customer Experience
Real life example time:
There are some really good Thai restaurants in my city. I’ve been to them all, but there is one in particular I have no interest in returning to – and it has nothing to do with the food.
It has everything to do with the aesthetic. It’s so stark and white that I feel like I’m sitting in a hospital or funeral home when I eat.
A brand is a customer experience. You want to make your readers feel comfortable when they visit your site. When your colors are all over the place, your layout is confusing and your tone doesn’t match the information you are sharing, they will leave.
And never come back.
Everything from your site’s logo, the interactivity of your website, how quick you respond to questions and how you promote your products and services are all integral to the customer experience as well.
When your brand is organized and defined, the reader/customer’s experience is pleasant and desirable and will make them want to come back.
2. It Builds Recognition
Quick! What do these logos all have in common?
At first glance, nothing really – except for the fact that you probably knew what company each one represents.
Having a consistent and established brand creates customer recognition. When they see your logo or color palette on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Pinterest, they know exactly who it is.
Research shows that it takes approximately 5-7 brand impressions before a business or site is remembered. They say first impressions count, and they really do in the blogging world!
This is important because consistent traffic to your site is based on return visitors. You want the same people coming back to your site to read your content, engage with you, buy your product and refer you to their friends and family.
You can do this by creating an image, or brand, that they know and trust.
3. It Creates Trust
After a reader begins to recognize and interact with your brand, they will begin to trust you to meet their specific needs.
This goes to show that your brand is more than just how your site looks. You need to deliver content and products that serve your audience’s needs as well as focus on interacting with those visitors.
By creating a clear and recognizable brand, you are able to demonstrate your the value not only of your message, but of your product and services as well.
Readers are more likely to feel loyal to you, and pick up what you’re putting down, when they feel a connection to your brand.
Maybe the color palette and layout of your site resonates with them, but it’s more likely they will come back if they find themselves consistently attaining answers to the questions they are asking or the problems they are facing.
Not only should you be sharing thoughtful and helpful content, but you should be having a two-way conversation with your reader. This could be as simple as
- addressing them as an individual through your writing
- responding to comments
- sending messages to your subscriber list with a personal tone
For example, I love visiting other mom blogs that address me as “mama” in their content. I feel like they are speaking directly to me and understand me.
I also enjoy receiving emails from sites I’m subscribed to that share a personal story about the site owner.
The key is knowing your audience and finding ways to connect with them – whether it be through the look of your site, its content or how you address them.
Finding Your Brand
I’ll be honest with you – it’s hard to sit down and plan out a successful brand the first time around.
If you’re new to blogging, you’re not going to nail your brand on the first go. As a seasoned blogger, you’ve probably noticed how often your brand has changed over time.
When it comes to my mom blog, Motherhood+Mayhem, I’ve gone through countless looks, layouts and niches (I’ll probably go through a few more before I hit the sweet spot).
When I started the site, I wanted it to be a catch-all for all mom-related topics. I wrote about everything and anything and tried to catch my audience’s eye with cute and flashy colors and graphics:
It wasn’t working for me and I was gaining no traffic.
I decided to pare down my niche (which you can learn more about here) and focus on mental health issues and self-care for moms. With that, I knew I had to redesign the look and feel to match the message I was trying to send:
I wanted a look that left no question in the reader’s mind what my site was about when they first landed on it. It looks less like a site that will show your kid how to make slime (nothing wrong with that, btw) and more like a site that will support moms through mental struggles and stress.
I also designed this nifty logo that looks like a happy but absolutely burnt out mom:
Which is pretty much what I look like most of the time, so it allows the readers to connect with who I am.
The point here is that establishing a strong and successful brand is sometimes a trial-and-error process as well as a learning curve. Even huge-ass brands out in the world didn’t get it right the first time and many now still evolve their brands and experience redesigns.
So even if you do nail your brand, you’ll likely have to switch it up at some point as your audience demographic changes or just to keep things fresh.
Creating Your Brand
Just because there’s no perfect template for creating a brand doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to do it! Even though you’ll go through many ideas and looks, you can always get started with these helpful tips:
1. Choose a Site Title
The first step in establishing a brand is to choose a title that is memorable and properly reflects your brand. Your blog’s name sets the tone for your entire brand.
Think about the tone of your blog and its audience. If you are looking to sell professional services, you can always just use your name. If you want to focus on a specific kind of audience, use their signifier in the title such as “moms”, “millennials”, etc.
For this site, I wanted to work in a sort of coffee theme, since I love coffee and it basically fuels me as I write and blog. While it doesn’t scream “blogging and coding”, it does speak to moms and I use other elements of my brand to get my point across.
2. Design Your Color Palette and Logo
Canva is a great resource for designing logos and establishing a color palette.
Coolors is also a good site to establish color palettes and PatternCooler is a neat site that allows you to create simple background patterns. To find inspiration for color palettes, search “Color Palettes” in Pinterest for some amazing color ideas!
Think about what would make your readers comfortable while setting the tone for the content you plan to share.
Remember in the above examples how you could easily differentiate between the more serious blog and the more playful one? Those color choices were deliberately made to set the tone for the entire site.
3. Choose a Theme and Layout
A blog theme is the underlying architecture of your site and provides a basic structure for the way your blog looks.
If you know nothing about coding and customizing a layout, focus on finding one that marries the visual look you are going for with an easy-to-navigate layout.
If you do know how to code, choose a workable layout you can make further changes to.
(Interested in knowing how to use CSS code to customize your site and build your brand? Have I got a course for you!)
You can check out my post on beautiful and feminine WordPress themes to get you started. Just remember that you want a theme that is clean, nicely organized and easy for your readers to navigate.
4. Niche Your Categories
When I showed you the difference between my first design and latest design for Motherhood+Mayhem, there was actually a layout in between that I don’t have a screenshot of.
I didn’t change a whole lot, but I was still displaying generic mom-related categories such as “Parenting+Pregnancy”, “Fun+Learning”, “Work+Money”, etc.
These weren’t what my niche was about at all, so I decided to change the categories to the ones you can see above. They better summarize what my site is about.
Now, when people visit and look at their categories, they know exactly what kind of information they will find.
Niching your categories, or making them more specific to your content and brand, is a quick and easy way to let your visitors know what you are about with a quick glance.
5. Use Fonts to Your Advantage
The fonts you use, and their size, says a lot about your brand. Are you serious? Playful? Funny? This can all be shown through the fonts you choose.
Just remember to limit your font choices to no more than three and to keep the font of your main content simple and easy to read.
You can use fancier fonts in your site header (just like for Motherhood+Mayhem) and bold fonts for your content headings.
Sticking to the same fonts also helps to build brand recognition, since readers will start to notice your unique font combination on social media.
Google Fonts is an amazing place to find beautiful fonts – they even allow you to play around with different font combinations to create a personalized look and feel.
Or, you can check out my post on some really cool Google Font combos that you can use for your site. And then head here to learn how to install them!
6. Find Your Voice
Your voice is conveyed through how your posts are written and how they will sound to the reader. You want to sound like a human and create that important connection with your reader.
It’s important to consider the kind of language you use. For my mom site, since I focus on more serious subject matter, I tend to be more straightforward and supportive in my writing.
This site, however, shows my personality more as I tend to write exactly how I talk IRL. It’s because I want to share my knowledge with you while assuring you that I am, in fact, a real mom who blogs and codes and does all that other cool stuff that makes me super popular.
So when you’re looking for your site’s voice, remember who it is you are writing for – or, more specifically, who you are talking to.
Your Brand is Important
Branding is not a single step in creating a successful blog – it’s incorporates many different aspects of your site in a way that draws in readers and builds trust.
Like I said, you may not get it right the first time. But knowing who your audience is and the voice you want to portray are key to getting started on finding your perfect brand.
How about you? What has your branding process been like? Drop a comment below and share your story!