How to Create a Killer Brand for Your Blog

I'm going to start this post by asking you a question. What is the one thing you find the hardest when it comes to branding your business? For me, it's wanting to change my logo, my colour palette, or my social media templates, ALL THE TIME! I find it hard to be happy with my brand and I feel like there is something always missing from it. I think the reason why I have this problem is because I am my own designer which makes me suuuuper picky about everything. 

If you are stuck in the position where you don't know much about design and are not in the position to hire a designer then the thought of coming up with a consistent and solid brand might seem daunting. If you are already committed to your blog and post regularly then you owe it to yourself and your readers to have a recognizable brand. With a recognizable brand not only will it pull your site together but most importantly people will start noticing your work outside of your blog, especially on social media. And besides, who doesn't want a beautiful brand they can show off proudly.

So where the heck do you even begin? Fear not, friend! Below I'll tell you what you need in order to have a brand guide you love and keep. 

Creating a brand for yourself is not only visually appealing but in the long run it will save you time. How so?

Say you write your blog post and now you want to create a few social media templates to promote your post. Since you don't really have a solid brand guide in place you:

  1. Search the internet for a photo you think looks nice.
  2. Then you spend some time looking for fonts so you can add text to the photo.
  3. Next you want to add colour to your templates so you spend who knows how long on Pinterest trying to find a nice colour.
  4. And of course, once you have it all put together, sometimes you aren't feeling it so you want to try start over again with a new idea.

Before you know it an hour has passed and you're exhausted, trust me I've been there myself so I'm very familiar with the above process. Now imagine if you had a brand guide in place. You could open the template in Photoshop, have the fonts and colours already laid out and all you have to do is write in your text and maybe change a colour or two. Not only will you have saved yourself time, but you've taken away the stress of trying to figure out how to design your template. 

So what should a blog brand guide include? 

  1. Your logo
  2. Your blogs theme / design
  3. Social media templates
  4. Font palette
  5. Colour palette
 
 

LOGO

If you are serious about blogging and creating a business you most definitely need a logo. Not only will you use it on your blog but you'll use it on business cards, your newsletter header, or if you collaborate with other bloggers and businesses you can add it to any visuals you create to promote your collaboration. Your logo is your brands voice, make sure it represents that well.

If you are just starting out and can't afford to hire a designer there are sites such as Creative Market and Etsy where you can buy pre-made logos from designers. But keep in mind, they will likely be sold again to someone else which doesn't really make it that unique. If you are in the position to hire a designer it's always the better option, you are guaranteed a unique logo that will last you years and years. I have a reasonably priced logo option  if you are currently looking.


BLOG DESIGN

Whether you host your blog on Wordpress.org or use Squarespace having a nice blog layout will make a world of a difference. Some important aspects of a good blog design include:

  1. Well organized sidebar
  2. Easy navigation
  3. Well designed footer
  4. Simple and clean template

Sidebar

When it comes to your sidebar less is more in my opinion. Don't overcrowd it with things you don't really need. I like to keep it simple and include a photo of myself, a sentence or two about me, social icons, newsletter box, popular posts, and one other item such as an Instagram widget. Make sure the images you use aren't too big and avoid any GIFs or flashy items. You don't want to overwhelm your reader and distract them from your valuable content. 

Easy Navigation

You want your reader to be able to navigate through your blog without any issues or confusion. You can avoid that by creating a top menu bar above or below your logo. Here you can add your categories and subcategories so your readers can easily find topics they are looking for. Adding category buttons to your sidebar is an option but if you have a sticky nav bar at the top that follows the reader as they scroll then leaving them out of your sidebar is probably a good idea, since less is more! 

Footer

If you don't have a footer on your blog you are missing out on potential interaction with your reader. Like your sidebar, you don't want to overcrowd your footer so adding 3 columns max is a good rule to follow. I like to add my newsletter box, a search box, my social icons, and a Instagram widget. You could also add your categories here if you want to remind people of what they possibly forgot to read. 

Template

If your blog is on Wordpress.org you will want a theme that is clean and simple. You will also want to make sure it is responsive, meaning you can view it on mobile. Thankfully if you are not a designer there are literally hundreds of places to get a nice looking template for a reasonable price. So to recap you want to find a theme that:

  1. Is responsive
  2. Preferably has a footer  
  3. Has ongoing support from the designer
  4. The theme is coded properly and isn't bulky. Make sure to read the reviews from the buyers before purchasing
  5. Is well-designed

It can get overwhelming when looking for a theme since there are so many options. Don't purchase the first theme you like, do some research, look around, and make sure the theme speaks to you and your brand. As for Squarespace they have their own templates that you are forced to use but that's okay because they are all responsive, nicely designed, modern, and customizable. 

Some of my favourite places to get themes for Wordpress.org are:

  1. Station Seven Creative
  2. Themeforest
  3. FLOTHEMES
  4. STUDIO PRESS
 
 

SOCIAL MEDIA TEMPLATES

Vertical blog post image

Why is having a vertical image so important in your posts? If you are at all familiar with Pinterest then you know vertical images work best over there. And since Pinterest is a huge traffic driver you want to make sure each post has a Pinterest ready image for when you or your readers pin your posts. Here's a list of what you can put on your vertical image, you don't have to put everything but as long as people can tell it came from your blog then you're good.

  1. Your blog post title
  2. Your website 
  3. Your logo
  4. A nice image or icon
  5. Your brand colours and fonts

By creating a template, overtime people will start to recognize your blog brand, especially over on Pinterest, which will create a familiar face for your reader. Below are some examples from other bloggers. Not only are they visually nice to look at but they have all the info you need to know and what you will find if you click through.

                                   SPRUCE RD. DESIGN                                                           CAITLIN BACHER

                   Spruce Rd. Design                       Caitlin Bacher                    The Nectar Collective

If your blog is your business than having social media templates is a good idea. It's a great way to display written content that you want to promote. You can do this for just about any social media platform including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. By having these templates already made they save you time and keep your brand looking cohesive. Below are some of my favourite ways to go about this in Instagram. 

Melyssa of the The Nectar Collective used the above template for her mini Instagram course. 

Jamie of SPRUCE RD. DESIGN promotes her blog posts using her Instagram template above.

Now look at Melyssa's vertical blog post image and then look at her Instagram template, you can see that even though they look slightly different she uses the same fonts and colours which brings her brand together. The same goes for Jamie, everything is cohesive across the board for her which makes her brand recognizable. 
 

FONT PALETTE

It's important to choose the right fonts for your blog, after all people are visiting your blog to read your posts. You want to make sure everything is legible and clear.

Here are some tips for choosing fonts:

  1. Pick two max, you could probably get away with three but don't go above that. By having two fonts your blog doesn't look all over the place and it's easier on the eyes. 
  2. Make sure your fonts have some contrast but make sure they compliment each other as well. I like to use a bold san-serif for my blog post titles and a serif font for my body copy. Having this contrast is nice to look at and adds a little excitement to your blog. Avoid using two fonts that look too similar, that's why pairing san serif and serif fonts is a safe bet.
  3. This is a biggie, always align your text to the left. If your text is currently set to centred, stop reading this and go change it right now. I've heard so many people say they like it centred because it looks "better." Oh friend, I can tell you it does not, and it makes it so hard to read. 
  4. Do not, I repeat, do not use a script font for your headers and most importantly do not use it for your body copy, unless you want to give your readers a migraine. 
  5. Make sure your body copy is big enough for your readers to see comfortably, you don't want them squinting. Each font is different but a good rule to follow is 12pt for body copy but adjust if it's looking too big or too small. 
  6. And finally, make sure to use these fonts across your brand, including social media templates.

Colour Palette

Choosing a colour palette can be the most time consuming part of this whole thing, again, I speak from experience. Below are some tips to make it a little easier on you:

  1. Create a board on Pinterest and pin colours and colour palettes you like. Don't go overboard though, having a board with 100+ pins will only add stress, instead pin around 20 images and start weeding out the ones you like least. 
  2. Pick four or five colours for your palette, then you can add your black and white if necessary. 
  3. Once you have your palette created stick with it. It's tempting to want to change colours here and there but that's when you start losing track of your brand. 
  4. Use these colours across your branding items and blog graphics. Again, this will create brand recognition for your readers and potential readers when they see your graphics on social media.

Start taking action now. Download my Brand Guide Workbook and start planning your brand. 

Don't forget to download my moodboard templates, these are great for creating a brand inspiration board when starting your blog brand journey.