Something that frustrates me when I read advice to bloggers + creatives on “branding” is that creating a logo, SM buttons, and a new website design is treated as the end-all solution to branding. Uh, it’s NOT. Sure, you have a pretty, shiny, new website with matching buttons across all of your channels, with fun Facebook headers and a new profile picture on Instagram. This is darling and all, but…then what?
What exactly, outside of your website’s template, have you branded?
While you absolutely need to have a clean, cohesive design across all of your platforms, your true “branding” is much more than a visual upgrade. It comes from developing a purpose and voice for your website’s content/product/services. So many times I see people go through “rebranding”, which results in nothing more than a fresh new website layout. Nothing really changes with the direction of their content or delivery, and then after a few months, they become frustrated because their results are still the same. They then go through the entire process again with a new “branding expert” thinking something will change. It doesn’t, and then they give up and/or abandon their project for something else.
It’s not the template, it’s the content.
In the same way that your graphic designer will develop your visual style guide (which covers fonts, colors, template layout and more), you will also need to develop a style guide for your supported content. THIS is where your real branding will come into play. The pictures, videos, and written posts that you share on your site and via social media channels are your “branded content”, and will support your site as a whole and tell your story. If you’re a hobby blogger/creative and just want to share your day to day thoughts on pop culture and life, then this isn’t an issue, but if you’re using social media or a blog to support a business/service, creating the right type of content is much more important than having a killer logo.
What will they gain from visiting your website?
Why should people read your blog or support your endeavors? How can your services help them? Why should they share your products or links with everyone that they know? These are questions you need to answer when you’re creating content. If you’re not piquing their interest with content that is interesting and relevant, they’re going to skip over your posts. If your pictures aren’t that good, no one outside of maybe your close friends are going to like them. If your social media updates are so random and all over the place, no one is going to share them. Your website may look great, but…everything else is boring or doesn’t fit in with your brand’s voice.
To help you figure out your purpose/voice, there are 3 main things to consider:
What is your niche?
Are you covering fashion, lifestyle, beauty, fitness, politics? Are you trying to gain visibility as a “personality”? Clearly defining your niche will be your #1 priority and give you a solid foundation for producing supportive content. Most bloggers and creatives that are successful zone in on a particular niche and OWN IT.
Who is your targeted demographic?
How old is your ideal reader/customer? What are their interests? What makes your product or blog different? What problems do they need solved? Who are you creating for? Don’t make the mistake of trying to create content for everyone-doing so may water down your message and lead to creative burnout.
What is your angle?
Are you giving simple commentary on certain topics or positioning yourself as an expert in your field? Are you sharing stories about other creatives, or giving behind-the-scenes insight into your life/company? There are ways to include all angles, but for most, defining your angle will help you immensely during your brainstorming sessions. If you’re a business trying to promote a product or collection, then you may come up with mini campaigns around each one. Bloggers may pitch a post idea to a brand they want to work with and will need to outline how they will produce written and/or visual content and showcase it on their blog. If you don’t have some sort of angle that you’re writing from, your overall message could get lost.
Once you define these 3 things, you can then begin developing your content and creating an editorial calendar for posting- not only for your website, but also for your social media channels. The core components of your “brand” will help you remain clear on the type of pictures you should take, videos to shoot, stories your should write, even which social media platforms will best serve your needs. Everything you create moving forward should tie back to it, which will make it much easier to stay consistent with your postings, grow your audience, and keep your followers coming back for more.