Sometimes it feels like you're doing everything right and still no one comes to your blog. You spend days writing useful content, hours promoting it on social media and.... crickets. It's enough to make you want to throw in the towel on this whole blogging thing.
But don’t do that just yet. We've all been there at some point or another. The problem might be that your followers may just not remember or recognize you because you're blending into the rest of the noise on social media. That’s something we can fix.
So, how do you stand out from the crowd?
By having a consistent branding strategy. A good brand involves careful thought and design but consistency is what many are missing from their branding experiences. Consistency is key to building a brand that people know and recognize.
That consistency is what makes you memorable -- and credible.
A consistent presence everywhere will help people recognize that they're engaging with the same person and brand whether they’re on your blog, reading comments on another blog, or on social media. They’ll begin to associate your content with you and your brand.
So how do you know if your brand is consistent?
Do an audit of your visual assets
Start by doing an audit of all your visual assets. Create a document in Photoshop, Illustrator or Word and start copying and pasting all the visual elements from your blog:
- Brand colors
- Blog graphics (blog header graphic, background images, blog post images, buttons, favicon, eBook covers, worksheets, etc.)
- Social media graphics (profile photos, cover images, post graphics, etc.)
Now that you've gathered it all up, step back and take a look.
- Do the design styles follow a similar pattern or trend?
- Are the colors consistent and do they go well together?
- Are your fonts consistent with the design style? (Fun and quirky fonts for a fun blog, traditional fonts for a blog on a more serious topic, etc.)
If you answered no to two or more of these questions, there’s work to be done -- but don't fret. After today, you'll be on your way to a more cohesive brand that people will instantly recognize when they see you around the web! Here are seven action steps you can take right now.
1. Define your mood and focus
This is #1 because before you can solidify your brand, we need to have a clear definition of who you serve. How else will you know how to present yourself to your target audience?
Download the worksheet at the bottom of this post. I recommend you fill it out electronically versus printing it out so you can easily edit it. Just save it to your computer and type right into the boxes. Start by filling in section one:
- Who is your blog for?
- Why do you write what you write?
- What pains or problems are you solving for your readers?
- What makes you different?
- How do you want your brand to be perceived?
- How should people feel when they visit your blog? Choose three words that best describe your brand. These are your “brand words.”
With those questions answered, you’ll have a better idea of who you are speaking to.
Go back to your blog elements. Is your content consistent with your audience? Is the design consistent with your content?
The trick is to get into the mind of your typical reader and ask yourself what type of experience they would want while reading your content. Always keep your brand words in mind when making decisions regarding your brand.
2. Use consistent colors
From your logo to your social media profiles, make your colors synonymous with your brand so that when someone sees those colors, they think of you. Here's how you can do that:
- Think about how your brand words will translate into colors.
- Identify the mood you want to convey to your audience. Do you want calm, soothing colors or bold, dark colors or bright, playful colors?
- Study colors and their meanings. Colors have different effects on gender, age and type of audience.
- Pay attention to color schemes used by competitors in your niche.
- Use color tools like Kuler to help find a final color scheme.
Put it into action: if you write about how to be calm and peaceful in life, your blog should reflect that with light, soothing colors and simple, easy-to-read fonts.
3. Use consistent fonts
Just like your color scheme, your font palette has a mood, too. You can choose fun and flirty fonts or traditional and serious fonts. You can choose swirly, girly fonts or you can choose bold and sturdy fonts. It all depends on who you are targeting. Don't forget to reference your brand words when selecting your font palette.
If you're new to choosing fonts, I recommend picking just two to start with. These two fonts should be easy to read and used for your body copy and headings.
If you're feeling brave, you could add a third, accent font to your palette. This accent font would only be used in small doses to pepper your design with flavor. Read more about choosing a great font palette here.
4. Create a style guide
Now that you have your ideal colors and fonts, you can make sure that these are being used throughout the different blog elements that we talked about earlier:
- your logo
- your header
- your profile photo
- your sidebar items and headings
- your favicon
- post images
- the buttons throughout your blog
Not sure how to lay your guide out? Jamie's Style Guide template from SpruceRd.com is perfect for this.
5. Use consistency within your profile images
Take a look at the profile photo of you in your blog. Is the background consistent with your brand colors? I hope so. Are you posing indoors for your outdoor-lifestyle blog? I hope not.
What about your clothing? Is it consistent with your colors and your messaging? Hopefully. Are you wearing frumpy dumpy clothing in your confidence-building blog? Hopefully not!
Put as much attention into your profile photo as you do with everything else. Be intentional about the background you select and the clothing you wear, especially the colors. Remember your brand words! Your expression should match the mood of your blog. More than likely it should exude confidence and/or joy. Above everything, make sure that it is a high quality photograph.
Once you have a profile photo that fits with your branding, you'll need to use that photo (or a similar one from the photoshoot) throughout all of your social media profiles. Use the same photo for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, and each of your other platforms. Instant recognition can be a game changer.
Do the same for your social media cover photos. Use the same backgrounds, imagery, colors and fonts from your blog in your Facebook and Twitter covers.
Take this a little further: add the profile photo to your comments
If you regularly comment on blogs in your niche or industry, you will want your profile photo to appear next to your comments. This makes you recognizable in the blogging community, which helps when you are trying to build up your audience.
To ensure the right profile photo shows up in the various comment providers, upload your photo to the following websites:
- Your Google account: Uploading your profile photo to Google will update it across all of your Google accounts: Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Blogger, etc.
- WordPress.com: Blogs hosted on WordPress.com require you to sign in to your WordPress.com account to leave a comment. Make sure your profile photo appears with your comment by uploading it to your free account.
- Gravatar: Many WordPress blogs use Gravatar to automatically add your profile photo next to your comment. Upload your photo to a free Gravatar account to ensure that it appears next to your comments.
- Disqus: Blogs that use Disqus, a blog commenting plugin, require you to sign in using a social media account or your Disqus account. Again, you'll want to make sure that your photo is uploaded here so that it appears by your comments.
6. Use consistent naming for your social profiles
Ideally, you would have your brand name be part of your social media handles (i.e. twitter.com/brandname), so what do you do if your brand name has been taken already?
Include your brand name in your profile names. For example, the Twitter account I opened up years ago is @marianney and does not include my brand's name. So I include it in my profile name like this: Marianne // DYOB. This way when people see my tweets in their feed, they can quickly associate my name (and photo) with my blog.
7. Be consistent in your messaging
Brand consistency doesn't only exist visually. It exists in your content and messaging, too. Your brand needs a tagline and a bio that explain what your brand does and the messaging needs to be consistent throughout all of your profiles.
A good tagline is quick, to the point, and doesn’t make people guess what it is that you do. People should instantly know what your brand is about when they read your tagline. A good bio (usually in your sidebar) goes into further detail about what you do for your audience.
Take out your worksheet again and fill in section two by copying and pasting what you currently have out there:
- My about page
- My tagline
- My sidebar bio
- My Twitter bio (160 characters)
- My Facebook page description
- My Google Plus page description
- My Pinterest profile description (160 characters)
- My Instagram profile description (150 characters)
Look at them all side-by-side. Is the message the same throughout each one? Are you using some of the same phrasing and keywords throughout?
Pay attention to tone: this is one element that people tend to forget. Your brand's tone and voice should be consistent with your brand words. For example, if your brand is playful, keep the tone of your social media postings playful and light.
Above all, keep it authentic.
Rewrite your profile bios: Edit your bios now while you can see them side-by-side and keep them consistent with each other. Don't forget to keep your brand words in mind when writing these bios and also while word-smithing your social media updates!
The bios should convey your blog's focus, the audience you serve and the solutions you offer them.
They don't all have to match exactly. Some profiles need to be tailored to the platform to make sense and attract different types of people there. For example, in my Twitter and Instagram bios, I use hashtags and some personal info that helps me connect with others. I have a slightly longer bio in Facebook and a slightly different bio for Pinterest.
Bonus tip: don't forget to include your blog's URL in all your profiles! It blows my mind how many people don't do this. Usually you can include the URL separately from your bio which saves on characters.
Consistency is crucial
I'll say it again: consistency is key to building a brand that people know and recognize. By doing this, you’ll be helping people to recognize you in Twitter chats, on live scopes, in blog comments and in Facebook groups. It also helps visitors to your profiles to quickly identify what your brand represents.
Forgoing consistency can mean sacrificing potential connections with future and ongoing readers. It’s time to make it a priority for your brand today.
If you'd like more tips on creating a consistent look and feel for your blog and your brand with beautiful examples and step-by-step instructions, check out my ebook, Blog Beautiful: 50 Tips + Fixes to Make Your Blog Glow. You can complete each tip in one day or less with your existing design skills. Really!
Editor's note: This post contains affiliate links. As always, we only promote products and services we truly feel can benefit your solo business!