Guest post by Vanessa Ryan.
Branding, more so now than ever, is the biggest element that can set you apart from the sea of creatives who are eagerly competing for your ideal reader, client, and customer. It is fierce competition out there, and some amazing talent.
Building an authentic, consistent brand that constantly shows up will allow you to build a community that is full of love and trust. A dose of honesty is needed here (with a spoon full of sugar):
Your brand is yours, but it’s not about you. It’s about your clients, customers and subscribers.
If you can nurture them, help them grow and make them feel loved, that love will circle back and you will have the makings of a purposeful, profitable brand.
Before I get into the design essentials, let’s first quickly go over what exactly your brand is and why visual communication is the best way to build a community, increase your profitability and achieve your purpose.
What is your brand?
It’s not just your logo, even though that is a huge part. Your brand is your entire package: it’s your content, the look, and feel of your online space, how you carry yourself wherever you are (online or in person).
More than just pretty color palettes and deliciously swooping fonts, a brand gives your subscribers and future clients or customers a feel for who you are.
It invites them to get to know you, to get personal with you, to trust you enough to “sit” down and stay awhile. It encourages them to seek you out on social media, to ask for your help and opinions, to recommend you to their friends and peers.
Wouldn’t that feel SO amazing? To have people validating your whole purpose?
That’s what your brand can DO, no magic tricks required.Learn How to Visually Grow Your Brand Past Your LogoClick To Tweet
Visual Communication is IN
With how fast paced everything is, and how often things change – you can’t avoid visual communication. We have selfies and video, and all of the social media platforms are moving towards live streaming with Insta Stories, Facebook Live and yes, even YouTube live.
However, visual communication is so much more than video. Think of your brand as if it has a body language. How do you want people to feel or act when they come in contact with your brand?
Even with food, you have heard the saying that you eat with your eyes first, yes? The presentation is everything. It only takes a few seconds for someone to decide how they feel about your brand and if they don’t immediately fall in love with their eyes, it’s going to be hard to win their heart. It’s like being placed in the weird friend zone, the law of attraction is a very real thing.
Makes sense right? So now let’s move into the actual elements that can make your ideal subscribers, clients, and customers fall heart over heels in love with everything you do.
Designing The Basics: Your Brand’s Visual Foundation
Before you begin designing your brand, it is essential to understand some of the basic elements you need for a foundation, and how you can visually build your brand from a comfy, cozy place (because working from a place of rest is the way to go).
1 | Mood Board
Creating a mood board is one of the BEST parts of branding. It really allows you to get creative and think outside of the box, and figure out that quirky, sultry or downright fun personality that you envision for your brand. Despite how much fun this part is, it is the most often skipped when new bloggers and business owners start their ventures.
An easy way to do this is to spend some time on Pinterest. Create a private board and pin images that you feel are a good representation of your brand and how you want it to look and feel.
After pinning 30-50 pins and studying your board, you should see some patterns and can then narrow down your color and typography (font) preferences and have a better understanding of the direction you may want to take once you start designing.
2 | Color Palette, Patterns & Textures
I love, love, love creating color palettes for clients. It’s one of my favorite parts of the branding process because of how empowering the right colors are, and how vital color is for evoking feelings.
Play around with colors that are a good representation of your brand. I typically chose 4-6 colors and start with two palettes. This will help you decide what colors will truly capture the mood of your brand.
Patterns and Textures are incredibly fun because they add depth to your brand and help you enhance your brand’s visual appeal. If your brand is light, fun and soft you could consider watercolor and floral patterns. If you want to be sharp, professional and bold then geometric patterns might be a good fit.
Choosing colors, patterns and textures can seem a bit overwhelming, so do it piece by piece. One good way to know if you are on the right track is to step back and ask yourself how it feels when you see all of your elements together.
Is that orange so bright that it clashes with your soft pinks and makes you feel a bit uneasy? Does that gold foil look cheap or mismatched compared to the rest of your elements?
The wonderful thing about patterns and textures is that they can be tweaked slightly to give your brand a refresh rather than a complete overhaul.
Related post: 4 Ways To Infuse Your Brand Personality Into Your Website
3 | Logo(s) + Icon
This is the most obvious! We all need a logo for our brand, one that is strong evokes feeling and lasts through all the trends. Your logo should be something that can be slightly adapted as necessary over the years as you grow, and never hesitate to revisit your brand goals to be sure your logo is still serving your brand properly.
Another part of the logo set is a sub logo, which can be used for a variety of mediums from social media and packaging to how you communicate with your clients. It’s always nice to have a few logo variations in the event that your primary logo (most often used for your blog or website header) doesn’t work.
Your icon is another fun extension of your brand, and I like to look at it as the most simplified form of your logo. Again, this is something you can use for your gravatar or site icon, to your email signature and even social media posts and content upgrades.
4 | Brand Style Guide
The brand style guide is what pulls all your basic brand elements together and helps you expand your brand and keep it consistent. A brand style guide typically shows your logos in all forms, your color palette with hex codes, typography selections, and image inspiration.
A Brand Style Guide comes in handy, and keeping one for your business is important and will save you time and headaches as you grow. This style guide can be used to reference all of your designs to be sure you stay on point, can be handed off to a designer who is working for you and even to a virtual or social media assistant.
With a brand style guide, you can ensure that no matter how many hands are on your brand that it still remains 100% authentic and unadulterated.
Related post: 8 Unique Ways To Use Styled Stock Photography To Help You Grow Your Brand
Leveling Up: Growing your Business with Visuals
1 | Social Media Presence
When someone lands on your blog and LOVES it, they will likely click over to one or two of your social accounts. It’s even more likely that your future subscribers, clients, and customers will come to your blog or website from social media.
Naturally, you need to visually communicate your brand on your social profiles, people should not be confused when they arrive or leave your blog and hop over to your social pages. The look and feel should be consistent, otherwise, it could cause some distrust or overwhelm.
Social media branding includes the visual elements such as banners (Facebook and Twitter), social media post templates (for Pinterest and Instagram at the very least) and even the images you use.
Styled Stock Photography is, in my opinion, one of the absolute BEST ways to consistently show up, in a social + visual way. Some of my favorites are Haute Stock, Styled Stock Society, and SC Stockshop.
Check out Bluchic’s Social Media Templates for Canva!
2 | Opt-in Templates
This is one brand essential that a lot of people miss, however it can be a key factor in growing your blog or business. We all know that there are all kinds of freebies, opt-ins and content upgrades which makes it incredibly (as in, urgently) important to make sure yours not only walks the walk but does it in complete brand style.
Regardless of how mind-blowingly helpful the content is, if your content upgrade isn’t beautifully presented, you are really going to struggle to grow your list. Taking some time to invest in designing your own, purchasing pre-made, customizable templates or hiring a designer is well worth the sometimes hefty price of hours or money.
Includes an editable, professionally designed Opt in Template, Opt in Launch Checklist and micro opt-in. Infuse your brand visuals with content and personality and launch your opt in.
I suggest identifying the type of content upgrade that you will use most with your brand and create a cover, call to action page (for upgrades and social shares) and a few inside pages.
This will make it easy for you to swap your images, change the content and have brilliant designs for your new subscribers, clients, and customers as often as you need them.
Remember, just because it’s free doesn’t mean you should slack on the effort you put into your freebie. In all actuality, your free offerings should be so awesome that your subscribers should feel guilty and elated at the same time, as in “did I really just get this for FR to the EE?!”
Brand your templates and tuck them away next time you need to design something to go along with a blog post, you are starting up sales funnel or need to put together a quick set of worksheets to welcome a client on board.
Pssst… complete the experience with Bluchic’s Landing Page Templates for your opt-in page, thank you page, sales page, and more!
3 | Business Card and/or Media Kit
Whether you are a blogger or business, you need a way to market yourself, lovely! By having a business card with your logo, brand colors and maybe a pattern or texture you can stand out to local businesses and network in person at conferences.
Don’t be boring, unique stands out (just don’t go all crazy, unless that’s your brand’s personality).
Media Kits are also another way to showcase your goods, especially if you are interested in collaborations and partnering with brands. Carrying your branding over to your media kit will not only keep you visually consistent, but it will also put your authentic brand in the spotlight, which will increase your opportunities.
With either of these, you can typically find customizable templates that you can tailor to your brand, or you can hire a designer to create something totally unique to you. If you are looking for stylish, easy to use media kits – Creative Market has some pretty spiffy ones!
Related post: Building A Brand Through Social Media: Your Complete Guide
4 | Packaging, Thank You Cards and Extras
One of my favorites, I love the packaging and all the cute extras that go along with. Even as a service-based business, you can send out snail mail with a branded Thank You card when working with clients, or send out a cute little gift (I love Greetabl!). It’s not about showing off, but rather extending your brand in a physical form.
That extra, personal gesture means so much when most of our communication is digital. Having something that tickles the senses elevates your client experience that much higher, which can lead to more work and wonderful word of mouth advertising.
I have worked with e-commerce brands and small handmade Etsy businesses, and I always love reading reviews on how much their customers enjoy the extra details, thought and love put into packaging the products.
Going the extra mile with a cute tag, tissue and bow and a card with a handwritten message is what turns one time purchasers into loyal, lifetime customers.
You will be surprised…
At how magnetic your brand can become by adding a few, special touches here and there. This list is by no means exhaustive, and you can find ways to make your brand especially tailored to the audience or tribe you serve. I can’t stress enough how significant it is to remain consistent in your visual communication.
Consistency is recognizable, and if someone loves you don’t make them search for you. People want to see what your brand has to offer without being confused one social media, blog graphic or package to the next. Let your brand blossom, you got this!
Vanessa is a Brand and Course Stylist over at VanessaRyan.co. She specializes in designing purposeful and profitable brands, sales and landing pages and eproducts for women entrepreneurs. More than design, she loves creating playdoh, sticker and crayon cakes with her little girl. You can share heart emojis with her on Instagram @vanessaryan.co