Over the past 4 years of blogging, I have learned a thing or two about how to build a strong brand. I was never one of those people that researched blogging extensively before I started but I did know a thing or two about branding from 3 years of fashion business school. While I still cringe at my early photos and blog posts that, of course, come with a “learn as you go” mentality, I am pleased to say that I now feel as though I have built one heck of a strong, recognizable brand in the Canadian blogging industry. Today I thought that it would be fun to impart some of the things I have learned over the last four years about building a brand and while there are probably a hundred and one other things I could share with you (and will if you like this post) I’m starting with 5 things you can do to start building a brand.
1. Passion Over Everything: In my opinion, having an undying passion for what you do is the key to success. Passion is what started The Blondielocks 4 years ago and is what drives my blog and business forward today. I am a strong believer that if you love what you do and you work hard every day to achieve your goals, you will succeed. If you want others to believe in your vision you must and I repeat must believe in yourself wholeheartedly.
2. Gather All Of the Inspiration And Information That You Can: In today’s social media driven world it can sometimes be difficult to figure out exactly where it is that you fit. I’m sure by now if you are thinking about starting a business or a blog you have some sort of an idea of what your branding is going to look like and how your voice is going to sound. I love using tools such as Pinterest and Instagram to gather and keep my inspiration in one place. In the beginning stages of building your brand or blog, I suggest creating a secret Pinterest vision board. This will serve as the spot where all of the things that you are drawn to live. Once you start collecting inspiration, the type of photography, colours, calligraphy, etc that you like should become clear, helping you to realize what your brand’s aesthetic will look like. Now, I’m not condoning copying verbatim the things that inspire you but rather take note of what you like and ask yourself “why do I like this?” After you’ve collected your inspiration, it’s time to start researching. When I started my blog I just jumped in and researched when I had a question that I needed answering but I realize that’s not always the way to go about learning. We are so very lucky to have the answers to so many questions available at our fingertips so I urge you to utilize that. Branding and blogging questions are a simple Google or Pinterest search away and so are people in your field that always feel humbled to receive an e-mail that you’ve inspired them in some way. If you are planning to reach out to someone you admire just be mindful that these are busy people. Craft a well thought-out e-mail that shows that you have done your research and come with logical questions and for goodness sakes, offer to buy them their coffee.
3. Figure Out Who Your Audience Is: When I was in college I spent hours upon hours creating target market segments for my business classes. I didn’t realize it then, but when I started my blog I learned quickly that figuring out who my audience was one of the most important things I could do. After all, the reason you are creating a blog or a brand is so others enjoy and buy into your content, product or service. Ask yourself who your ideal “customer” is (they can be real or made up, though I like to give my ideal reader a face). Write down their gender, age, location, what their interests, hobbies, goals, etc. are. Once you’ve decided whom your ideal target audience is, do some research to figure out what they are already reading or buying because you guessed it, these other blogs and brands will become your competitors. Once you’ve created a target audience, never stop engaging with them, especially on social media, because the more you find out about who is reading your blog/buying your service the easier it will become to build a bigger audience and/or customer base.
5. Be Consistent In Your Branding And In Your Content: I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying “consistency is key“. I’m simply here to tell you that truer words were never spoken. Being consistent in your branding means that you share the same visual aesthetic and voice throughout all of your channels (blog, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, e-mail, EVERYTHING). In my opinion, none of these things should take priority over the other because at the end of the day your brand’s visual story is what is going to set you apart from your competitors. I know that Instagram is a huge marketing tool for brands and blogs, therefore, becomes the place where people tend to spend most of their time and effort, but I’m telling you it’s not the only thing that matters. For example, don’t you find it disappointing when you leave someone’s incredibly curated Instagram page to be directed to a blog that is less than what you had expected? It’s a bit of a turn-off, now isn’t it? I attended a workshop last summer wherein the speaker showed us 3 photos that popular bloggers had taken. We weren’t able to see their faces but from the visuals, it was easy as pie to spot who each blogger was because they’re SO consistent in their work. Make it a point to be that consistent throughout all of your channels because you will become that much more recognizable in your industry. Besides being consisted through your visuals be consistent with your content. This applies to bloggers more so than brands but I think that there is always something that can be taken away. Being consistent in your content means that your readers should know exactly what to expect from you from what you write about (food, DIY, fashion) to how you write it (do you write in a formal manner or as though you’re chatting with you bestie?) and when you post it (every day, once a week, etc.).
Photo by Pond’s End Productions