You see, a brand makes its customers feel a certain way. I feel creative when I use an Apple product. I feel hipper when I buy coffee from Starbucks. I feel like a badass when I wear UnderArmor. Your goal is to inspire your readers to feel a certain way too.
Your brand “feeling” is important because it motivates your readers to spend time with you when they have a spare moment. They know that they will feel a certain way learn to crave and search for that feeling.
This is the essence of branding.
Blog branding is exactly the same thing. You use any element at your disposal to inspire an emotion and invoke it consistently on every visit. Here’s your tool kit:
Colors are incredibly powerful. They can instantly change the mood and outlook of your reader. Top brands seek to own a color. Dodge owns Red. Apple owns White. Google owns red, green, blue, and yellow. When you see these colors you immediately think of their most consistent users.
You want the same for your blog. Look at the color wheels below. See the concentric rings? You’re colors will work together if you choose from the same ring.
Next, if you want a high-energy color scheme pick colors that sit across from each other on the wheel. So fire engine red works well with bright green. If you are looking for a smooth, monochromatic look, pick colors placed next to each other on the wheel.
The pros know that Fonts can make or break a brand. Many believe that the 2008 Obama campaign gained a visual advantage by enforcing the use of the Gotham font on all campaign literature. Steve Jobs honed his design sense by studying typography.
The funny thing about fonts is that you know the right font when you see it. You also react violently against any font that clearly doesn’t fit.
Choose two fonts for your brand. One font for titles and another font for body text. The best choices combine a san-serif font like Arial a serif font like Georgia.
Here’s an example:
Use this nifty tool at http://font-combinator.com to whip up your own custom combinations. Be careful to pick fonts that are likely to be installed on your reader’s computers. The font-combinator will help you select the right options.
Friend, we can go on for days about your writing voice. Frankly I think people make too much fuss about writing voice. My advice is simple – write like you talk. If you swear like a sailor with a bad case of hemorrhoids, then let it fly. If you are a prim and proper grammar snob – have at it.
The only rule is never, ever, ever, try to sound like someone else. This often happens when the street-tough writer tries to sound like a Wall Street executive. It doesn’t work.
Let me go back to Steve Jobs one more time. People have made fun of Apple’s frequent use of over-the-top adjectives like Magical, Revolutionary, and Stunning.
But they can get away with it because 1) their products are damn good and 2) Steve Jobs naturally talked about every product this way. The words aren’t an act. They aren’t marketing. They are how Steve Jobs talked. It’s how Apple executives talk. It’s their voice and they own it.
Do the same.
I’m like a rich kid on Christmas morning when I find a new theme website. Themes are shortcuts for creatively challenged bloggers. Theme designers pick the colors, fonts, and most of all – the layout for the blogger.
Out of all of the brand tools. Layout, I believe, has the most impact. While there is no such thing as a “best” layout, there are a few rules that should be observed.
Whitespace is the empty area around your text and photos. Whitespace gives the content room to breathe. It also helps readers focus on the most important information.
Above the Fold: Your reader’s attention will drop off the further they scroll down the page. Make sure that the most important elements are placed higher in your blog’s layout. Take note that the “above the fold” guideline is just that – a guideline. People will stick with your page if you have compelling content. Just make sure that your content is indeed…compelling.
Everything on your page should have a purpose. Keep distractions to a minimum. Your audience will look for cues in your layout to decide which parts to pay attention to. Look at every element and decide if it adds to your brand and assists your readers. If it doesn’t, eliminate it.
The Most Important Ingredient: Consistency
Once you’ve decided on each element of your brand, review every communication to ensure consistency with your overall look and feel. Over time this consistency will establish your brand’s voice and create emotion in your target audience.