Since 2010, I’ve been involved in the blogging world in one way or another. Over those 8 years, I’ve seen my blogging brand go from non-existent to wishy-washy to defined to refined. I’ve rebranded more than a few times, and when I recently ordered new business cards from Basic Invite to tie in with my branding, I realized that I’ve neglected to talk to you, my readers, about my branding journey.
DISCOVERING YOUR BRAND
Throughout all the ups and downs of figuring who my blog is, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to discover a brand that’s sustainable, identifiable, and can grow with you – so that you’re not rebranding every year or so.
Sometimes rebranding is inevitable – I first named my blog Pineapples and Pearls back in the days of Cupcakes & Cashmere, which A. I outgrew and B. a restaurant in DC took the name a couple years ago and left me with no option but to rebrand (everyone assumed I was affiliated with the restaurant). I was happy to rebrand, grow up, and leave behind a name that now sounds way too preppy and juvenile.
Ideally, you want to land on a brand that evolves as you evolve. And that was my thinking in moving my blog to just my name. I can’t outgrow my own name, right? (Well, I suppose I could if I decide to change my name when I get married in December, but that’s a post for another day. Spoiler alert: it won’t be changing here.) For me, using my name gives me the flexibility to create a brand that encompasses everything that I believe fits into the lifestyle I’m curating on my blog and social media. With that in mind, I wanted to share the four considerations that I found most important in getting my brand to where it is now.
NUMBER ONE: FIND YOUR VOICE
I waffled back and forth a bit between this and number two, before finally deciding that finding your voice is the number one move you can make in defining your brand, particularly if you’re a blogger. You want your readers to relate to you – that’s why they keep coming back to read what you have to stay!
Whether you opt for a more formal voice or one that makes your readers feel like they’re having a conversation with a girl friend over a glass of wine is up to you. Think of a few personality characteristics that define the way you want to speak to your audience and consider those your style guide. Are you quirky? Sarcastic? Approachable? Serious? Sassy? The ever-helpful best friend? Let the characteristics that define you shine through in your writing.
Assuming you’re going for a more casual tone, don’t let grammar rules rule your writing. I know I’m making my grammar nerd friends cringe on occasion, but sometimes there’s not a grammatically correct way to write in the way that I speak. I also add in generous em-dashes and ellipses because those seem to convey the pauses and emphasis that my real life speech would have.
NUMBER TWO: DEFINE YOUR AESTHETIC
This is the point that I considered making number one, because in a visual world, defining your aesthetic is essential. What do I mean by your aesthetic? I’m throwing in everything from the typography you choose, to your color palette, to the way you edits your images and format your website.
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of tackling an entire visual overhaul? I can’t recommend the book How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone enough. I’ve read it cover to cover and refer back to it on a regular basis. While I haven’t yet implemented everything she recommends – I’m still working on identifying patterns and illustrations that work within my brand and where those would come into play – this book will help you consider everything from typography to color to brand styling. It will make you think holistically about the messages you’re sending into the word through the visual representation of your brand.
So, what changes have I made recently? I decided to go with a more editorial look for my website that allows me to showcase certain posts and gather my travel posts front and center. I opted for a black and white color palette that allows my colorful photography to pop. My typefaces are now limited to Montserrat, Lora, and Quickbrush. Images are edited in a crisp and colorful fashion that is bright without being overexposed.
This is also where my new business cards from Basic Invite came into play. I wanted something that spoke directly to my website. Where you’d know what to expect when you type in www.heatherbien.com. I’m no longer using my pineapple logo and I wanted something super simple and graphic. With Basic Invite, I was able to upload my own design using the typefaces from my website, load them into the upload your own option, and within a week I had 50 gorgeous customized business cards for under $30. If you don’t want to design your own business cards, or perhaps you’re just creating a calling card to attach to a resume rather than a branded business, definitely check out their gorgeous designed options. I’m obsessed with this painted chevron. (If you are designing your own, the size is 3.5″ x 2″ and you’ll want to have it in high res for printing purposes.) Looking for something else from Basic Invite? You can also find real estate business cards and photo Christmas Cards.
NUMBER THREE: KEEP IT CONSISTENT
Once you have your voice and aesthetic defined, keep it consistent. Don’t be chatty and and sarcastic on your blog while you’re super serious and informative on Facebook. Tell the same story from the same perspective and in the same voice, no matter which platform you’re on.
You want all of your touches to your audience to feel cohesive, like they’re hearing from the same person whether it’s on Instagram or Twitter. Keep your images similar across both your blog and your social channels. While the content will differ depending on character limits and what performs best on each platform, generally the look and feel will remain the same.
On the same note, collateral, like the business cards from Basic Invite that I mentioned above, also should remain consistent. As I said before, you want your audience to have the same experience whether they’re looking at a business card or your website.
NUMBER FOUR: BE AUTHENTIC TO YOURSELF
The easiest way to define your brand successfully? Keep it authentic to yourself. If you’re out there just being you, speaking like you, and looking like you, it’s super easy to stay true to your brand. Yes, its wonderful to get inspiration from other amazing, creative women, but you have to be you. You’ll stand out and succesed when you do your own thing and carve out your own space in this internet world.
Thank you to Basic Invite for sponsoring this post and thank you to all the brands that make www.heatherbien.com possible! All opinions are, of course, my own.