Strong personal brands are not built in a day. They are the product of much refinement. A happy marriage between words and design.
While there seems to be much confusion around when it comes to what a personal brand is and isn’t, let’s get this out of the way.
Branding is SO much more than a simple logo.
To create a beautiful and cohesive personal brand that looks and feels like YOU but also attracts your IDEAL readers, you have to listen to your audience in a thoughtful and intentional way. Then adapt accordingly.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
– Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
Your personal brand is not what YOU say it is. It is what OTHERS say based on the way you manage to touch their lives.
It’s not solely about you. It’s about the part of you that resonates with them.
Why do you need to brand your blog?
- To make a great first impression
- Look like a pro
- Be memorable
- Stand out and set yourself apart from the competition
Let’s have a look at the 5 key design elements you need to conquer in order to build an awesome personal brand that both your and your readers will LOVE.
1 | Pick a color palette that attracts the RIGHT audience
This is one of those things you should ideally do BEFORE you launch your blog. So if you’ve been blogging for a while and haven’t INTENTIONALLY picked your brand colors, it’s time to do it now.
But first things first, because I feel SO strongly about this. White text on a dark background can be difficult to read and can cause eye strain. Avoid it all costs if you don’t want to make your readers uncomfortable.
Phew! I feel better now.
Text should be black or dark gray on a white background and not the other way around. Black, white, and gray are neutral colors and combine well with any other color.
Choose primary and secondary colors
The next step is to choose 2 main colors for the different accents and links and up to 4 secondary colors that are different shades or hues of your primary colors.
To find the right colors for your brand, ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of audience do you try to attract?
- How do you want your readers to feel when they visit your blog?
- If your blog were a person, what would its 3 main personality traits be?
Create a mood board
Then create a secret Pinterest board and save a bunch of photos that reflect your answers and match the vibe you are looking for. This is called a mood board.
Once the mood board has a nice flow to it, it’s time to choose the hex codes of your primary and secondary colors using a color picker. You can either do this in Photoshop or use a free online tool.
A hex code is a pound sign followed by 6 digits. As an example, the hex code of the orange links on this blog looks like this #fe6860.
The last step is to write down the hex codes of your primary and secondary colors and keep them handy. You will need them every time you design new graphics to maintain a consistent brand identity.
Don’t have a blog yet?
If you don’t have a blog yet and you are interested in starting one, I wrote a step-by-step tutorial to help you create a blog quickly starting at only $2.95/month + get a FREE domain name.
If you’ve been blogging on WordPress.com and are ready to move to WordPress.org so you can have a custom domain and grow your brand, I also wrote a detailed guide on moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
2 | Get them hooked with a professional looking header
Whether you choose to go with a huge header that stretches the width of your blog or a small logo at the top of your page (like I have), make it MEMORABLE.
This is the first thing a reader sees when landing on your blog and just some boring Arial text with your domain name won’t make them fall in love with you.
A great header should be simple, clean and immediately recognizable. It should tell the story of your brand in a split second through both graphics and fonts.
If you were born with artsy skills…
…you can create a header in a number of ways:
- Canva is pretty amazing as it comes with all kinds of templates, graphic elements and cool fonts you can use to create a simple logo for free. This is a drag-and-drop tool, so you won’t be able to actually draw any graphics in it, but it can come in very handy to mix and match the elements of your design using the ready-made templates.
- If you are into actually creating the graphics yourself than Adobe surely has the right tool for you. You can infuse your logo with personality by using Photoshop brushes or draw a vector-based graphic in Illustrator. You can opt for the Creative Cloud membership and get access to the whole Adobe software collection or you can choose the Photography plan and get access to Photoshop and Lightroom alone. Adobe offers a month-to-month membership and if you are a student or teacher, you can save 60% off the monthly membership price.
If graphic design is NOT your cup of tea…
…or you simply don’t have time to brainstorm the concept and create the header yourself:
- You can go to Fiverr and have your logo designed for as little as $5. Most graphic designers on Fiverr will deliver your logo in a couple of days and even allow for 1-2 revisions. Plus you can browse samples of their previous work and read real customer reviews before you place your order. My absolute favorite logo designer on Fiverr is Barbara. She creates these absolutely stunning watercolor logos it’s impossible not to fall in love with and I can’t recommend her enough.
3 | Choose a theme that communicates your personal brand
While WordPress comes with hundreds of free themes, this isn’t the way to stand out for several reasons:
- Thousands of people use them and you don’t get to build a brand looking like somebody else
- Many of these free themes haven’t been updated in a very long time
- Very few offer customer support
- Some of them are poorly coded, which means they are not responsive or SEO optimized
Your theme is such a HUGE part of your brand that it simply can’t be ignored.
While I’m not a big fan of the free themes that come with WordPress, neither am I suggesting you should spend thousands of dollars on a custom design.
The most sensible option is to get a premium theme for under $100.
If you are not sure what you should look for, read my post on how to choose the perfect WordPress theme.
Nevertheless, the two most popular choices are Divi and Genesis.
- Divi is the most intuitive and widely used WordPress theme out there. What’s amazing about it is its visual builder that allows you to create and edit your pages on the front-end of your website without the need to preview your changes because everything is happening in real time on the page. Divi comes with several pre-made layouts but it’s so incredibly flexible and easy to use that you can create your own unique layout in a matter of minutes.
- Genesis framework + child theme. Genesis was created by StudioPress, one of the most well-known and reputable WordPress theme creators in the world. While Genesis is a parent theme that ensures the functionality of your blog, it also needs a child theme. The child theme allows design customization without touching (and potentially messing up) the foundation (or parent theme) underneath.
4 | Use photos that tell YOUR story
Branding is, to a certain extent, synonymous with consistency.
There’s no clearer sign that you’ve succeeded creating a strong brand than when a reader instantly recognizes one of your articles by simply spotting the featured photo in their feed.
However, branding goes beyond using the same social media template over and over again. It’s carefully curating each photo and processing it in the same way as the previous one.
When it comes to sourcing photos for your blog, you have several options:
- Take your own photos
- Hire a photographer every time you need new photos
- Purchase a stock photo membership
- Use free stock photos from websites like Pixabay and Unsplash
- Use a mock-up scene creator bundle and design infinite combinations starting from several beautiful objects
The free stock photos might seem the easy way out but they are also the biggest hurdle to overcome when creating a brand. When you use photos from different artists, each with their own unique vision, consistency is almost impossible to achieve.
That’s why I always recommend using photos taken by the same person and processed in the same style. Whether that’s you, a photographer you hire or a themed stock photo membership containing a collection of curated photos.
A fifth option is using a mock-up scene creator bundle. While this is mostly used to feature products in online shops, the truth is that certain more abstract niches can do very well by constantly mixing a few dozen objects in beautiful flatlays.
5 | Declutter the sidebar
In this post about decluttering your blog the Marie Kondo way, I suggested you reorganize your blog by category, not by location.
While I still believe that’s the way to go about increasing your blog’s overall looks and SEO, I also believe the sidebar is of paramount importance and a huge stepping stone in building your brand identity.
A crowded sidebar is simply put, unprofessional. You seriously don’t need more than one social media feed, and that’s usually your Instagram. You don’t need a tag cloud; you don’t need to list all your blog categories; nor your latest 10 blog posts.
You might think they are important, and I get it, because, hey, how else are people supposed to know you are on Twitter, right? But I’m telling you, this is so 2010.
There are better ways to keep your readers engaged by using internal links and including a similar posts plugin at the end of each post.
You can place branded social media icons in the top bar or footer.
And you should keep the number of categories in your navigation menu to a minimum.
The more minimalistic your blog’s design, the easier it will be for the reader to find what they are looking for.
Hey girl hey! I’m a writer, designer and the creator of I Am Unstoppable: A Journal For Winning At Life. I’m on a mission to inspire and empower women to simplify their blogs and business so they can show up for their dreams in a sustainable way. I also love to travel, play with kitties and decorate my home.