22 Jul How To Create A Strong Brand Identity Online
Before someone chooses to work with you, I bet they spend time searching for you online, looking at your website and your social media, seeing what they can find out about you before they purchase. This is one of the reasons why creating a strong brand identity online is really important. If they’re looking, then you need to make sure that what they find is what you want them to see.
What do you do?
Who are your customers?
2. Look at your existing clients. Make a four square grid labelled a. LOVE working with, make me money. b. LOVE working with, don’t make me much money. c. Dislike working with, make me money. d. Dislike working with, don’t make me money. Mark each of your clients on this grid and see which ones fall in the best box (LOVE working with, make me money) these are the people you want to be attracting more of into your business.
Just because you’re attracting these people doesn’t mean you won’t attract other types of people or projects – but it gives you a chance to enjoy your work and still be able to afford that holiday at the end of it. Think about the people who have fallen into that box and see if you can find any similarities between them. Are they a certain type of business or a certain age group? Write your findings down.
3. Check out your social media analytics. You can do this on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and it can be really eye opening to see who is following you – and then to see if it’s the result you’re after! Don’t forget to check out your Google Analytics too.
What are you values?
Now that you’ve considered these things – and hopefully a few more questions too – you can work on creating a strong brand identity online.
Here’s what you need to consider next:
1. Your logo. You need to be happy with your logo – if it doesn’t fit with your values and won’t appeal to your audience then consider finding a designer to tweak it or create a new one. Then ensure that you use it in all the right places. I actually don’t think that you need to use your logo every single time you put some content out there – as long as you are using part of your brand identity (see the next points!) the whole point of creating a strong brand identity is that your business should still be identifiable without your logo. BUT – it’s not a bad idea to include it if you can, and as we’re talking about online here that shouldn’t be hard and adding your website address wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
2. Your brand colours. You’ll need to choose colours for your business which – you may have guessed this – communicate your values and appeal to your audience. Shocker. There are only 11 basic colour terms although there are of course millions of colours, so honing down your colour is the easy bit. Determining which shade is harder. Spend some time on this, it’ll be worth it.
Then make sure you have a file with your colour codes handy – I keep mine in Evernote. You can use an app like Kolormondo or a website such as Colorpicker to help you find the codes, or visit Design Seeds for inspiration. Each colour has a different meaning, so you’ll need to look into this to find out what your colours say about you – and to help you pick colours which work well together to communicate the right message. Once you have your colours nailed you’ll be able to use them over and over again, everywhere that you need to.
3. Typeface. Just as each colour has a different meaning, each typeface will give out a different impression, so once again spend some time deciding which typeface you want to use for your business. I’d recommend going with something really clear for your main typeface. so that people can read it – and then you can choose something a bit more whacky for headings if you want to.
You’ll need to think about the different uses you’ll have for text. In my case, I need text for the main text on my website, and text for my social media images, the images I use on my website in the sidebar and for my blog posts. I only use two typefaces, but you might think that you need more. Then you can set some rules about them – what colours you’ll use them in, what sizes, italic, bold – make some decisions and stick to them.
4. Your images. Now, it can be very hard to create images which looks exactly the same style every time. But you can try. Even if you can’t quite manage to get the lighting the same or photograph everything with the horizon at the exact same angle, there are certain things you CAN do to help your imagery look consistent and on brand. You could include one of your brand colours in each image. You could have a mascot in each image. You could always have a similar layout for a certain type of image. You could use the same filter each time – Color Story is an app you can use where you can create your own filter and use it on all of your photos to help them have a similar feel.
Other things you can do is always include your logo. If I take a photograph on my phone and don’t want to upload it to the computer to edit then I use an app called Ezy Watermark to add my logo to it. There are so many apps for editing your images, including Over and Typorama which are great for adding text – but if you want to move it onto a computer then Canva really is brilliant for adding type in the same way each time. You could do something as simple as adding a line of colour along the bottom of your image to having a whole series of things that you do with it first! Of course you could also draw your images or find them on stock sites – there are so many ways to make images for your business, so just give this some careful thought and think about how you can make sure that anyone seeing your work will know that it’s yours.
You might also want to think about other aspects such as a series of symbols or illustrations which you can use over and over again on your website or social media – and if you’re very organised and want to ensure your images make a great impact, then you could always commission a photographer or illustrator to create a series of images for you.
5. Pattern. This is something else you could add to your images of course – and it’s a great way to have a background image for text with very little thought whilst ensuring you’re on brand. Pattern can also be handy for using where there’s white space and you want to make it more interesting, for backgrounds, for headers on social media such as on your LinkedIn profile and any time you need an image but just don’t have one. I tend to hand draw patterns when I can, but if you feel creatively challenged then have a think about what images or shapes you could use to create a pattern which would tie in with your brand – and then you can either commission a designer or illustrator to develop a pattern for you or you could check out somewhere like Creative Market to see what you can find there and arrange the elements yourself.
Once you have all of this in place you’ll find being consistent with your brand identity will be fairly easy. Making decisions before you start and gathering a library of images to use means you don’t need to think too hard about how to create your social media images and blog posts – which you’ll be making regularly – and gives you a great place to start for anything you need to create for your website – or indeed anything that you need to design for offline use.
Making sure that you don’t deviate from the decisions you’ve made and keep to the guidelines you’ve set yourself will help your business to stand out online. You’ll have a brand identity which shows up over and over again with images that people know to be yours before they notice the url or the logo you’ve added in the corner. Being consistent with all of this will help your brand be memorable – which is what we all want really isn’t it? So that when someone needs what you do, they remember you right away.
Amy is a Brand Designer who LOVES helping business owners fall back in love with their business. She creates brand identities which not only look the business, but help her clients to attract business. She’s also a director of The Inspire Network, a networking organisation for female entrepreneurs in her part of the UK and has another business creating hand drawn and cut papercuts. Amy also loves connecting with people all over the world through social media, baking and reading when her kids give her the chance.
Get her free design success toolkit here > www.whiteacresdesign.co.uk/whiteacresdst
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