Branding is the It Girl of blogging and online business right now. Google “brand your blog” and you’ll get 50,000,000 + results with titles like 20 Tips to Brand Your Blog and Branding Your Blog for Success.
Building a brand for your blog involves creating a Style Guide to help keep your brand cohesive and on point.
So, What is a Style Guide?
A style guide is a document that serves as a brand style reference for your blog. Your style guide helps you keep your branding consistent throughout your website, content and more.
A style guide includes logo variations, a color scheme, fonts, patterns, graphics, icons, and illustrations.
These styles are then used across your brand assets including on your blog or website, your shops (like Etsy), your social media profiles, business cards, stationary and more.
Why Branding Your Blog is Important
The main advantage of creating a brand and style guide for your blog is to create a recognizable brand identity.
This brand identity helps you keep a professional and put-together look throughout your online presence. Think of it as a really great outfit that’s accessorized with the perfect shoes, bag, and jewelry.
A cohesive brand will really help you create a successful blog because it helps readers know and remember who you are and what you look like. A brand helps make your blog memorable. This helps build brand recognition and return visitors to your blog. A loyal reader or customer is the ultimate goal in running a blog or business.
As an example of how a strong and consistent brand can help, think of someone who stumbles upon one of your blog articles on Pinterest. They read your blog and enjoy it, but then leave and go elsewhere.
If you have a consistent brand style, every time that visitor see an article, post, product or tweet with the same colors, font, and style on Pinterest or elsewhere, they’ll be reminded of your content. This will make them more likely to become a regular reader or customer. You have gained a loyal reader. Score!
Using a style guide also helps save you time by taking the guesswork out of deciding on your colors and fonts every time you create new content!
DIY or Working with a Branding Professional?
Tons of branding shops have sprung up across the internet. I can name at least 10 off the top of my head. Probably more.
When working with a branding professional, they’ll ask you a bunch of questions about your blog or business to get a feel for your brand.
Then they’ll have you collect inspiration images in order to create a mood board for your brand. As part of the service, they’ll create a mood board, logo, alternate logos, font selections, color scheme, suggested graphics and patterns for your brand.
After working with a branding professional, your brand will (hopefully) have a gorgeous new style guide to help you establish or re-brand your online (and offline!) presence.
These services can cost anywhere from $300 up to $6,000 or more.
You can also find “pre-made” brand kits. But chances are, someone else will have snatched up the same style guide as these are often sold multiple times. So, your brand won’t be unique, which really defeats the purpose of a brand.
Ouch! If you’re just getting started or working on a budget, working with a branding professional may not be it for you. Your best option will be to DIY it!
You’ll often run into articles about branding that just insist it’s not possible to DIY your own brand. It just doesn’t work! You must have a professional do it for you!
Eh. I’ve done both DIY and professional branding and I don’t feel one is better than the other.
Actually, if you end up with a branding professional that doesn’t “get” or “hear” you, it may be worse because you’ve paid for something that doesn’t work for you or your brand. You may end up feeling angry, frustrated and out a bunch of cash.
Or trying to DIY your style guide for your blog may be overwhelming. Maybe creating graphics and putting together color schemes aren’t your thing.
Both options are fine. Do what works for you!
So, if you’re ready to be brave, be bold and DIY your own brand, I’ve got a complete 10 Step process for you. This is similar to the process I use when working with custom clients but tailored to a DIY situation.
DIY Your Blog Brand: A 10 Step Process
So, you’ve decided hiring a professional just isn’t in your budget. Well, I’m here to provide a step-by-step process to DIY a style guide for your blog or website. Workbook and templates included!
Don’t get intimidated by the idea of a 10 step process. I’ve broken it down into smaller steps to prevent overwhelm. Baby steps are easier and quicker to accomplish. I love checking things off a checklist or to-do list! That sense of accomplishment keeps me going.
Before we get started, you will need a few tools and we’ll talk about a few more at certain steps in the branding process.
First, I recommend Adobe Photoshop for creating logos, mood boards, and style guides. In fact, you’ll be able to pick up some Photoshop templates for all of these in our Resource Library.
Some designers live and die by Adobe Illustrator for logos and graphics. And for some good reasons…if you’re a professional graphics designer.
I find Illustrator has a much steeper learning curve than Photoshop. And you can design great logos in Photoshop. And it’s perfect for creating layered templates like mood boards and style guides. If you’re comfortable with Illustrator, go for it. Otherwise, stick with Photoshop.
For font choices, I recommend Google Fonts. They’re free and easy to include on your website or blog. Blogger.com sites come with a selection of Google Fonts built in (cause,
Blogger.com sites come with a selection of Google Fonts built in (cause, they’re run by Google, so, of course). Many WordPress themes include Google fonts options (like ours) or you can use a plugin to add these fonts to your site. Squarespace gives you access to both Google fonts and Typekit. Plus, Canva (our favorite online graphic design app) has all the Google fonts available.
Yes, Creative Market has some beautiful fonts. But it’s much harder to add a custom font to your website. If you’ve got the coding chops, go for it. If not, stick with the Google Fonts. They have 700+ free fonts and some really great ones.
OK, Let’s do this!
Step 1: Brainstorm time. Find your Brand Personality
Before you dig in and start designing your new logo and color scheme, you need to define what your blog or business is about.
Before you try to figure our your styles, it’s important to really understand what your purpose is and who your target audience is. You want your brand to represent who you are, your purpose and to appeal to your target audience.
On a sheet of paper or in my handy workbook, answer the following questions about your blog or business:
- Why do you want to style or rebrand your blog?
- What is the purpose of your blog?
- What is your blog niche?
- Who is your ideal audience?
At the end of this post, you can download my The Blog Style Guide Workbook including a Style Guide Questionnaire for more questions to help you get your creative juices flowing!
Step 2: Create an inspiration board
This is one of my favorite parts of the process!
It’s time to use your answers from the questionnaire to transform your brand personality into visuals. (Plus I’m a total Pinterest addict!)
I recommend Pinterest to gather up your inspiration visuals.
Create a secret board and pin anything that relates to what you want your brand to represent. Remember to keep the new brand personality you just created in mind when pinning.
I like to pin color themes, photos, fonts and typography, logo inspiration, illustrations, patterns, website layouts and even outfits to start forming a visual translation of my brand personality.
Again, remember that you want to reflect your blog’s brand personality, even if it’s a look that’s different from your personal style.
For example, if you want your blog to come across as professional and feminine, you might want to collect images with a minimal look mixed with pastels or other “feminine” colors.
But if you want your blog to radiate energetic, fun vibes, you could pin bright colors and bold fonts and typography.
You can also get inspiration by seeing out what others in your market are doing. However, it’s very important not to copy anyone as you want to create your own style. You want to stand out from the crowd, not look like a copycat.
Check out the Pinterest inspiration board for our latest makeover:
Step 3: Narrow Your Inspiration
Once you’ve collected a decent amount of inspiration images, 20 – 50, but no more or it gets too overwhelming, go through your Pinterest inspiration board.
Look for common colors or themes. Group together any images and colors that work particularly well together and best represent your blog or business. You can even move them to a new board to get a better feel for how those images work together.
Now, use Photoshop and one of my free mood board templates (you can download them at the end of this post), to design your new mood board. Arrange the images onto the mood board then take a second to “see” them together.
I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to mood boards, check it.
Does your new mood board match your Brand Personality? Sometimes you create a beautiful mood board but it doesn’t really match your brand vision (This has TOTALLY happened to me. Maybe a few times). Make sure before going forward with the rest of your brand design that your mood board matches your Brand Personality.
Now that you have your mood board, you can use it as the inspiration for building your whole brand style. Let’s get to it!
Step 4: Pick a Color Scheme
Use your mood board to choose 4 – 6 colors that you’ll use throughout your site and content.
If you’re using Photoshop, the eyedropper tool is fantastic for picking colors from images.
If you use the Chrome web browser, there are a couple browser extensions, ColorPick Eyedropper and ColorZilla that can be used right in your browser to grab colors from images in any website.
You will stick to these colors for any brand asset that you create, like your website, social media banners, shop banners, business cards, etc.
It’s best to just use 3 or 4 main colors for your logos and headers. Too many colors just look messy.
I like to reserve one color, generally a darker or brighter or contrasting color for buttons and CTAs (calls-to-action) like sign up and buy buttons. You will notice on this site I use the dark green-blue very sparingly, generally just for my CTA buttons like Buy buttons and Sign Up buttons.
Make sure you consider colors for your website body and header fonts. Black is a good go to for text font but with some color palettes, it can be too stark. If you’re using a feminine or pastel color palette, consider the vast array of grays available.
Now that you have your color scheme, add the colors to your Style Guide template (you can grab a mini and extended style guide template for Photoshop at the end of this post).
Make sure to include the hex and/or CMYK colors for website and print use. This just makes it so much easier when you’re creating graphics or printables.
OK, let’s get practical and really apply this color scheme:
- What colors will you use in your logo?
- What colors will you use in your social media or shop banners?
- What will your link color be?
- What will your header and body text be?
- Do you want all your icons to be the same color?
- What color would make a good accent color for buttons and CTAs?
I’ve included a Color Scheme Planner in the Blog Style Guide planner which you can snag at the end of this post.
Need a little inspiration or help finding a harmonious color palette?
And don’t miss my color scheme board on Pinterest:
Step 5: Choose Fonts
Choose 2 – 3 fonts to use throughout your site and brand assets.
Avoid using any more than this otherwise, your site and graphics will look messy and unprofessional. The rule in web design is generally 3 fonts max.
An important part of choosing blog fonts is to make sure the fonts are clean, easy to read, and work well together.
If your content is unreadable because of a trendy font, your readers are going to bounce quickly and never come back.
I’m a typography nerd. I have more than 1000 fonts installed on my computer. I like to use the excuse that it’s because I need them for my business…yeah, right.
Anyway, there is a lot of philosophy behind making good font pairings. But that’s beyond the scope of this article. What I am going to do is point you toward some create resources that will help you pick great font pairings:
https://www.typewolf.com/ – has a section dedicated to pairing recommendations and even a guide to premium font alternatives
https://fonts.google.com/ – each font description comes with a pairings section that recommends other Google fonts often paired with the font of choice
http://fontpair.co/ – More google font pairings
http://font-combinator.com/ – Test Google font pairings online with this great tool
http://brandingforthepeople.com/fonts-by-personality/ – learn about font “personalities” in a quick and visual way
You can also check out my font board on Pinterest (yes, I have a font board – well 2 boards actually…):
Now plot out where you’ll use each font and what sizes:
- What font will you use for headers
- Will you use all uppercase for headers?
- What font will you use for content and body text?
- What font sizes will you use?
- Will you use bold, underlined or italic text?
- Where will you use an accent font?
I like to choose 3 fonts when designing a site.
- I use one for headings or logos. This font should be the boldest or noticeable.
- Another font is for subheadings and accents.
- And the third for the main content text. The content font should be simple and easy to read.
I’ve included a Blog Font Planner in the Workbook that you can score at the end of this post. Add your fonts to your Style Guide template.
Step 6: Design Logos and Banners
When designing a logo or banner, keep in mind that it will be one of the first things your readers see and what they are likely to remember you by. This means your logo should represent your brand well. It should be consistent with the colors and fonts you’ve chosen for your brand.
Your primary logo is your “main” logo. It is used for promotion and at the top of your blog.
You can also have a secondary logo that’s smaller or simplified. This is used for email signatures, stamps, and watermarks. If you chose to use an alternate logo, make sure the two logos aren’t completely different styles, as this could be confusing. Keep the colors and fonts consistent.
Don’t forget to create a simple “favicon” for your website. This is a small, square logo that is very simple as it will appear at the top of the web browser in the tab along site the name of your site. Simple designs in one color work best for a favicon.
I did not include any logo templates in our Resource files because I believe logos should really be unique. If you get any part of your brand professionally done, I recommend it be your logo.
But if a professional, custom logo just isn’t in your budget, check out my post on How To Create a Logo in Canva + Video Tutorial.
Now, take some time to plan how you’ll use your logo(s):
- Where are you going to use your logos?
- Are you going to have a secondary or alternate logo?
- Will you change the colors of your logo for different backgrounds?
- Will your logo contain images or graphics?
- Will you save your logo in different file formats?
For file types, I like .png with a transparent background. JPEG logos tend to be less useful. Create a large, high-quality version of your logo to start with. I use a 300dpi resolution file that is 3600px square to start.
I can always crop or change resolution later. This high-quality starter file makes sure I can use the logo for print projects as well as a website logo or social media banner.
For some logo inspiration, check out my logo board on Pinterest:
Once you have your logo and any extra pieces, add them to your Style Guide.
Step 7: Choose your Image Style
Choosing an image style for your blog is an important step in creating a style guide that is often overlooked. I know, I totally didn’t think about this when I first started blogging!
But you want your post and content images to match the rest of your website and brand style, too!
Your post Featured Image or other images will hopefully be shared on networks like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Make sure they represent your brand.
It’s always a great idea and time saver to create a couple Featured Image templates that you can use to create a really cohesive and branded blog with. Make sure your include your blog name or URL on your Featured Images.
Guess what! I’ve included a pack of 4 Featured Image templates in our Resource Library. It includes 3 sizes for each template (Pinterest, Facebook & Twitter and Instagram compatible sizes).
Watermark your other post images with a small white version or your logo or link to your website.
Think about the overall look you’re going for with your brand, and how you can ensure your images fit in with that style guide:
- What image sizes are supported by your blog theme?
- Will you use a few post templates with text overlay for your Featured Images?
- Do you want high or low contrast and saturation for your photos?
- Are your images going to be light, bright images or darker tones?
- Are you going to crop your photos to a particular size for consistency?
- Are you going to give the images a border?
- Are you going to use a filter or color overlay on your images?
If you edit or apply filters to your photos, use the same technique for all your images. This way you won’t creating conflicting looks. As long as you keep the photos consistent with each other and the rest of the brand, you’re good to go!
Step 8: Select Icons and Graphic Elements
Custom icons and graphics can really make your site unique. You can easily purchase custom icons and graphics on Etsy or Creative Market. Or create them yourself with Photoshop!
- Are you going to include buttons, icons, patterns or graphics design features to your site?
- Where will you use custom icons and graphic elements?
- What style will they be?
Add these elements to your Style Guide.
Step 9: Brand Your Social Media Accounts
Keep your brand styles consistent, even beyond your blog site. Make sure you maintain your branding everywhere you have an online presence. This means your social media accounts and profiles.
Think about all the ways you can customize your social media accounts, how will you maintain your style on these sites?
- Will your Twitter or Facebook banner be the same as your website banner?
- What kind of images will you re-pin on Pinterest?
- Will you have a background color or pattern on your Twitter profile?
- Will you have a theme on your Instagram account?
When using Instagram, think before you post. Make sure your Instagram images are in keeping with your brand.
Step 10: Evaluate and Apply Your Style Guide
By following the 9 steps above, you will have completed your Blog Style Guide Workbook and Blog Style Guide!
Take a few minutes to look at your overall style guide to ensure that it makes sense. Make sure your logo works well with your colors and fonts as well as any graphics and patterns. A well-designed style guide will have a cohesive and harmonious look.
Looking for a little inspiration? Check out my Pinterest Board with over 1300 different brand style guide templates for examples of well-done style guides.
Once you’re satisfied with your style guide, start applying your styles to your website and social media profiles. This is also a great chance to post about your new look and if you’ve also re-defined your niche or blog purpose.
Remember to carry your new styles across all parts of your online presence including shops like Etsy or Creative Market and to your social media profiles. And don’t forget items like product images.
Creating a unique and consistent brand will help you create a memorable online presence.
Don’t forget to enter your email below to download my free Blog Style Guide Workbook and templates!
After you sign up, you’ll get immediate access to our Resource Library where you can download all the files.
Current subscribers can hop over to the Resource Library and download their copies now.
I’ve included the following worksheets and template to help you create the perfect style guide for your blog:
- The Blog Style Guide Workbook
- Mood board templates
- Style guide templates
- Post image templates
Wrap It Up
I’m sure you’re eager to get started on your DIY blog brand. Remember this should be a fun process about discovering your brand. Take each step and give it all your serious attention and you’ll end up with a stunning brand for your blog!