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We’ve all heard of the famous “do-over button” with its magical power to completely re-start a moment from the beginning, and chances are that we’ve all wanted this button at some point or another. Yet as much as we wish for this magical “do-over” to become real, there are actually very few opportunities to actually start completely fresh again in real life.
However, blogger’s do have one do-over opportunity, but sometimes don’t know where to start: the blog re-brand.
And as luck would have it, I’ve done it twice.
This is the second post in my blog re-brand series. In my last post, I wrote about what a blog re-brand is and what actually qualifies as a re-brand. You can read that post here. If you want a backstory (unconnected to the series) about why I decided to re-brand my blog for the 2nd time, you can find that story here.
To keep it simple, re-branding is hard. It takes weeks of grueling work not just in the execution, but in the planning, the critique, and fixing everything that goes wrong along the way. I’m not kidding when I say it took me 3 months to figure out how to fix my Google Analytics after my last re-brand. Some bloggers may be shocked to find out that not everything counts as a re-brand. After all, a re-brand should primarily focus on the change of content, rather than the change in its look.
However, this “look” does contribute to the visual elements of your brand. So when it does come time to hit the “do-over” button and re-brand your blog, these are the key visual brand elements that you should begin to consider:
Your Blog’s Theme
When I decided to re-brand my blog (again), one of the first things I did was install a new theme to give my site the photo-oriented look I envisioned, especially since I was switching my niche to travel blogging.
The website theme is your brand’s biggest visual element and most likely the one you will be spending the most time and money in as you research which theme to get.
While considering a new theme for your blog’s re-brand, here are some key questions to consider:
- Can you customize it?
- Most themes come with customization options, but it’s important to note that some come with more than others. For example, I’ve seen some themes where you can only change the theme’s colors to 3 or 4 set options, which is difficult if your brand’s colors are something completely different. Others may have different layouts available, a variety of home screen options, etc.
- What is the cost?
- Themes can vary greatly in price. Although a free or cheap theme can work great, it’s important to note that sometimes it’s worth it to invest more and get a high-quality theme. While I wouldn’t go spending hundreds of dollars on a custom theme (unless your blog is your part or full-time business), I would suggest setting aside a budget of about $50 to $60 on your theme as the highest point in your budget. I’ve found and used some amazing themes before that only cost me about $20, but depending on what kind of look you envision for your site, you might have to pay more for what you want.
- Is it easy to install and set up?
- Some themes come with installation packages (usually priced somewhere around $50). I generally recommend declining these services because you can do them yourself with a little research (not to mention that every theme I’ve used has come with set-up instructions and support ticket/email options). However, it’s up to you to gauge your technical comfort in installing a theme and how complex the theme’s installation is. A simple theme may only take an hour to set up, whereas my current one (which is quite complex!) left my site down for around a day as I worked to install everything correctly.
- Does the theme complement your blog’s “niche”?
- In a way, this makes little-to-no sense. After all, what does the layout of the site have anything to do with its niche? However, it turns out there’s a lot, as the theme can highlight certain portions of your site and bring them to the forefront of your visitor’s attention. For example, my blog’s theme focuses more on photography than any of my previous themes; since one of my new niches is traveling, having an emphasis on photography in my theme is key.
Before re-branding, my old site (Forever Charlotte Nicole) had a basic “blogger-like” theme on it: just a simple scroll view with a static column on the right that included my photo, an “about me”, and my social media links. It worked, but it wasn’t what I envisioned when I thought “travel blog”. I knew I wanted to take my blog’s look to a whole new level and invest in something that I knew would not only work for my site, but would help me towards my goal of creating my “dream blog”, and that was my new theme from Creative Market.
Creative Market has become my one-stop shop when it comes to anything blogging, especially since they helped me recover my site from the horrendous theme I had when I first started my blog. (To put it nicely, let’s just say that it didn’t customize well.) They offer everything a blogger could ever dream of, including fonts, presets, logos, and (of course) themes! Even better, they offer 6 free goods every week that you can download. Usually these are a few fonts, brushes for Illustrator, and photo sets, but on a few occasions I’ve seen them offer free blog themes and Lightroom presets, which is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
To check out Creative Market, just click here.
Your Brand’s Colors
Think of some of your favorite brand’s and most likely you can instantly pair a color to it. Whether it’s Target’s iconic red or McDonald’s bright yellow, these specific colors are easily associated with these brands, even if few other visual clues are provided.
Why is this important?
It means that–sometimes–none of your visual brand elements will matter except for the color. The color of the brand can create a key distinction, especially for social media sites like Pinterest or Twitter, where just seeing the key color of your brand can cause a loyal follower to stop their rapid scrolling and click on your post.
So how do you find your brand’s colors?
Truth be told, it’s sometimes just to going with what feels right. I highly encourage doing some research about color psychology beforehand, but most of it just means going with what coordinates with your personality and preferences; at least, I know that’s what I did. I prefer brighter colors because they seem to fit my personal aesthetic more, and I love the look of vintage-pastel colors, which is what I adopted with my Instagram theme.
Overall, just think about the personality of your blog, the typical styles that you edit your photos in, and so much more: these can all be hints into which colors you should choose.
When creating a theme, I recommend just picking out one brand color to start with as your key (identifying) color and then using a color scheme generator to pick out the corresponding colors. This makes the process much simpler, with guaranteed knowledge that the colors go well together.
My favorite color generator can be found by clicking here. It’s simple and free to use!
When I re-branded my blog, one of the driving factors was to change my site’s name. Truth be told, I outgrew my blog’s first name (Letters From Sunshine) just a few months after starting my blog; my blog’s second name (Forever Charlotte Nicole) was just a temporarily placeholder until I could think of something better.
So with my most recent re-brand, I finally changed my site’s name to something that I loved. However, this also meant that I needed to create a new logo.
Now I’m no graphic designer, nor do I pretend to be. For most of my blogging career, my blog’s logos and graphics were created thanks to Canva. However, for the purpose of growing my blog and skill-set, I did begin learning Photoshop when I re-branded so that I could create a new logo and set of Pinterest graphics; but outside of the basic realm of applying a photo, brush, and text, I am very much a novice.
Why did I decide to invest in an additional program?
It’s simple: I kept seeing the same fonts, graphic styles, and stock photos pop up on my feed again and again from people who use Canva. While I love it and believe it’s an amazing tool, especially for beginners, too many people were using the same graphics without enough alterations to set them apart. And when I kept seeing the same fonts that I had been using for my brand pop up more and more, I knew I needed to change to set myself apart from the crowd.
This is when I began to use Photoshop. Between the two platforms and a lot of Googling, I was able to create a logo that I loved. Although there are some professional logo creation services are out there (and they’re something I plan to use in the future), you can create a great beginning logo yourself for basic branding purposes.
In the photo above, you can see what my logo looks like. I used both Canva and Photoshop to create my logo, as there were certain fonts that I wanted to use from Canva that I couldn’t find to use on Photoshop. Although I have little knowledge in Photoshop, I was able to create a logo that fits in well with my visual brand.
So how do you create a great logo that’s on-brand with your, well, brand?
- Font Characteristics
- There’s no doubt that fonts have a personality of their own. They can be cursive and romantic, bold and powerful, or rounded and fun. The important part is to choose which font(s) speak to the overall personality and writing style of your blog.
- Consider which colors (if any) you are going to use in your logo, and how they will be used. Whether you’re using color in the font, in the background behind it, or in the “decorations” around the words, how and where you use color can affect your logo in a variety of ways.
- While some logos only include words, some include small graphics, whether they be as small as polka dots or as sophisticated as a city skyline. My own logo includes a paper airplane weaving in and out of the words. Using a graphic in your logo can easily make your logo stand out among others.
- Visual Weight
- As an art student, I cannot overemphasize the importance of visual weight. Essentially, this means making the fonts, colors, graphics, and everything else that goes into the logo evenly weighted throughout the visual space.
- The easiest way to think about visual weight is to imagine how a logo would look if one side of it had bold type, lots of colors, and chaotic polka dots, but the other side was a simple black font with no other decoration. Visually speaking, it wouldn’t make any sense and would be hard for site visitors to understand.
With the rise of Instagram and the constant push for blogger’s to follow a “theme”, it’s no doubt that we live in very photo-oriented society. While we can argue all we want about how this is affecting us and why, there’s no doubt that it has an effect on our visual brand.
Most of the time, when scrolling through Instagram, one of the main ways I’ll stop to actually like/comment on a photo is because there is something that I could visually identify as a “constant” throughout photos, whether it’s the colors, photography style, etc. It’s the “stop and interact” factor, and it can work in your favor if you apply it to your visual brand, too.
For example, by always using the same preset, my photo theme stays pretty constant throughout both my site and Instagram. This ensures that my photos are easily identifiable as being mine, even if my social media handle or account isn’t immediately seen, as these visual elements alone should be strong enough for someone to know that the photos came from me.
Font is a major–yet often overlooked–element in your design style. While having several different fonts is fine, you don’t want them to be majorly different, such as having bubble letters in your logo, a typeface font on your Pinterest graphics, a cursive font in your newsletter, etc. Choosing similar fonts (or a set of 3-5 of the same fonts) to use across all platforms is the best option when establishing your visual brand.
For example, I use a typeface font in half of my logo and in the bottom part of my Pinterest graphic, a cursive-like font in my logo and the top portion of my Pinterest graphics, etc. Again, it’s all about determining what will work best for you and your brand.
Like I said before: re-branding is tough. But when it comes to the visual brand, this is the opportunity to see everything tie together to create the blog you’ve been planning and dreaming of throughout the entire process.
For more re-branding tips and tricks, be sure to check back next week for the next post in the blog re-brand series:
- What is a Blog Re-Brand? (and how to tell if it’s time to re-brand your blog)
- 5 Tips on How to Pinpoint Your Blog’s Key Visual Elements During a Re-Brand (current post)
- The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Re-Branding Your Blog (Part 1)
- The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Re-Branding Your Blog (Part 2)
- The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Re-Branding Your Blog (Part 3)
- What Bloggers Wished They Knew Before Re-Branding their Blogs (coming soon)