I’ve always struggled with the whole “brand” concept. I look at businesses who have their logo stamped on everything and I just know who they are or what they represent. Whether it’s a favorite drink or type of computer, I never have to question or doubt.
As a blogger, I’ve never really known how to create that for myself.
Because if you think about it, we’re businesses in a sense. We offer a service (reviews or book promotion, whatever it may be), and often (though not always) it’s in exchange for provided content in the form of books, interviews, guest posts, etc.
Our platform becomes our brand.
And that goes for anyone with a bookish platform here, not just bloggers. So how can you brand yourself and your blog? What is branding in the first place?
To me, a brand is a distinguishing factor (name, symbol, etc) that people identify with YOU. I’d also expand that to include the types of comments, views/opinions, and content you share too because that’s what we deal with. Your brand could include a certain theme on instagram. Maybe a blog series or challenge. Or maybe it’s just you being you and that sets you apart from everyone else in some way.
I think there’s a lot to branding but I wanted to start with the basics today. Whether you’re a new book professional or one looking to change things up, here are a few tips I picked up over the years (and some I’m still working on too!) that I thought might be helpful.
Who are you as a book professional?
I know I keep using “book blogger” as my example but I realize that the book blogging world is changing. We have booktubers and bookstagrammers and booklrs and all sorts of book lovers across a multitude of platforms. So this goes for all of you, though keep in mind I’m speaking from my experience as a blogger so it may not all apply to you.
Your platform name
Before anything else, who are you? What is your blog/channel/account name? What are people going to see when they first go to your page? Your name can be both helpful and a hindrance depending on what you pick.
I’ve found, through my own re-branding over the years, that shorter blog names seem to work better. People are more likely to remember them rather than a longer title (5-6+ words), but that doesn’t mean they won’t. The key is being unique, creating a name that people will remember.
Part of creating your platform name is deciding what content you want to share. If you want to talk about books in general, a name that relates back to books in some way is helpful. Be careful about limiting yourself with your name. If your name includes something about “YA” or “Young Adult” books, that’s all well and good but it could be harder to break out and talk about other age ranges if you want to in the future. The same applies for names related to specific genres. If you even think you might want to talk about different kinds of books, take that into consideration with your platform name.
Search your name ideas before picking one to make sure it’s not already taken. I also recommend checking to see if that name is available on social media platforms (you can use NameChkr to see all of them at once). This is where having a shorter blog name can make things easier. You aren’t going to fail if your media handles don’t all match (mine don’t because I didn’t check first which was my fault) but it can be helpful for your followers to find you.
Social Media and Website URLs
Once you have your platform name and you’re sure that’s The One, I recommend making your social media accounts so you have them reserved and no one else can take that particular name. Even if you’re not sure about using it just yet. You can always delete it later. I’d also grab your preferred URL on your desired platform of choice for the same reason, especially if you want to have your own domain.
You have a name. Now what?
There are a few directions you can go. I’d recommend starting with the content you want to share with your followers. Are you going to review books? If so, what format will you use? What rating system? Do you plan to offer other promotional services (interviews, guest posts, etc)? Will you be participating in weekly memes or challenges? Everything you do says something about who you are as a book professional.
The reason I mention thinking about the content is because you want to keep things consistent.
This covers both the visuals and how you go about sharing content. Think about your favorite reviewers. Do they tend to use a similar voice for each of their reviews? I’m sure you can think of some who tend to be a bit more humorous in theirs and others who are more serious. How you present your views plays a part in who you are as a brand because when it comes down to it, YOU are your own brand as much as your platform is.
Content? Check. What about visuals?
Alright, you know what you want to put out into the interwebs, now it’s time to create the visual brand to represent yourself and your platform. Once again, consistency is key.
Whether you’re a blogger, bookstagrammer, whatever the case may be, a theme can work in your favor. It’s not a must-have but having one means that your followers are associating a certain “look” with your posts and if they see those posts somewhere online, they may be more inclined to click on them because they know what they’re getting.
I’d say having a cohesive theme is especially important for bloggers. It pulls your site together and can be visually pleasing as well as help with your branding. Pick a few colors that you like, though I wouldn’t select too many, and roll with it!
Your graphics go with your theme. This could apply to everything from graphics in your posts/content space to the social media icons you use, to your platform button for sharing, etc. If you have multiple social media pages, I recommend using a consistent image or set of images to ensure that followers know it’s you on each site. It’s also helpful to set up an icon photo (either of you or related to your platform) that you can use for profile images.
It’s easy, relatively speaking, to set up your brand, but whether it works the way you want it to with your followers is an entirely other matter. To that, I say:
Don’t be afraid to change your brand.
If you’re not feeling it anymore, whether it’s your theme, your content, etc, CHANGE IT. I know I said consistency is key and that would mean keeping the same theme and all that, but ultimately YOU need to be happy with your platform.
Keep in mind that re-branding yourself may cause a fluctuation in your following. People come to your platform for a particular kind of content and changing it up on them could go well and more people want to check your stuff out, or it’ll drive people away. It’s a risk you take with changing things up but it comes down to how big of a change and how much you want it. You have to love what you do and that includes your platform and its brand.