Article Series: Digital Academy for Young Content Creators (Part 3)
Building your brand and coming up with the visual and identity message that sends out the right message of you might seem like a tough cookie to break. And while knowing what you want to talk about is slightly unnerving, creating your brand at times seems like a nightmare.
So far, we have covered how to approach your content creation strategy and work with platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. Now it is time to take it a step further and conquer the basics of branding.
Yeah sure, it sounds a bit scary, and on first glance, it might be, but relax, follow the steps, we’ll guide you through it.
Pull out a pen and paper (JK – the computer or phone will do, of course), and get ready to dive back into the Digital Academy for Young Creators. Seriously, you ready?
Every person has a brand that communicates to the rest of the world who they are.
You do it through the way you talk, dress, what you believe in and stand for.
#TruthTalk: Your brand needs to be straight fire.
There are things that set you apart from other content creators and help you create a unique brand experience.
These are brand messaging, tone of voice, and brand visual identity.
So now you are thinking, WTH are those?
Let’s take it easy and go through them one by one. By the time we are done with explaining, you’ll be ready to create your brand.
Disclaimer: The real-life examples of branding done right is buried at the bottom of this post. You’ll get there, but don’t be a smart pants and skip theory altogether. Patience my friend, patience.
Brand messaging represents your beliefs and what you value – the things you support and stand for. It is the way you would like to be seen and understood, both internally – by you and your immediate surroundings, and externally – by your audience.
Let’s start with the internal perspective. To help you define this aspect of brand messaging, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you stand for?
- If you have a team, what do your friends and family think your values are?
- What makes your content unique and valuable to your audience?
The external perspective is all about how your audience sees you, the impression you leave, and as according to them, which ‘box’ you fit in. Here it’s good to have a quick check-in with your audience, which nowadays you can make even by posting a pool or discussion on your Instagram stories, or opening the conversation in YouTube comments. You want to find out:
- How did they find you online?
- What makes them come back to your channel/profile?
- What is what they value about the content like yours?
- How would they describe your profile/channel in one word?
Once you get the answer to these questions, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the messages that resonate with your audience and what they value most.
Tone of Voice
First things first, the tone of voice is not some mythical term you’ll find yourself studying for your English AP class or on the back of your SAT flashcards.
When we say ‘tone of voice’, we actually mean the manner in which you are speaking. When talking to others, are you funny or could someone mistake you for a highschool teacher? More importantly, think of the way in which your audience speaks. Will your words match theirs and inspire them?
Your tone of voice is important for your blog posts, social media posts, and all other content because it has to go hand in hand with your followers.
Imagine that you want to create entertaining content for your followers and use formal, lecture-type language, full of unfamiliar terminology you yourself barely understand. While the idea of using ‘big words’ sounds cool at first, you might come across as a bit stiff and rigid. Not to say boring and lacking ‘the spark’.
Social platforms are meant for a relaxed, everyday language with a kick: aim to inspire, humour, and connect with your followers.
Although you might be able to reach a certain number of people with a standoffish attitude, this might also be your pitfall. Therefore, take a moment to ‘hear yourself’ when you talk and hang with your friends. How do you sound?
Also: What’s important is that your tone has to be consistent and the same across channels because your audience expects not only to relate to you and your content, but also to rely on you to provide what they are looking for.
By not being consistent in things that you post, you might appear like you’re not sure who you are and what you’re trying to achieve. Without you wanting so, this can lead to you coming across as unreliable and untrustworthy. Or even worse – fake.
Brand Visual Identity
Generally speaking, brand identity is how others see you and your work. It includes the two things we discussed earlier – your brand messaging and how you communicate, but also all the elements of your visual identity such as your:
- Logo/profile photo – a very important element of your brand. Having a great logo can increase your brand recognition or, in other words, the ability of your subscribers/followers/fans to recognize your brand over others. So, the next step is thinking of what would represent visually who you are the best. However, when you are just starting, a professional profile photo will work just as well.
- Colour palette – a crucial part of your brand identity, since choosing the right colours for your brand and logo makes it easier for people to understand your brand and create certain associations. Psychology of colours is something you and your team need to understand well because if the colours you use, trigger the right emotions in your audience, the effects can be far-reaching for your brand awareness.
- Images and photography – the imagery you want to use including filters, size, and other additional elements you want to apply.
- Typography – fonts you use. You might think this is a bit unusual but the design of fonts triggers emotions as well.
Once again, consistency is the keyword here. All your platforms, social media, and website need to be unified because that makes it easier for your audience to memorize you and recognize you. And as your content evolves and you start adding more interactive elements, videos, and graphics to your platforms, remember to use the same styles.
If you have a follower base, no matter the size, you could survey them to help you by checking what’s the first thing they think of when they see your visuals.
Ask questions like:
- What do your followers think of when they see the colours of your brand, the design, or your logo?
- Do your followers understand what your logo means? Would they be able to recognize it easily?
- Does your brand inspire trust and credibility? What about your content?
- Can your followers link the colours you use to your niche, your brand messaging, and logo?
For someone who’s just starting, it might be best to ask a friend who’s into the design to give you a hand or even hire a freelancer to help you out. As your brand and content evolve, you’ll want to upgrade your visual identity as well. But setting these foundations is a great way to start your branding.
#ProTip: The design of your brand identity needs to work both for you and your audience
Branding in Real Life
One great example of a well-executed brand strategy is Jude Devir’s Instagram account. While his posts draw us in and leave us resharing, liking and wanting for more, his brand identity speaks volumes. Firstly, check out his logo. You’ll notice that it is easily recognisable, and a true representation of Jude’s personality. His tone of voice is friendly, humorous, and at times making you think you are best pals. Not to mention the level of engagement with his followers!
If you pay attention, you’ll see consistency in his posts, across all channels including the website.
For an example of a slightly different content and excellent branding turn to an Instagram handle So Worth Loving. It all began with a girl opening a blog, few thousand t-shirts and ended up as a whole foundation sometime later. We could go on and on, but that would spoil a surprise. So just look them up and see for yourself.
If you are a yogini or enjoy yoga, you surely have noticed YogaGirl popping up on your Instagram discover (or quite perhaps you are already following her for all we know). Well, just in case this is the first time you are hearing of Rachel Brathen – the face behind YogaGirl, a fair warning: You’ll find yourself scrolling for hours with your thumb double-tapping every second or two. With ‘love and kindness’ being her moto, you’ll come back crawling for more.
What might be the most interesting,
If you Google YogaGirl, you’ll find staggering stats on success she has achieved over the last several years. You might find interesting that it all began with a single Instagram profile and slowly grew to a conglomerate. Check out her website and you’ll find that she is a true entrepreneur with yoga retreats, podcasts, her own studio in Aruba and what not.
Having something look pretty won’t be enough. You need your brand to mean something to both you and your followers. If there is a disconnect between the way you see your brand and the way your followers do, it will discourage them from interacting because it signals that you don’t understand each other.
Otherwise, you might be left on Seen.
Brand Foundations Set
It is a challenge to build a strong brand because it requires you to be brave. Brave? Yes, be brave to be authentic and find alignment with others at the same time.
To some, this might sound as if your audience is in control of your brand – but it’s not true. You can’t make other people like you or your content if you’re pushy and aggressive about it. Prioritize their interests and well-being and use your creativity to both express yourself and your beliefs and provide them with the type of content they would like to interact with. When you create a brand experience which is both memorable and worthy of your audience’s time, they will revisit your online spaces and engage with your content again.
Therefore, observe yourself for a moment. Then follow through the steps we outlined for you in this guide. All right? Fab. You’ll thank us later.