Creating Your Brand Identity for Your Blog with Jen Orcutt

Jen is a brand designer and consultant for a passionate soulful entrepreneurs at White Brick Design Studio. When it comes to design, Jen believes that the key to success is infusing her client’s unique vision and style in to every element of the brand.

In this episode you’ll learn:

    • How to find your brand identity
    • How to get to know your brand and what works for you
    • The importance of having a beautiful and functional website

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Tell the listeners about you and what you do.
I am a brand stylist and web designer. Typically, I work with female entrepreneurs, in general but recently I’ve really been working a lot one-on-one with food bloggers specifically. I help them uncover how they want their brand to be showcase to the world, how they can really tapped into their own individual values and how they want their brand to be conveyed and then how we can integrate that into a design that really helps them shine and helps their mission and their vision come to life which is a lot of fun.

You used the word brand identity a lot on your website, can you just break down exactly what that even means?

Brand identity to me, how I define it, is how someone feels when they see your brand. When they see your logo or when they go to your website, how that makes them feel; that is going to be the identity that you create for yourself and for your business.

It’s important to have one because especially as a food blogger, the industry tends to be a little bit saturated. There are a lot of food bloggers, so creating a strong brand identity that is really unique to who you are is so important in terms of separating yourself from others in the industry.

A brand identity, in terms of what it would actually include, is a logo and a color palette and font pairings and really all the different facets of what your brand looks like combining all of those in a way that only you have and only matches with your unique style.

How do you think people can just get started with creating a brand identity if they are trying to do it on their own?

If you want to get started on your own, the first thing you want to do is just browse Pinterest. Pinterest is such a great tool for discovering inspiration, different colors you like, different textures, fonts. Let’s say you tend to be drawn to teals, looking up on pinterest teal colored palettes and just getting a feel for different colors that really speak to you and really resonate with you.

Currently, I’m working on something and I’m going to be launching customize branding kits. What I am doing is I’m building an entire personality quiz that you can take and then based on your results, I’ll send you a branding kit that mimics the results. But in the meantime, definitely browsing Pinterest, getting a feel for colors, fonts, logos that you like, looking at other websites, how they are doing it and then from a design perspective, if you have Photoshop, playing around with that Photoshop is really valuable resource to have even if you are not a designer.

Just, in general, if you are going to be creating your own graphics. I know Canva is another really great resource that’s a free resource if you don’t have Photoshop. But just playing around and really taping into who you are and what appeals to you and the message that you want to convey to your readers.

Where do you think the process starts for knowing your brand a hundred percent and then figuring out your brand identity?

My best advice would be to really get a feel for what your readers respond most to and you can do that just by going through the comments or by sending out questionnaire or survey and just getting a feel for what they really like about your blog and your brand. Engage with them because they are going to be the people that invest or follow your brand, so you want to make sure that it is speaking directly to them.

Surveys are a great way of doing that, contacting them if you have an e-mail list just sending out a quick little e-mail with asking for them to respond. From a design perspective again, if you haven’t established a strong sense of self within your brand, if you’re just going through the motion in order to put out posts and to keep up with the more popular bloggers, then that’s not going to do you any service. I think, number one, you need to be blogging for yourself and uncovering your own identity.

What do you look for most in an effective website and how can you make it more professional and functional?

There are few different things that I recommend to bloggers to really want to separate themselves from a blogger and really transition into a business owner. There’s a big difference there. And you can be a business owner as a blogger however there’s a difference between identifying yourself as just a blogger.

In terms of design, some main things that you want that will really help you become more professional is a landing page. When people click on your website URL taking them to a homepage rather than directly to your blog page. This makes a huge difference because it really allows you to showcase everything that you want your brand to be represented by on that homepage. Some common things that you might want to include in your homepage are an e-mail subscription box.

Let’s say your three most recent or most popular posts, if you have any kind of free incentive that you are offering, you want to plug that up there, your logo, naturally it’s going to be on every page of your website. Just being intentional about where you want your visitors to go when they visit your website.

If you have services that you provide, you want to make sure that there is a big button that links to your service page and any navigation buttons that will link to your most important pages on your site. Showcasing that and strategizing that on your homepage really allows you to dictate where new readers or followers will go and also just from a design standpoint it just looks more professional to have a homepage rather than going directly to your blog page. If you go directly to the blog page that is going to be what your known for, just a blogger.

Even if you do is just blog, there are still other ways that you can market yourself with your homepage to just make it seem more credible. Another thing, getting rid of ads on your site can be really effective because ads tends to slow down your site a lot and it makes it the loading time a lot slower and also the amount of money that typically bloggers make through ads I don’t think is worth the effect that they have on the aesthetic of your site. I think that there are many more ways to make money such as creating a source of passive income like an e-book or an e-course and selling something that you actually created rather than the ads.

Another thing I see often times is on the sidebar, they can get a little messy and have a lot of widgets and features that aren’t necessary. So, if you have the categories, drop downs and then archive’s drop down and then a popular post drop down which is all tends to be redundant, maybe getting rid of one of those categories are great to have but you don’t need all three.

If you have a bunch of sponsorship buttons or badges that aren’t necessarily promoting you in any way or doing anything for you, getting rid of those perhaps. The main thing you want on your sidebar are a main head shot or a photo of you with a brief bio, your social media icons, a sign up subscription box for your e-mail list or your Feedly accounts, any kind of free offering that your providing or any e-books or source of passive income that you are providing, an ad for that, and then a category’s drop down and that’s really the main features that you should have on your site. Other than that everything should be supporting you in some way. If it’s not then I don’t think that its necessary.

Creating your brand identity

What tips do you have for marketing yourself?

The first thing I always tell myself when I’m marketing myself is doing it in a way that makes it customer based rather than me based. That means that marketing yourself in a way that you really showing that you want to help the customer and the consumer, you are not doing this for yourself you’re doing it for them. I’ll always say note the difference in these two marketing pitches. No one would say, “Buy this e-book from me,” or say “I created this e-book to help you…”

Making it focused on the client and how you created this for them rather than for yourself which is what you ultimately did and marketing yourself in that way will make clients or customers feel a lot more comfortable and a lot more willing to invest in you. It’s just one of those things that you have to just do and trust that you have to do it and not get so caught up in your head and just kind of go through the motions of it.

Is there any last tip you want to share maybe something that you think is an absolute must have for your blog?
If your purpose is to get more followers which tends to be for bloggers, I think the best thing that you should have in your website is some kind of free incentive, free opt in and then marketing that very high up on your homepage. Having a newsletter subscription box with some kind of marketing copy for your free incentive and then having people sign up directly that I think is really important to get more followers and if you are having trouble of thinking something especially if you’re a food blogger you could do a meal plan guide or a grocery list guide even tips for food photography if you want to be speaking to other food bloggers. Just having some kind of one page free PDF, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy.

Tell everyone where they can find you.
You can find me at WhiteBrickDesignStudio.com and that’s where you will be able to navigate all my design services. You can find me in screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-9-36-43-amInstagram too @whitebrickdesignstudio.

Jen is a brand designer and consultant for a passionate soulful entrepreneurs at White Brick Design Studio. When it comes to design, Jen believes that the key to success is infusing her client’s unique vision and style in to every element of the brand.

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