Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Branding Your Blog: Abby Madison of Home Sweet Townhome

We're so excited to have Abby of Sweet Home Townhome sharing her process of her most recent blog rebrand with us today! Rebranding can be a big undertaking, but also a huge step in the right direction when it comes to creating your own unique space online. We love what Abby's done, so we wanted to share her own process with all of you!

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 When I began my blog last June, it was purely a fun side project. I wasn't sure how long it would last, since the premise of it was to turn our outdated rental into a cozy, attractive home. But it's survived the worst of my procrastination, and I've found my blogging groove as time went on. However, the branding itself was all over the place. There wasn't a solid focus, which made the designer in me cringe. I finally made myself take the time to sit down and figure out what Home Sweet Townhome was all about. This process was so important in narrowing down the branding for my blog, and also for taking that next step in my blog's growth. Below is the process I recommend working through when you're at that point with your own blog (or possibly considering a rebrand.)


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Pictured above are a few different logos explorations I went through when working through the process of branding my blog. 

1. Research: Ask yourself... What is my blog all about, and does it need a stronger focus? Who is my audience (and or desired audience)? How do I want people to feel when they're reading my content (spiritual, happy, informed, inspired, etc)? Where do I want this blog to go in the future? What are other similar blogs doing with their branding that's successful or not working, and how can I set myself apart from them? -- Base every design decision on this research so you have a reason behind every choice you make. You'll thank yourself later when you're tempted to sway in a sea of trends. 
  
2. Edit: I compiled tons of images on a private board on Pinterest that reflected where I wanted my branding to be. I then edited that down to a mood board to inspire my next step. I looked at everything from logo designs to blog layouts to vintage book covers, and each offered something unique to my inspiration. 
  
3. Logo: If you aren't ready financially to hire a designer to create a logo for you, then remember these basic rules about logos. Logos are the singular mark of your brand. They should be simple but bold, and also flexible for a wide variety of situations. I designed my own logo with the intention of it being a recognizable mark on its own, sans wording. If you're a reader of my blog, you'll hopefully recognize the townhome graphic on its own after only a few visits because it's one of a kind. If you do know it, I know I'm doing something right in my branding. Logos should also be unique for that very reason. In a nutshell, well-designed logos are simple, bold, flexible, and memorable. It's a hard mark to hit, and a lot of brands go through logo refreshes over time, myself included! 
  
4. Color: In my own blog, the colors reside mostly in the photos. However, I wanted to add more graphic elements to my posts, and I needed a strict color guide to stick to. I chose light pastels because they show up often in my own home, and they're neutral enough that I can use them in a variety of situations. I don't want anything competing with the photos on my blog, so the colors needed to be both complimentary and quiet. Colors make a big impact on how people feel when they visit your blog. This article on color theory might give you some helpful insight there if you're interested! 

 5. Layout & Graphic Elements: I've been really happy with the layout I've been using recently. It's clean, and focuses the eye on the photography. Graphic elements, like the lamp icon in the final graphic of this post, will mostly peek through in my marketing materials and blog posts, while the layout leaves plenty of white space. Leaving things open right now also allows me a little wiggle room in the future should I decide to add to the sidebar. 

 6. Consistency: Make sure to keep your visuals consistent outside of your blog on every marketing material, social media platform, and ad. As tempting as it may be to experiment outside of the branding guide you've created, resist. This is so so so important. I know I've personally struggled in the past with wanting to completely revamp my entire blog after seeing another beautifully branded blog. This is exactly why I created the branding guide for HSTH. I needed something to hold me accountable to the informed decisions I've made about my blog. If eventually you feel an itch to rebrand, refer to the research you did in Step 1. Feelings on colors and styles may change, but if they're built on core decisions you've made for your blog's brand (that probably won't change), you'll think twice before jumping ship.



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What I've come to realize is that branding a blog is like having a dinner party. The blog layout is like your kitchen table. It can come in a variety of different sizes, colors, styles, etc. and when you choose that table you'll need to think about the people who dine there, the food you place on it, and the table settings you'll put together. Choose a handcrafted farmhouse table with Indian food, pink polka-dot napkins and gold glittered plates, and people will be so very confused... And as a result, they won't know what to expect for the next meal. 

At the end of the day, you want your brand to be the best, most complete experience of dining at that table. The food (your content), the table setting (design elements), and the table itself (layout) are all what make up the dinner, or... your brand. And most importantly, you'll gather a more focused community to the table as a result of a complete dining experience. Finally, remember that every detail matters, and consistency is key. The blogs that I love are consistent in their branding, and it makes me want to visit again and again. This is the goal of building your brand to begin with, of course!

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I'm really pleased with the guide I've created for Home Sweet Townhome. My hope is that I can turn to it for inspiration and guidance to stay consistent with the brand I'm trying to build. 

Interested in info or rebranding your own site? Reach out to Abby at abby@homesweettownhome.com!

3 comments:

  1. This is such great information and definitely something I needed to hear. My brand isn't there yet and I've got my work cut out for me, but I'm ready to start brainstorming!

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    1. I'm there too, lady! Would you want to have a brainstorming Skype session? I am always looking for new ideas.

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