Wondering how to achieve long-term branding success with quality content? We will give you some suggestions that might answer the question: how to make good branding one of the goals of your content strategy.
A strong brand is built by including its identity and values in every piece of marketing and external communication to its target audience. Content marketing is no exception: even blog posts can contain your visual brand identity and share your brand story to a vast number of online readers.
In marketing and advertising, you are well aware of the effect of branding and how helpful it is to include the brand identity in every ad, packaging and PR venture (and much more than that). But in the digital world, your website is where it all happens. It is the touchpoint of every step of the buying journey, and any type of content, blogs included, needs to remind website visitors of the brand and its unique personality.
The blog section is possibly going to be the biggest lead magnet that brings people to your website, and if you don’t use the opportunity to make a first impression and help readers memorize the brand they discovered by accident, you are missing out on many potential new customers.
If you are doubting the importance of visuals in content marketing, here are some stats to tell you otherwise:
- People process visuals 60.000 times faster than text and remember 80% of what they see compared to 20% of what they read (Hubspot)
- The share rate for articles with an image for every 75-100 words is 200% (Finances Online)
- An impressive 95% of B2B consumers say content marketing impacts their purchase decision (Visme).
So, if people notice visuals so much, and value content marketing to the point that it might swing them into making a purchase, why waste those visuals? Why not infuse your brand subtly in them and make your blog a brand of its own?
If you are not sure how you can improve your brand consistency through simple blogging, here are a few ideas to help you out that you should include in your branding strategy.
Create an art direction for your blog
You might think that a blog doesn’t need an art direction and that is more important when it comes to social media posts, but an inconsistent aesthetic can be a huge pain point for the success of your blog section.
Consistent graphics and colors will ensure your brand is infused in every blog entry, but it will also help guide the readers into remembering well whose blog it is immediately.
Art direction on the SEMRush blog
Here are some steps that will help you create a good art direction.
Create a buyer persona
As with any other thing in marketing, you need to base the look of your blog articles on your target audience. Who comprises the customer base that you are trying to reach with your articles? Are they likely to understand the visuals and respond to their look? Are they responding better to photos, infographics, or perhaps a video?
Basing all your communication on an ideal buyer persona and market analysis to know their habits, values and even slang can help you greatly in creating content for your intended audience. The same goes for blogs.
Not only can you easily pinpoint the brand voice and way to speak easily to your target audience, but you can also learn how to best visually communicate with them and improve your storytelling with quality graphics.
Follow your brand guidelines
Even if it’s not as visible as product packaging or display advertisements, your blog articles too should be consistent with your brand. This will aid in brand recognition and the formation of a strong brand image in the eyes of your customers.
Guidelines for your brand including tone of voice, as well as the usage of symbols, images, colors, and fonts, will all be defined in your brand guide and included in the blog.
Make sure your articles utilize the brand’s colors and fonts when it comes to design. If you’re going to use a CMS template, this is very crucial. If a blog template does not correlate with your brand identity, you should not use it without first modifying it.
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Define the technical aspects
Different sizes on covers on the main blog page, pixelated low-quality images in the articles and different widths of the images within the body of the text are only some of the problems that can make your blog look unprofessional and inconsistent.
Work out the sizes and quality of the pictures, the fonts that you are going to use and correlate with your brand and similar small details that can hurt your brand awareness.
Compile inspiration and write down the art direction
The good thing about the Internet is that you can always look for endless inspiration and still end up with an idea or iteration that will look unique and fitting for your brand personality.
Do some research on blogs both within and outside of your industry, and see how they handle the look of their blog. How do they incorporate branding elements in their written content?
Take a look at how super-famous and successful blogs do this as well. Finally, the opinions of the online community of marketing professionals can help you see some small tricks that will take your blog to the next level.
Use your brand colors in custom graphics
When you create a brand identity, you will most likely decide on two or three main colors, as well as a handful of secondary colors to use in all your branding assets and marketing efforts.
These colors can also serve as a basis for your infographics, illustrations or custom iterations on images you use in your blog articles.
Here is an example of the main blog page of ManyPixels. You can see that all the blog covers are designed in the same color scheme, that is, not by mistake, also included in the website, logo, landing pages and ads.
Of course, making a blog cover from scratch is tedious work, and can sometimes prolong the content production process. But there is a solution to this too. You can take a simple stock photo and improve it by adding text in your brand’s fonts and colors, or symbols and shapes that are related to your visual system.
The same goes for infographics. In visuals that need to encapsulate and relay a lot of data well so that the recipient immediately knows what they are reading about, you need more than one color to distinguish different elements. Why not use your own color palette then?
Here’s another example by ManyPixels, in which the brand colors are again used in a pie chart.
Finally, you can use your brand colors in custom illustrations.
Illustrations are very often used in website design as well as knowledge bases, but sometimes they can be a fun and attention-grabbing visual in blog articles as well.
This kind of graphic is, granted, a lot more detailed and harder to produce quickly, but luckily there are illustration libraries that let you customize your graphics and use the exact color and shade you need.
This way, you can break the monotony of large pieces of text and add a visual supporting element to the storytelling with a fun and well-designed visual.
Remind readers of your value propositions in the articles
In order to build trust towards your brand, readers need to be reminded of the values that distinguish your company from competitors and that serve as an anchor for what you do. Let them learn organically why, for example, letting an expert fix their washing machine is better than reading about DIY-ing it for half an hour.
For example, I often write about cheap and DIY graphic design solutions, even though the company I work at offers on-demand graphic design. You cannot force readers to become your customers, but you can tell them the difference between using your service and the other alternatives.
This doesn’t mean that you should treat your content as another platform for advertising and make articles obnoxiously promotional.
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On the contrary, you can subtly include some of your products and services in the suggested solutions that you are writing about, as well as use a consistent tone of voice.
For example, if your brand’s values include approachability and friendliness, use the first-person perspective in writing your blog articles. Don’t talk down to the reader, and make them feel like they are talking to a peer sitting on the other side of the table, instead of being schooled by an expert.
On the other hand, if you pride yourself on being a respected and trustworthy expert in the field, don’t tone down the language. Sometimes complex terms and harder-to-understand structures of writing make more sense for niche topics that only a handful of people are experts at.
Customize the pop-ups
If you aren’t using lead magnets and pop-ups in your content marketing, you are probably wasting all the potential search engine optimization brings you.
Any single reader that lands on your blog is potentially a lead if they subscribe to your blog newsletter, or download an ebook or other lead magnet from your website.
So, needless to say, you should implement pop-ups and buttons in your blog. And they should as well be branded according to your brand guidelines.
Incorporating custom pop-ups, forms and buttons can take a little more knowledge and time, and if you are using a content management system, you probably have some templates you can use.
Make sure to infuse the brand colors, logo and brand marks in them too. Even Hubspot’s blog, the Bible of marketers, has its lead magnet forms and elements customized in the coral-red color used in its logo. You can take it as a case study in good blog branding.
Put a face to the story
In general, people respond better to storytelling if it comes to a recognizable face and name, not just a digital entity that you cannot hold accountable for whatever they write. This is one of the main elements that make a blog credible: seeing a name and a short description about the writer, as well as how they are relevant to the subject matter and why their opinion matters.
So, needless to say, make sure you include an author and their bio in your content marketing.
However, if your company is tightly knit to your personal brand, you might need to think about using your persona as the main narrator in all your blog entries or videos. Opinion makers and thought leaders often put themselves at the center of their content marketing.
Some notable examples are Neil Patel and Gary Vaynerchuk. These industry leaders in digital marketing not only use their names for the domain of the blog itself, but they also use their faces in graphics and promotional ads.
Why? Because as people, we prefer to listen to someone rather than something. It is basic psychology that increases credibility.
Today, content marketing also includes video. Are you or your content team comfortable with cameras? Why not film tutorials and quick explanation videos that are relevant to your company and will attract viewers? Using one expert to walk them through will also increase the chance of them following through and keep watching.
Although content marketing is one of the most valuable marketing strategies and can bring hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers to your company website, it is often foreseen as a front that doesn’t need special treatment when it comes to branding.
However, with simple and often affordable tricks, you can customize your blog articles, and hone the full power of your content marketing and help readers memorize your brand well and quickly.