You hear it all the time. In the blogging world, or any industry really, branding yourself is one of the most important things you need to do to be successful. You establish a brand, and work every day to make sure everything you put out there falls in it. Either you’re “on-brand” or you’re doing something wrong.
Let me start by saying that I am not writing this blog to tell you all the successful ways I have branded myself (obviously if you read the title of this post), or to give you the secrets on how to perfectly brand yourself. I am here to let you know why I as a person have a hard time with branding, some mistakes I’ve made (and still make) while trying to brand my blog, and a few things I have learned that might help you if you know the struggles like I do.
First thing’s first, let me tell you why I think I have such a hard time branding myself. I think it’s pretty simple, I’m just too all over the place. I’m ADD, and as a group, we tend to be inconsistent when it comes to most things in life. I go through phases with food, hobbies, workout routines, habits, and personal style. I’ll love embracing my super preppy southern side for one week, then hate everything in my closet and have my heart set on buying high top wedge sneakers. I also have a bit of a different upbringing. I was born a country girl in Georgia who was raised with interests like hunting, fishing, barrel racing, and golf because of how much I wanted to be like my dad, while I was also raised to be a lady like mom. I was a debutante who wanted to be the epitome of style and grace like Grace Kelly or Kate Middleton, who was also shoveling horse manure after golf practice. Then, when I got older, I moved to Austin for college and embraced my edgy city side. Now, I’m pretty much a hodge podge of conflicting styles.
You might think, “who cares? It’s good to mix it up”. Well, yes, I feel like everyone has a bit of this trait in them, but for someone who is trying to brand themselves as a certain thing, it’s a roadblock. Most of the successful bloggers you think of have a clear message. Whether it be their signature fashion sense, color scheme, or photographic style, you know what to expect from them and they hardly ever stray from that. I wish I could do that, but as hard as I try, I can’t figure out what my signature is because it’s always changing.
So now you’re probably like “boohoo, your life is so hard”, but I’m not writing this blog for sympathy, I promise. I just wanted to open up about this a little because I’m hoping some of you can relate. While I don’t think my signature style is what brands me, I have focused my attention on other ways to set myself apart. So, now, I’m going to go through a few tips I have read about how to brand your blog. Again, I realize I don’t do all of these things perfectly, but it’s what the pros say you should try to do.
It truly is extremely important to brand yourself when it comes to maintaining your blog or business so that you become recognizable. As a blogger, your personal style is something that can set you apart the most. You want people to be browsing online and say “wow that shirt is SO Hilary” so that when they see your pictures on Instagram, even if they don’t particularly like what you’re wearing, they appreciate it because they know it’s your style and that you’re wearing it because you really like it. I have found that there is one blogger who completely nails this, and it’s my insta-friend Jennifer Lake of Style Charade. She has described herself as “always overdressed” because she is almost always dressed to the nines in high-end gorgeous dresses or skirts. You rarely see her without her signature sunglasses and the perfect heels for every outfit. I have found myself on more than one occasion sending her snapchats of clothes I see when online shopping that I think are “SO her” because even though I have never met her in real life, I feel like I can pick out what she would like. How cool is that?? To me, she is the perfect example of branding your personal fashion.
Another way to brand yourself is having a signature photographic style. Whether you’re a big detail shot person who slays with the flat lay photos, or you only post photos that are bright as day and super colorful, it’s another way that people will come to recognize your photo immediately when they’re scrolling on Instagram. One thing about my brand that a friend recently pointed out to me is that in most of my photos you can see my face. It’s something I don’t particularly try to do for any reason, I have just never been a huge sunglasses person and I don’t feel like I’m great at taking detail shots, but it’s become a pretty clear part of my brand and I feel like people can expect to see that when they see my photos. Another one of my insta-friends who come to mind when I think of bloggers with a certain photographic style are Hailey and Paige of the Middle Closet (a sister duo, Paige is the photographer and Hailey is the model). Their photographic style? Perfectly shot street style photos that look like they came straight out of a magazine. You will never see an iPhone photo on their Instagram, and Hailey is always posed perfectly. I can tell automatically when one of their photos pop up, and I usually stop to take a second look because the photography is so beautiful I want to stop and stare. If you’re looking for street style inspo, check them out.
A third way to brand yourself is by having a signature color. This is actually something that I strive for and it’s pretty easy for me because I have a favorite color that won’t change, blue. I wear a lot of it, and I have worked to style my website around the color. One of my goals is to perfect this, but it’s a work in progress! Someone who you might think of who has a signature color is Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam. This girl actually nails all of her branding, but one thing that I think really sets her apart is her signature color of blush pink. It’s all over her website and she has the color in almost all of her photos, whether it be in the background or on her actual clothes. If I see a girly blush pink dress, I can just picture her wearing it in a beautiful garden with a bright smile on her face.
A final way to brand yourself is by being yourself. This might sound simple, but it can be difficult because of all the other expectations that come with branding, like the ones I mentioned. For example, if you have a signature color of yellow and everything you every post has yellow in it, but you found this amazing pink dress and you can’t find anything yellow to pose by, you shouldn’t not buy the dress. Instead, tell your audience why you chose that dress and why you love it. I believe that a million times over people will want to see you in that pink dress and hear about why you chose it over seeing a photo you took of, like, a banana just because it was yellow. That method can (and does) work for some, but in my opinion, people want to see the real you and would rather hear what you really have to say. It humanizes you in a world of the false advertising that we are literally surrounded by. I’m sorry, Jennifer Aniston, I love you, but I don’t believe the reason you look so young and gorgeous is because you use Aveeno lotion. As for me, I will never lie to my audience about something I’m wearing. If something is itchy, I won’t say it’s soft. If my shoes give me blisters, I won’t say they’re comfortable. And most of all, I never try and give anyone a false impression about my life. Yes, bloggers get to do fun things and have a lot of wonderful opportunities, but no one has a perfect life, and I don’t agree with anyone who makes it seem that way.
So, in conclusion, specific branding methods are a great way to set yourself apart, but I think being yourself is the most important thing you can do. The three bloggers that I mentioned not only do a great job with the method of branding that I say they have perfected, I also think that each of them are so successful because they radiate honesty and their true selves, which makes me trust them as people as well as influencers.
Thanks for reading! If you have any branding tips or secrets you think I left out, I’d love to hear them!