Hey there! Our names are, Emma and Melissa and we are the Graphic Designers for Living Well Spending Less®, Elite Blog Academy® and Do It Scared™. We both graduated from Longwood University with a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design with a focus of Brand Identity and Media. Over the past 6 years we have worked on countless projects dealing with branding, logo creation, color schemes, photo editing and much more. So we like to think we know a thing or two when it comes to graphic design. We also understand that hiring a graphic designer or two is not always feasible when you’re first starting out a blog, so we have created these steps to get you started on creating branding for your blog! We hope these steps help you all feel more comfortable with being creative and building your blog’s branding!
Here are 7 steps that will help get you started creating a brand that you love:
STEP 1: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
This first step is CRUCIAL in moving forward with your brand. Knowing your audience is the stepping stone in deciding what you want the overall look and feel of your brand to be. Take time to investigate your audience’s needs and what makes them tick. The more you know about your audience, the better you will be at keeping them engaged with your designs/branding. If you’re not 100% sure what resonates with your audience, we would suggest creating a few styles of graphics to test out what is grabbing their attention. Once you pin point that style, stick with it and keep your branding consistent!
STEP 2: CHOOSE A DESIGN PROGRAM TO USE
While we suggest learning Adobe Design programs such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, we understand these are expensive and can be hard to learn. (it took us 4 years to learn them and we still wouldn’t call ourselves experts with all of the programs that Adobe offers!) We suggest these Adobe programs because they give you the most freedom to do anything you need to make unlike many of the online resources that claim to be “graphic design tools”. We do understand however that it’s much easier to use those online resources if you aren’t comfortable learning the Adobe Design programs so here are a few suggestions and articles with free online graphic design resources:
STEP 3: PICK A COLOR SCHEME
Colors play a very vital role when designing graphics. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are green, purple, orange—which are formed by combining the primary colors. Tertiary colors are created when you mix a primary color with a secondary color, such as yellow-orange or blue-green. Cool colors are blue, purple, and green and warm colors are red, yellow and orange. While this may seem elementary to review, it’s actually very important to consider when deciding what colors to use in your color scheme. We suggest looking into the art of Color Theory as a start to get yourself acquainted with the psychology of colors and what effects colors can have on an audience. You may be surprised how much colors have an effect on people and how much it can influence the decisions of your viewers. Be sure to keep in mind your audience from Step 1 when picking a color scheme.
As a rule of thumb, you typically don’t want more than 4-5 different colors because it can get overwhelming. Instead, choose one or two signature colors, an accent color and a neutral color. Another helpful hint would be to just limit your color scheme to a simple 2-3 colors and use tints/shades of those colors (either darker or lighter versions of the colors) to keep the branding together. This way you can still have a variety of colors to use without it being too overwhelming.
If you’ve ever played around with color on any computer program, you’ve probably seen a module that listed RGB or CMYK colors with some numbers next to the letters.
Ever wondered what those letters mean?
CMYK is used when dealing with printing which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black)
RGB is used for the web which stands for Red, Green, Blue
Once you are ready to establish a color scheme you’ll want to be sure the colors you chose match well with the message you are trying to convey and for your audience.
Here are some helpful sites to play around and see what colors work best together and creating color schemes:
STEP 4: IMPORTANT TYPEFACE LESSONS
A rule of thumb to know is to never put more than 2 typefaces together in one design. It’s also important to know the different styles of typefaces and how they pair together. There are 3 main types of typefaces that are good to know:
The small features on the ends of strokes in some fonts are known as Serifs.
Common Serif Typefaces: Times New Roman, Georgia, Palatino and Garamond
2. Sans Serif
Sans Serif typefaces are the opposite of Serif typefaces, they do not have any extending features on the edges of the letter.
Common Sans Serif Typeface: Arial, Helvetica, Century Gothic and Tahoma
Script typefaces based upon the varied and often fluid stroke created by
Here are some helpful resources for font pairing and about typography:
STEP 5 : FIND (GOOD QUALITY) PHOTOGRAPHY
If hiring a photographer to take your photos for your blog is not something you can afford or feel is necessary at the moment, we would suggest paying for a stock photo site membership. Make sure you’ve vetted out the site before you make a commitment to pay for it. Not all stock photo sites are created equally! You don’t want to buy a membership and find out the quality of images are not good, that they don’t have a great variety or that the style of photographs won’t work for your blog’s style. If paying for stock photos is not completely in your budget yet either, there are many great quality free stock photo sites. These sites will not give you as much variety and freedom as you would have hiring a photographer or buying the stock photo site membership, but they can offer some nice quality images until you are able to invest in better imagery.
Suggestions for paid stock photo sites:
STEP 6: FILE KNOWLEDGE
Knowing the differences between file types and what they are used for is important when it comes to graphics. You wouldn’t want to print something in a file type that is made for online-use only because then the quality of the print out would not be good. Here are the 3 basic file types you would need to know for your blog:
JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group
Common/Best Uses: website images / social media / photo sharing
PNG – Portable Network Graphics
When you see an image “free-floating” on a background, it’s likely to be a PNG. This is because PNG’s are the best file type when it comes to transparency. PNG files are formatted in such a way that the “transparent areas of the PNG will blend and adjust naturally to whatever is behind the image when the background of the page isn’t a solid white or black color.”
Common/Best Uses: website images on a background / product display images / logos
PDF – Portable Document Format
When it comes to the world of business, the PDF is perhaps the most prevalent of all file types. Its combination of versatility and compatibility make it a workhorse of information sharing.
Common/Best Uses: Workbooks / printables / any printed material
Another important thing to keep in mind when it comes to file saving is how to compress images. Compressing images is important because some platforms put a limit on the file size you can upload and also low quality images can come out blurry if their resolution isn’t high enough quality! Before we get into Compression it’s important to know the term Resolution. The basic definition of Resolution is a measure used to describe the sharpness and clarity of an image or picture and is often used as a metric for judging the quality of monitors, printers, digital images and a various other hardware and software technologies. The general rule of thumb to remember is for internet use you want your image resolution to be 72 or above and for printing you want it to be 300 or above. You want a higher resolution for printing because if you don’t have a higher resolution, the images and text will not be crisp and can look blurry! So now that you know a little about resolution we can talk about compression. Compression is just what it sounds like, you take a large file and compress it down to a smaller size. This is important to do for uploading to social media or blogs because a large file can slow down the speed of the page it’s on and can cause many headaches if you’re not aware of the file size!
STEP 7: CREATE A BRAND GUIDE
The last step we would suggest is important for your brand’s consistency. Once you’ve established a color scheme and typefaces you’d like to use in your branding, you should create a brand guide for your blog. Brand guides are just what they sound like, they have all the brand standards in one place for you to keep all your branding consistent. They normally include the logo, colors in your brand, typefaces you use, and anything else you include in your branding. It’s good to keep it as a reference for yourself to stay consistent and if your business ever grows to include a team having a brand guide will help get all your employees on the same page with your brand.
While some of these steps may seem to be elementary, they are still super important when creating a brand and should not be overlooked! Knowing your audience will help move your branding in the right direction because it will connect with the people you’re trying to reach. Doing so will then begin to shape and mold the overall look of your blog. Choosing and learning how to use the right programs will ultimately help ease the process when creating your products and graphics. It’s important to remember that colors are crucial to convey the right mood and feel for your blog and business. Choosing the wrong color could throw off how people view your brand and how they interact with your content. Also, choosing the right typeface goes hand in hand with choosing the right color scheme. You want the fonts you use to properly reflect what you are trying to say. As for photography, the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” really is true. You want to be sure that your content and imagery go together and support what you are trying to convey. Most people don’t spend more than a few seconds looking at the graphic and if your design doesn’t draw them in, then you have lost a potential follower or customer! Understanding how you are saving your work whether it be a blog graphic, a printable download, or an ebook is also imperative. Always keep resolution and compression in mind when uploading images or when printing from a PDF. Finally, creating a brand guide is essential. It is almost like wrapping your brand up in a little bow that has everything you would need to know when referencing back to your blog or business.
Keep in mind that establishing a cohesive brand doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a lot of trial and error and testing to be able to get to a point that you are truly satisfied with. Take each step one at a time and really focus on the end goal of what you are trying to accomplish and say with your brand.