*With FREE Brand Board Template*
In this increasingly competitive world, a brand can be the difference between customers choosing to use you, or not. As a food blogger, you’re up against some pretty stiff competition for readers; there are full-time bloggers who get literally millions of page views per month and churn out new recipes and videos multiple times a day. There’s no way you can keep up with that schedule as a new blogger working on your own. But perhaps your audience isn’t looking for a large, flashy or corporate recipe site. Maybe they prefer something a little more homespun, laid back and, well, personal. But how will they ever know that you fit the bill unless you convey that to them straight away? It’s time to discuss the basics of branding.
What is a brand?
A brand is everything that your blogging world looks and feels like. It encompasses the whole user experience from choosing a recipe on your website to that first bite, and gets you noticed in a sea of competitors. It can be seen as everything that makes you different and, ultimately, is why a reader would choose your blog over another.
Why do I need a brand?
You may think that as a food blogger you don’t actually need a brand, after all, why do you need to convince people to try your recipes – shouldn’t the food speak for itself?
Well yes, that’s partly true. The food is obviously one of the primary reasons why a home cook might choose to visit your website and make your recipes. That’s why I’ve been telling you the importance of taking great photographs.
However, it’s not the only reason.
If you want the public to know you, trust you and ultimately buy from you then you need to create an emotional connection with them that encourages them to read more, subscribe to your updates and check out any offers you have. It’s also much more professional if your work appears consistent and if you are able to constantly push the same message throughout everything you do.
Related: How to Get your Readers to Trust you
What a brand does
An effective brand can clearly communicate this message without you having to put it into words; from the logo at the top of the page to the tone of voice you use when writing, you can convince readers of your authority on a matter while also putting them at ease on your website. You want users to think “hey, I like it here, I think I’ll stick around”. Ultimately, people will use your website if they think that you have the solution to their problem, and you can convince them that you do by being the sole source of information on a subject, and by regularly and consistently asserting your brand as the one they should go to.
How to choose your branding
#1 Know your niche
Your particular niche dictates pretty much everything about your brand, your blog and your recipes. If you don’t know what focus your work will have, then you end up with either too large a focus (trying to be everything to all people) or no focus at all (bouncing between ideas). Either way, it never really gives you time to concentrate on one thing, which means you can’t cover it in as much depth as you would like – and thus get beaten to the post by people who can. I’ve said it before, pick your niche carefully.
#2 Choose your name
The name of your blog is one of the very first things your visitor will notice (that and the look of your website). If you haven’t already picked a name, make sure you go with something memorable, easy to spell, and that fits the style and niche of your blog. Read more about picking a blog name in my article here.
#3 Pick your feel (and check your theme)
This will relate in most part to #1 above: if your niche is home baking then you want your website to feel homely too. You can’t sell the idea of home baking with a modern, industrial website – you need more country-focused theming. Most blog themes can be customised to a huge degree; when you look at doing so, make sure you change anything that doesn’t fit with the feel of your blog (fonts, layout, graphics) for something that does.
#4 Choose your colours
Well-chosen colours can really make a brand. If I mention Coca Cola then you immediately think of red and white; Starbucks and your mind goes to green. Do you want your colours to be vibrant and eye catching? Soft and neutral? Calming and pretty? Dark and professional? Think back to the feel of your site and try to pick colours that match your feel and what you are trying to say.
Food blogs work particularly well with colours chosen from the food world or with barely any colour at all, to make the photographs stand out. Colour theory tells us that there are certain colours that affect our mood (in both a positive and negative way) and also certain colours that can make us hungry or turn us off food all together! You want your audience to be drooling when they browse your site so pick very carefully. The Kitchn compiled a great list all about how colour choice can influence our appetites (did you know blue is an appetite suppressant?!). Worth a look for any food blogger.
As well as thinking about the feel of your website, it’s important to choose colours that complement each other. For this, and loads of inspiration, you can use one of the colour-wheel tools to select your colours (this is a great one), and take a look at this article by Wix which goes into more detail about colour branding a website. It’s a bit of a trial-and-error game to start with and it’s a big decision as you should continue your colours across all of your branding, social media, downloads, communication and so on. So take your time to do your research and development properly.
#5 Design a logo
If budget permits, then nothing beats the skills of a trained designer. A good designer will talk to you about your vision for your brand and will create a logo that conveys this without the need for further explanation.
If not, and many new bloggers do choose to go this way, you need to use one of the many software programmes available to design your own. I like Canva for making graphics; they have a great free package which is perfectly suitable for beginners. Then, when you get more serious, you can upgrade to the paid package for further tools.
The simplest kind of logos are those that just use text – perhaps with a single word highlighted in a different font or colour:
When you get the hang of this, you can also bring in a small picture which can be used as the icon on your website:
and think about maybe playing around with the initials of your site (or a shortened version) to provide profile pictures for social media and so on:
#6 Extend your brand to the rest of your blog
A brand is not just as simple as a beautiful logo. There are many other opportunities for you to share your message with the world, including:
- the tone of voice you use when writing. Is it direct? personal? chatty? formal?
- the style of your photographs. Are they dark and moody? Light and airy? Bright and colourful?
- your graphics. How do you label your blog posts? Do you stamp your photographs with your logo?
- your fonts. Some fonts scream “law firm” while others say “child-friendly”. Make sure yours says the right thing for you.
#7 Other ways to convey your message
A “tagline” is the short slogan often associated with a brand. For example, Tesco remarks: “every little helps” as an attempt to convince you, the customer, that they place importance on all the little things that improve a customer’s experience. A tagline can be a great way to further explain your message; this site you are reading now is called Food Blogging Collective which immediately tells you that it’s about food blogging and is written by a group of people. The tagline, however, goes one further and explains “the blog written for food bloggers, by food bloggers”. Now, as a reader, you are in no doubt as to whether the content of this site will be applicable to you or not.
The way that you communicate directly with your audience should also be consistent with your brand voice. There is no point in being chatty and informal in your blog posts if you are going to reply to comments and messages with a formal, business tone. Readers want to know that they are talking to you – not some robot hired to do the job for you.
I keep going on about this word: consistent (in fact, I’ve used a form of it 5 times in the course of this article!) It is vital that all of your brand’s messages – from your graphics to your communication and your website – are putting out the same message, all of the time.
For this, it is helpful to create a brand board – either formally or informally – that you can refer back to as you go about your blogging business. It is usual for designers to encourage you to put certain details down on paper, e.g. the exact RGB and hex codes of your colours, and to store files of all your logos in various formats and colour combinations.
My own brand board
Please note that our brand has recently been updated but this still provides you with a great example of how you can create a cohesive brand.
Grab yourself a copy of my Brand-Board Template right here!
However, it is also helpful as a food blogger to keep a note of how you write your recipes e.g “2 spring onions, finely chopped” or “two spring onions – finely chopped”; ” 1x 400g tin” or “a 400g tin”. Just keep a piece of paper by your desk (or wherever you blog) and refer back to it regularly to check you are always following the same protocol.
Ask yourself these questions to get started
Try answering the following questions about your food blog to help you form your brand identity. I’ve put some simple answers in as an example:
How am I different to others in my field?
Food Blogging Collective is the ONLY blog written for food bloggers, by food bloggers. We specialise in support for people setting up food blogs, rather than just blogs in general. This means that we are able to tailor each of the articles to our readers.
What solution can I offer to my readers?
The posts are written from personal experience and are applicable directly to other food bloggers. We have been there, done that, and can help you do the same.
What emotion do I want to convey to visitors to my site?
We want you to trust us as a voice of authority on all matters related to writing a food blog; because we are a collective, we can use different writers for each area of expertise, ensuring that you get only the very best advice.
What colours am I naturally drawn to?
Colours from the food world – reds/pinks and greens. The site should look food-related but also professional.
Now that you have learned about the basics of branding, it’s time to think about creating your own. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and jot down the answers to the questions above. Flick through a magazine and rip out any pictures that you are drawn to. Think about the colours and styles that you have chosen. Finally, write down three words that you want your brand to portray.
When you’re ready, start putting colours together and choose some software for your logo design. Congratulations! You’ve created a brand.
What three words would you use to describe your brand?