I’m naturally good at certain things.
I’m a great driver. I’m an adequate tribal fusion belly dancer. I can speak English and Spanish pretty well! And I’ve been cutting my own hair for the last few years.
But despite introducing myself no fewer than 10,000 times throughout my life, when it comes down to writing an intro (or an about page!), I… well, I suck.
When it comes to your online presence, branding becomes critical for success. It’s all about finding your niche and then dominating it – you have to put out definitive content on a specific topic. You have to become The go-to resource for whatever it is that you talk about. And you have to do it in your unique style using your unique voice.
You have to brand yourself.
But how does a blogger who can’t even write an about page go about branding himself, his blog, his YouTube channel, and his entire social media presence?
After a six-month struggle (I’m slow on the uptake, okay?), I finally figured it out. I got drunk, I laid in my bed staring at the ceiling agonizing over how stupid I am, and now I can teach you how to brand yourself for online media. You’re welcome.
How to Choose Brand Words
Good branding is based on good brand words. What are brand words? A few (and I mean that seriously – like, 3 maximum) words that sum up everything that you’re about.
You should choose strong words that conjure imagery and imagination.
Don’t know what I’m talking about?
What do you think when you hear “gangster?”
Here’s a few more:
These are words that evoke a feeling, an image, or that have a strong connotation. These are powerful words.
They stand on their own.
Your brand words should have power and meaning for you. You should feel them, almost physically.
My brand words?
Sunshine and poor life choices.
I got them while I was laying tragically in my car outside work waiting to go in and reflecting on a series of bad decisions that I had made the week before. I was trying to figure out how to turn those experiences into blog posts and YouTube videos.
I was taking a selfie. I was smiling. But I felt like a hot mess.
That was when I decided that sunshine and poor life choices described me the best: optimism, happiness, warmth, and friendliness despite not having it all together. That’s me. That’s my persona. That’s the fabric of my being.
Your brand words don’t have to be glamorous, elegant, or proper. You’re allowed to break rules. In fact, you should break rules. Ke$ha got famous (and created some incredible music) describing her style as “dumpster chic.” Many blogs have gained large readership despite being abrasive and harsh. It’s better to stick out (if you have the skill and talent to back it up. And if you don’t, why are you reading a branding guide? Go figure out how not to suck first).
How to Write a Brand Guide
This is the longest process.
This is where you write out, specifically, how you can ensure that all your content conforms to your brand. It means writing specific things you must incorporate. It means committing to responding to your comments if you consider yourself “engaging.”
It means sharing the ugly truth if, like me, you consider yourself a hot mess. It means being raw, being transparent, opening yourself up and embracing that vulnerability. Because people want to make a connection with you.
Know how Ke$ha developed her following? By spreading a powerful message about self-love and respect and kindness. And she’s never said anything negative about other artists. Ever.
If you’re brave with your branding, it will pay off. I connect with a lot of people by sharing who I am openly.
If you’re timid with your branding, you will have a harder time forming that connection, so you’re going to need to find a unique perspective in another way. Take that as a word of caution and encouragement.
Your branding guide doesn’t need to be achingly long, but it does need to be thorough.
My branding guide boils down to a few rules:
- Every post needs to be inspired by a situation from my personal life. I am writing this guide because I finally had a breakthrough and successfully branded myself. My previous post about unfucking your blog archives was inspired when I submitted a post to the Huffington Post and I wanted to make sure I made a good first impression if it led to any visitors.
- I have to respond positively to every comment I receive (or at least a vast majority), because sunshine is warm and friendly and approachable.
- Likewise, I have to spin every negative experience and find an upside to it. When my car got broken into, I chose to write about it and try to create something beautiful.
- On social media, the positivity gets carried over. I have to share others’ content as much as I share my own, because I am a cheerleader through and through.
- My tone is direct, but friendly. Sometimes I’m terse, but never rude, critical, or harsh.
Now you incorporate it into your brand. Everywhere.
Your brand words will inform every aspect that surrounds your content – your graphics, your logo, your tone and use of or refrain from the word fuck – in other words, your brand.
If your branding is happy and bright, make sure your blog design and Instagram theme match that. Make sure your wording and your tone support that. Your brand is something to prove. Everything you do must support your claims.
The internet is the court of public opinion. If you’re not being genuine, people will find out and tear you apart. That is the simple truth.
Now, your assignment: let me know in the comments what your brand words are and what rules you’re going to follow to adhere to your standards. Also, subscribe to this blog so that you get notified every Friday when I publish a new post with more blogging, vlogging, and branding advice.