Sweet Tea's Branding Guide: Blog Images
We've been spending some time over the past week working on our branding and there are a few more pieces of the branding puzzle to cover before we're finished. We started by defining our brand, then talked about choosing the right colors and fonts for your brand.
Now it's time to work on creating branded images for your blog and social media. Your images are super important. They not only explain your blog posts or social media message to viewers, but they should instantly be brand recognizable.
We're going to explore a few different blogs in various niches today so you can get some ideas to incorporate into your own branding, plus I'll show you a simple technique I use in Picmonkey to create my own branded blog and social media images.
In an effort to better explain branded imagery for your blog and social media, I want to break down this discussion into two main blog types: business blogs and non-business blogs.
Business blogs are blogs like Sweet Tea, LLC, that share tips, tricks, and information. We primarily use stock photos or our own stylized imagery, and typically our main blog post image contains a good bit of text.
Non-business blogs are everything else - DIY, craft, home decor, fashion, food, etc. Your main blog images will be the staged and stylized finished product of whatever you are sharing in your blog post. It's your photo, and that thing you are photographing is the thing you're talking about, so you don't need much or any text to explain it.
Now obviously there are some blogs that don't neatly fall into either category, but for the purposes of our discussion today, this is the easiest way to tackle the subject of branded blog images.
NON-BUSINESS BLOG IMAGES
Branding for non-business blog images can be a bit simpler in some ways than business blogs because your project is the focal point of your main image. You don't really need much more than perhaps the post title and your watermark.
However, your job can also be a bit more difficult than business blogs because you want to create a branded aesthetic to your images. You essentially want to create a style that is unique to your brand.
Let's look at a few examples and talk about what they are doing well:
THOUGHTS FROM ALICE
Thoughts from Alice is one of those blogs that I stumbled upon a few years back and have followed loyally ever since. Everything she creates, whether it's a craft or a room makeover, is dreamy and has a vintage and slight boho feel to it. Her images reflect that very well. Rather than bold and bright colors, she uses muted tones, and even edits her images to give them an older look.
What Works: A cohesive look and feel that comes from all of her blog photos being edited very similarly.
PLACE OF MY TASTE
Aniko from Place of My Taste is a talented watercolor artist, so you'll see a lot of her art on her blog and in her imagery. She also has a unique style that showcases bright and bold color combinations paired with feminine touches like lace and florals.
What Works: Beautiful staging and excellent use of bright color.
Damn Delicious makes me hungry, which is the point because she's a food blogger. Her images on Pinterest stand out because (A) she knows how to photograph her food so that it looks appetizing and (B) she knows how to brand her images so they are unmistakably hers. This is also an excellent example of the fact that you don't need to limit your Pinterest images to one single image. Sometimes collages work well.
What Works: The food is the primary focus, while a simple block of white text on a single colored background tells you exactly what you're going to be eating for dinner tonight.
- Create an editing workflow for all of your images in order for them to have a cohesive and branded look & feel.
- Take the time to stage your photos.
- Let your project or recipe be the main attraction, but leave room to add the post title and your watermark for Pinterest.
- Create consistency in the types of projects you create. Your signature style will become your brand.
A lot of business bloggers utilize stock photography for their blog posts, whether they shoot the images themselves or gather them from various stock photography sites. But not all stock photography is the same, and you shouldn't just throw a blog post title onto any photo and call it "branded".
For example, here on Sweet Tea, LLC, I have a very clean look on my blog. I'm very selective of the stock photos I use for my blog images to be sure they are consistent with the overall aesthetic of my blog.
I like stock photos that have more white than any other color. And if there is color, I try to choose blues, yellows and greys so they coordinate with my brand's color palette.
All of my images have an overlay with text that tells you the post title and a description of the post, in addition to my watermark at the bottom. If you see these images on Pinterest, you know right away where they came from.
Let's look at a few other business bloggers with branded imagery:
THINK CREATIVE COLLECTIVE
The girls at Think Creative Collective are masters of the flat lay and incorporate that and their love of color into their very branded blog images. Between the font choices, the flat lays, and the colors, there is never any doubt that these images belong to Abagail and Emylee.
Is there really anything Regina of byRegina.comcan't do? Her branding is on point in every single image you see. Regina loves to use stock images with people in them, which is kind of rare for business bloggers but somehow it works. But her overlay with text is what truly makes her images stand out.
One thing I love about XO Sarah is that she keeps it simple. Most blog post images have a dark overlay with white text, while her recurring Fix-It Friday post is pink with white text. Both post title images are fully branded and easily recognizable, while being different enough that you recognize the pink image as a feature.
- Stock images are perfectly fine and very valuable, but make sure they fit your overall brand aesthetic.
- Overlays are everything.
- Be consistent with your fonts and colors.
- Text works well for these types of blog post images.
Hopefully these visual aids will help you determine how you want your blog post images to look so they represent your brand. Don't be afraid to create a few mock-ups and share them with blog buddies or in a Facebook group you trust to get honest feedback.
HOW TO CREATE AN OVERLAY IN PICMONKEY
I promised to show you a simple technique I used in Picmonkey to create all of my branded images. First, you need to know the size of your blog images. For my blog, I create two main images: one for Pinterest that is 800x1200 and my featured image which is 775x450.
You'll start in Picmonkey by hovering over Design and choosing "Custom", then setting your dimensions. You'll have a white image in Picmonkey like this:
Next, you'll click on "Canvas Color" and check the box to make it transparent:
Now you create your overlay. You can do a basic rectangle like I did, or any design or shape you want. This overlay will essentially be the part of your blog post image that will include the text for your post title.
Click on the butterfly in the menu to the far right and choose "Geometric" to create overlay shapes.
To get your overlay centered, use the grid as a guide. When you're satisfied with your overlay, save it as a PNG file.
Now, every time you create a blog post image, you'll simply drag this overlay over the top of your image, like this:
Add your image to Picmonkey and size it accordingly. Then head to the overlay menu (the butterfly) and click to add your own:
Select the overlay you just created and drag the corners to match your image. You can change the transparency so you're able to see the image behind it just slightly.
Then just add your text, and you end up with something like this:
There you have it! Hopefully your head is buzzing with ideas for your own blog images.
If you missed any of the other posts in this series, click the images below:
YOUR TURN: What are your branding struggles?