Monday, 9 November 2015

How Creating a Cohesive Design Kickstarted My Brand

When I first started out blogging, I wasn't interested in creating a 'brand'. Bah, I didn't even know what brand meant in terms of blogging, to me, a brand was the name of a company that sold or provided a product or service, such as Nike, Apple, Unilever or The Blue Cross. As far as I was concerned, I was just blogging, I didn't need a brand, right?


It matters not that you're just blogging, creating a solid brand is super important, and on the web, even more so. You may start out blogging for t' lolz and to kill poor old time, but give it time and you're likely to want to grow. You're likely to want to break out and get more pageviews, to ramp up those statistics and make all that effort, all that time, all that busting your ass off worth it, and when the world tells you a brand will help make that happen, it's right.

Related: Why Branding Matters
Related: I Care About Numbers, Is That a Bad Thing?

"But Amanda! I don't know where to start? Creating a 'brand' sounds scary, and expensive!"

You're right, creating a brand does sound scary, and it does sound a little expensive too, but there is a nice little nifty trick that can get you well on your way to a solid brand that looks the part and doesn't cost a bomb, unless you want to spend a few pennies, in which case, go for it. The trick?

A cohesive design can help create a solid brand

There is a super big difference between web design and brand design, but the two do overlap in a few areas, and one of those areas is your overall blog design. It's important to remember that web design focuses on the layout of your blog and the elements in it, and how those elements work, while brand design is all about the, you guessed, the design in terms of visuals, such as colours, fonts, icons and more. If your blog were a movie, your web design would be where you want the actors and props to be in a scene and what you want them to do, where-as your brand design would be what you want the actors and props to look like.

"I'm with you so far Amanda, but how does this all relate? Can we get to how a cohesive design helped you gain a solid brand, and how it could help me too?"

Of course, as you wish.

For some people, a brand is a logo. For others, it's a colour scheme. In some rarer cases, it's a solid, memorable name. The best brand is when all three of these elements come together, and for bloggers, that's usually where a good, cohesive design can make a huge impact. Let's take Nellie and Co. as an example.

Nellie and Co. does, and will always go under the name Nellie and Co.
Nellie and Co. does, and will always use the same elephant within it's design.
Nellie and Co. does, and will always use shades of greys as it's primary colour.

When I designed Nellie and Co. I didn't sit down and plan what my brand would be like. If I'm entirely honest, I didn't really plan much of anything. I went into my design process with three things in mind:
  • I wanted to use an elephant as my logo,
  • I wanted to use grey as my primary colour, and
  • I wanted to be clever with my blog element :hover actions

From those three goals, I created the design, on and off the blog, you see today.

I use the elephant in my logo as tangible mental image, going as far as creating an additional logo specifically for graphics and my favicon (as seen in your tabs up top). I continued to use grey (against all the advice I was given by friends and family) as my primary colour, incorporating 4 different shades into the design, in-keeping with the feminine, practical and natural style I was trying to achieve, and I showed off my CSS skills with my :hover actions, something I still to this day love about my design.

Throw five secondary colours into the mix, a collection of awesome icons through Flaticon, simple photography taken by yours truly and awesome graphics created through Picmonkey and Canva, and I have a cohesive blog design that works wonders for me, for my followers, and my brand.

"I'm still not quite getting how your design affects your brand Amanda.."

Let's take a look at part of one wonderful comment I received from the lovely Erika of;
Also, in visiting your blog, I wanted to tell you how much I like your branding! You have such beautiful blog graphics (and that elephant is my fave, I must say). :)

Can we take a moment to appreciate that Erika actually visited Nellie and Co. for a second please?

Related: 21 Day Brand Impressions Detox and my review of the course here!

Okay, now we've done that, take a look at what Erika actually said. She used the word 'branding'. She didn't compliment me on my design, or on any of the little elements behind the overall workings of my blog, she complimented my brand. Looking at this comment made me realise one really big thing.

I never set out to create a 'brand', I set out to create a design in which every element, every action, every little detail complimented another, and as one, looked, worked, and felt lovely to be experiencing. I created a cohesive design, and in turn, accidently created a some of my brand, specifically the design element, with it.

I spent so much time, poured so much effort into making sure everything in my blog and related to it worked as one. I made sure that my graphics looked great when paired with my content, but were practical and carried on my design through social media and marketing. Without thinking about it, my brand was born when I made sure my design was as cohesive and in tune as it could be.

Related: 8 Reasons Your Blog Needs a Cohesive, Well Designed Brand

It's a wonderful feeling to know that, when somebody see's my graphics on social media, they could, or will recognise them as part of Nellie and Co's brand. It's so overwhelming to think that people will see my colour scheme, remember my blog name, and fall in love with my elephant and see so much more than just a blog, and it's that thought, along with my new 'brand' that inspires me to keep on growing.

My design helped kickstart my brand, and my brand is helping me kickstart a name for myself, and who knows where that name could take me. It could take me to new heights, or it might just give me further to fall, but wherever my blog takes me, it's great to know I have a solid brand coming on an elephant ride with me.

Does Your Blog Have a 'Brand', and If Not, Why Not?


  1. Branding is definitely an important part of your blog, what I like about your blog is that it looks different to the rest, and that it's recognisable throughout the interwebs. I'm so glad you love it Amanda and you feel that it's You, because ultimately, that's what it's about!

    1. I think that was always my intention - to not look the same or go the same route as other people have, it's great to know it's worked, you know? I couldn't love my blog more, I'm really pleased, so thank you! :)

  2. AHHH THIS IS SO TRUE AND WONDERFUL. I know tons of bloggers who I recognise instantly because of their design brand. (*glances above to Jeann who is also a perfect example of this* hehe) But me? Omg, I am shameful. I've been blogging for 4 years and you'd THINK I would be on top of this part, right? Grrr. I update my design regularly and it's always radically different. *sigh* Like last time it was hand drawn zentangles, and this time it's arrows?!? I HAVE GOT NO DIRECTION HERE. I'd like to think I'll stick to my arrows...but we'll see. >_> I think I'm starting to brand myself a little with my photography though. So hopefully that works a bit for me. x)

    1. As do I Cait, I recognise a lot of bloggers now on their design, and that's a great use of branding, although it's not the only use. I don't consider your design your brand, I think your voice and how you carry yourself and weave humour into everything is how people recognise you, and that's awesome, so don't feel down! :D

  3. I agree that building a brand goes hand in hand with building a blog, whether it's a run as a business or not. I think just having something that can people see and instantly think of you - like your elephant :) - is important. I've started (sort of) branding my blog images - but I'm still working on making the rest of my blog work around them!
    Another awesome post!

    1. Thanks Harvey, my little elephant is so important to me, she's like my best blogging buddy. I like your new graphics, I think they all compliment each other because of your colour scheme, so stick with it! :D