Easy branding tricks and hacks to quickly bring your content creation level from apprentice to master.
What’s in a brand?
Without branding, nobody knows what to expect from you or your company. They don’t know your product, commitment, style, professionalism, laid-back nature – they literally have no readily available information about you.
Branding defines all that, allowing a customer to instantly understand a tailored message about you. It allows them to judge whether your company and product is right for them, without having to do much additional research. It hooks them in and gets them interested.
The most important thing about branding is that it helps identify your company. It allows a customer to recognize your company without even seeing a name or product. If you just see a green mermaid or circle, for instance, your brain automatically thinks of “Starbucks”. With just a line you can think of “Nike”, and with Santa Clause we immediately go to Coca-Cola.
The best brands create that sense of association, drawing people’s minds into thinking about them without even the subject coming up. And the more a person dotes on your brand in other spheres, the more they’ll think about it when seeking to fulfill the need your brand can solve in the future.
Marketing guru Seth Godin points out: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a customer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” A successful brand must combine all these things to influence the decision of the customer. It doesn’t have to be a sneaky psychological foray, you can do this through being honest and without any cunning trickery.
As a YouTuber, podcaster, or other content creator, you have to keep the idea of your brand in mind. At the end of the day, you want people to choose your channel or podcast, to spend their twenty to forty minutes of downtime enjoying your content. That means they have to know your content, and they have to receive the message upfront that your content is a good fit for them.
You do this with branding.
How to build a brand
When thinking about your podcast or YouTube channel, think about your mission. What are you trying to do? Are you trying to relate a message, to educate, to entertain? Just “to make money” or to “get followers” isn’t good enough. Everybody wants those things and it doesn’t help you connect with people. You need to be specific and think of the needs or gaps that you want to fill for your audience. When you think of a good mission, be sure to print it out and slap it on your wall. Everything should revolve around this.
Know your audience
Who are your customers? Who are you trying to reach? Your brand needs to communicate your values to your target audience. You need to define who you think is going to enjoy your channel or use your product and then tailor your image towards that. I don’t mean you should change who you are, but understand the messaging that your audience responds to and tap into it.
If you’ve got a Beauty Channel, then your brand is going to be catered towards people who use beauty products. So what specific kind of people use the ones and styles your marketing? It’s good to go even a step further and speak to a niche: are you specifically talking to teenage girls or to drag queens? There are sets of advantages to speaking to only a niche audience versus a broader audience, but that also comes with a set of disadvantages, which is something you need to consider. Of course, this depends a lot on your product and mission as well.
The logo is one of the most important aspects of your brand. It’s your face, your calling card, your designation. Just as the military uses insignia to define rank and honors, many businesses use logos to define their market and sensibility. Nike uses a swoosh because it denotes speed, Starbucks uses a siren (you thought that was a mermaid?) because its coffee is irresistible. We use a soundwave because we deal in music. So think of your mission or something clever about your product, and let your ideas flow from there.
Use your logo on your letterhead, on your emails, your websites, stickers, t-shirts, everywhere. You want to achieve what the artist Prince did – be recognizable just as a symbol rather than having to type your name. YouTubers often use their brand logo as their avatar, sometimes they use their face and put their brand logo only as an imprint on their content (like Lily Singh below).
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have a reason for it. Is your brand selling a personality or a product or service? Is it a team of people, or is it represented by a singular entity?
Some YouTubers with great logos:
A coin, a big R on one side and a raptor on the other.
An “S” watermark suggestive of Superwoman on the bottom right of all her videos.
Editing is Everything
A white silhouette on a black field. As an aside, I really love this intro as it’s not just great branding, but also great storytelling, where Dani Venen has other people introduce her and talk about how awesome she is. You see this tactic often in novels and movies, not so often on YouTube, which is why it’s wonderful.
In branding, the color scheme goes hand-in-hand with your logo. In fact, it’s even a part of your logo. Every color in your logo needs to be intentional and well-chosen. Once it’s on your logo, you’re pretty much stuck with this color in everything you do. All your materials should in some way fit the color scheme. The biggest advantage of doing this is so that your customer knows they’re still with you and hasn’t clicked away or somehow stumbled onto someone else’s content.
You should choose one brand color, and one or two complimentary colors. The complimentary colors don’t have to be used, it’s just an additional resource to have in the future. Make sure these colors compliment each other and have strong contrast. You can then use these colors in a variety of ways, sometimes all of them, sometimes just two, sometimes you can have only the complimentary colors and not your main color.
If you even want to go one step further, you can design a LUT or filter so that even your images and videos carry your color scheme forward. You see this most often on Instagram, but even YouTube editors are known to make minor changes to their LUTs to fit with their brand image.
Some YouTubers that are handling their colors quite boldly:
Notice Neil’s thumbnail keeps his video true to the color scheme. And then have a look at his transitions, which all maintain the scheme as well.
Notice the repetitive orange colors as well as an orange shaded filter throughout the video, all in keeping with their scheme. All their thumbnails also feature this scheme.
Music and sound
Music and sound can be almost as vital to branding as the color scheme or logo. It gives a nice bit of auditory stimulation, helping to set your viewer or listener in the right mood and helps prepare them for what kind of content is coming. If you’ve got a news-style show, you might want a hard-hitting fanfare like we have on our News Flash album, or if you’ve got a podcast talk show, you might use a classy jazz track like from our Home Cooking album. The point is to choose a theme that fits your show, your message, and your audience.
As your intro should only be about 10 seconds, you should set the “Desired Track Length” on the left to the appropriate time. Then when you audition the track on the timeline, it will give you the 10 second version. Or you can shrink it or make it longer depending on the length of your intro. Create Music’s algorithm automatically changes the music to fit your desired length, making it sound natural and composed specifically for you.
Now with your theme track selected, notice you have access to a number of variations and mixes. You can even set the mix yourself to change the mood of the piece and keep it within theme. This allows you to make sounds for different segments, like the intro versus the outro, transition sounds, or tracks to use on commercials.
Let’s say you have a travel show, you’ve set your title theme, for example to Leviathan from the Motion and Pulse album. In your video, maybe you have a visual of you walking through the streets. Here you can use the same variation, but remove the sounds of the other instruments so it’s just the rhythm. For transitions or other sound elements, you can shorten it even further to about 6 seconds and get a hit that can be tinkered with using the mixing tools, trim, and automation.
Involve your team
Marketing is a team effort. Maybe you’re on the staff of a small company or it’s just a solo project, but never be afraid to ask for help or feedback. The best slogans come from teams. Do you think Nike’s marketing agency was just one guy, bouncing a tennis ball against the wall when he suddenly came up with the “Just Do It” slogan and they decided to run with it?
No, that was made by a team, bouncing ideas against each other.
Probably the original slogan was something like, “Do sports simply for fun.” But after several rounds of feedback and ideas, they were able to whittle it down to that simple, beautiful phrase that everyone recognizes. When you’re creating your branding, use your team.
Use your branding tools – color, slogan, logo, music – throughout your content creation. Use the colors in your clothes, LUTs, filters, highlights, and so on. Your music can be thematic for your channel, or different tracks or styles used in different series. Think of Star Wars, how John Williams maintained the single brand unity of the trilogies with his epic motifs. Listen to how each trilogy had their own leitmotifs, but then there was also hints and returns to the main title anthem and the Imperial March from the originals.
Content is king
Create great content. People are always saying “content is king”, and it’s true. The importance of a blog and YouTube videos, simply for SEO, is pivotal. New blog content can get your site rated higher and higher on organic search rankings, and it gets people to come back and to stay interested in you, establishing a kind of brand loyalty.
If you’re selling music, books, shirts, travel guides, whatever, having that regular flow of information gets people to return to your page. Maybe they don’t make another purchase today, but will in the future when something interests them. Without that regular content, they might never have returned to your site to know you had a product that was useful for them.
Think of some brands that are extraordinary at creating great content. First that comes to mind is Red Bull. They organize and sponsor sports events and daredevil stunts, which all generates word-of-mouth advertising. It also gets their brand into your head – especially for their target audience. Then when they’re at the store, the energy drink they choose is the one in their head behind all this great content, Red Bull, not the one they’ve barely heard of.
That of course is in the traditional world of product sales, but it’s not a great stretch of the imagination to see how this can apply to the world of content creation.
Blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts are all great at driving traffic. Activating all three for your brand and cross-pollinate to make them even better. Advertise your blogs and podcasts on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Say you’ve got a YouTube show, but also make a short blog to go along with it (or vice versa). Maybe the blog goes viral, which then propels people to your YouTube show. A strong sense of brand management would include maintaining a presence on various social media.
Whatever strategy you end up following, remember these nine principles of branding and you’ll be sure to rocket to success.