The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Branding

Let’s ask an existential question: Do you know who you are?

Sure, you have a name – most of us do – and maybe you’ve even decided on a fun username to go by. You may even already have a cool logo or signature photo you use to identify yourself. But have you ever really sat down and thought about who you are as a content creator?

An identity’s brand (or brand identity) is the collection of parts that make them who they are. While some people may think that a brand consists solely of a logo or a few color and font choices, they are really pieces of a larger puzzle. A well thought out brand answers the questions that a creator asks themselves, and allows them to showcase those answers to the people that tune into their streams.

What is a brand, really?

Without getting too much more philosophical, let’s say it another way: a brand is the way that an individual is perceived by those who experience them. It’s your personality, your aesthetic, and your ethical choices – and how you choose to display them through more physical means (like a logo or color choices).

Every person online – whether they are a content creator, or just a regular person – has a brand. And every interaction you have with your audience gives them a piece of this brand. Even if you’ve never sat down and thought about what your brand is, your audience members already have their own preconceptions about you.

They see the way you interact with your audience, how you carry yourself on social media, and how you handle yourself in high-pressure situations. And all of these small interactions come together to form how an audience member sees you as you stream.

For a creator, a brand identity is broken down into two parts: Intangibles, and Tangibles. The intangibles are things people can’t see, but can still experience, like your personality. Tangibles are the ways we express them, like a logo. For both of these, though, it’s worth taking some time to sit down and really consider how you as a creator want to put yourself out there on your stream, in your videos, or on social media.

Figuring Out The Intangibles

Many people get stressed out when you talk to them about an ‘identity design’, because in their mind, it means spending money on a logo or branding elements. The good news is that you can figure out most of your brand without spending a dime.

All it takes is an hour or two of sitting down and really thinking about how you want to position yourself as a creator. And once you’ve figured out these parts, you can take these ideas to a designer to translate them into a logo, stream panels, or other tangible products.

If you’re at a bit of a standstill, consider the following questions:

1) Who is your target audience?

If you could build the perfect community, what sort of people would you want to fill it with? Do you want people who are chill and relaxed, or do you want a never-ending party and excitement at every turn? Knowing what sort of people you want to attract to your content will allow you to tailor the content to match your potential audience.

2) What makes you unique from other creators?

This is always a hard question to answer, mainly because some people don’t have an answer for it yet. If you’re new, it can be difficult to set yourself apart from the other creators. Find out what makes you unique and focus on that – chances are someone is looking for a creator with exactly what you are offering. 

3) What personality do you give off?

Are you quiet and reserved, or loud and reactive? Is your sense of humor dry, or are you the master at dad jokes and puns? Figuring how how you handle yourself on camera (or how you want to handle yourself) is a large step in figuring out what your overall brand will be.

4) What’s your story?

Everyone loves a good story. Maybe you’re an artist that is looking to get their work out onto the internet. Maybe you’re a former entrepreneur looking to do something different. Your ‘origin story’ is the first chapter in your success story – the journey you take as a creator, and by figuring out where you came from (or where you are), then you can help your audience understand where you’re going.

5) What are 5 words that describe you (or that your community would use to describe you)?

Answering this question forces you to think positively about yourself and what you bring to the table. If you are having trouble, the CliftonStrength’s test (formerly the StrengthsFinder) asks a series of questions to give you 5 words from their list of 34 themes.

Alternatively, since the CliftonStrength’s test is a paid assessment, take a few minutes to write down as many words as you can think of. Set a timer, and stop immediately once it goes off. Once your time is up, go through those and pick the best words that describe you. If you already have a community, it’s fun to ask some trusted members what they think of you – their answers may surprise you. 

A Quick Word On ‘Personas’

Before we get into the ‘tangible’ stuff, let’s talk about ‘personas’ – a scripted identity that people use for their content. The use of an avatar or scripted personality is on the rise as people want to remain anonymous online, even as content creators. If you choose to do this, then every interaction you make with your community needs to be within that persona. It’s not a bad thing by any means to have an adopted avatar, but staying ‘in character’ can be tricky if you aren’t used to it.

Tangible Elements: Logos and More

Once you’ve figured out your brand’s personality and story, it’s time to translate them into something tangible. There are several ‘identity elements’ you could use on your livestreams or videos:

  • A Logo
  • Streaming Software Elements (Borders/Frames, Alert Animations)
  • Cover Artwork for your channel(s)
  • YouTube Thumbnails
  • Twitch Panel Titles/Graphics

If you are on a limited budget, I would recommend getting a good logo as your first priority. A logo is the definitive cornerstone of your brand, and should reflect all of the answers to the questions you’ve been asking yourself at the beginning of the article.  

You should expect to pay between $50 and $250 for your first logo. While there are logo creators that will do it cheaper (or even free), many of those options are ‘cookie cutter’, and may not be truly representative of the brand you are trying to establish. If you’re serious about growing your stream, it’s worth investing early in a logo that you can carry with you throughout your early streaming career.

The steps you take to have a logo designed are very similar to having any visual elements designed, so for the sake of simplicity we’ll focus on that process first.

1) Have a Few Ideas in Mind

You should have even a few simple notes ready to go for whatever designer you decide to hire. This gives the professional a path to walk down, and leaves them open to do what they do best: create. And the best part: you already have several steps worth (and several answered questions) you can present to the designer to help them along.

2) Finding the Right Designer

There are several avenues you can take to find the right designer. For most people, hopping onto and hiring a designer is the best choice. Look through the choices and pick 3-5 designers that you like. Compare their previous designs with each other. Look at the number of ‘revisions’ you get – how many times can you send the logo back to the designer for edits? See if they have any ‘package’ deals that give you a suite of options (twitch panels, camera frames, alerts). How are they ‘rated’? And are the ratings padded, or legitimate? I like to look at the 3-4 star reviews to see what people’s feedback were, vs looking at the 1 or 5 star reviews.

Alternatively, you can reach out to a ‘design agency’. They tend to be more expensive, but you may have a team of people or designers working on your project, vs just having a freelancer work on it. 

Once you’ve found the right designer, you can either Continue with them (and pay for the package outright) or contact them if you have any additional questions. Most designers are happy to answer whatever questions you have (and if the answers aren’t to your liking, then feel free to keep looking!)

3) Working With Your Designer

Once you’ve hired the perfect designer, communication with them (and from them to you) is key. Be up front with all of your needs and requirements. Send them concise summaries of all of your brand research. Be open to their suggestions and feedback – even if you ultimately say no, it’s good to at least other ideas, especially from someone whose profession is creating.

The designer will send you ‘comps’ – watermarked mockups of the final logo. It’s your job, now, to provide valid and concise feedback. Do you like the logo? Does anything need to change? Are the colors correct? Be polite, but firm, in your feedback. If something is incorrect, tell them WHY so they understand your reasoning.

You may have several rounds of back-and-forth between you and the designer, depending on how many revision rounds you have in your package.

4) The Deliverables

Once you have approved all of the designers’ work, then it’s time to receive the files. You should receive one or more of the following:

  • Either a .jpg or .png version of the logo for web use.
  • (Optional) A vector version of the logo for use in video or print material
  • (Optional) A zipped file containing any other assets you’ve purchased (stream assets, social media graphics, etc).

Once you’ve confirmed receipt of the deliverables, the transaction is complete. If you had a good experience with the designer, leave them an appropriate rating on Fiverr – most designers live and die by that rating. Leave detailed feedback so that others can have the same experience (or a better experience) than you had.

5) Use it EVERYWHERE – and be Consistent!

You’ve taken a look at yourself and written down brand notes. You know who you are, your target audience, and how you want to ‘carry yourself’ in content. And now you’ve communicated these notes into a logo that reflects your brand image. Now, your goal is to take this brand you’ve set up and use it -everywhere- you are online.

Put your logo on your social media profile. Use it as a watermark in YouTube videos. Have it on your website. Put it as your email signature. Use the logo and make stickers out of it to give out. Anywhere you go as your brand, you should be using your brand guidelines, your voice, and your logo. If you don’t, people may get confused about who you are, and you may miss out on subscriptions or other revenue.

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