Body Language, or Non-Verbal Communication, is the majority of communication. Never more so than online.
OK, if you publish video or you are a podcaster you have more expressive possibilities.
For the rest of us though we have to be more careful to put across what we mean, who we are, our brand.
Your blog is communicating both intentionally and unintentionally. If there is a miscommunication there is no-one to blame but ourselves.
Audit Your Blog Brand
Take a good, long, hard look at your blog. What is it saying? Is there stuff there that shouldn’t be? Have you randomly built it up without any plan? Time to clean house.
This is not just about removing embarrassingly trivial widgets, that LOLCat picture, and the funny video of your friends stag party. (Although you might want to do that too!).
Just like in human body language, it is wrong to take one “gesture” and try to infer the whole meaning from it. If someone scratches their nose they might well be lying, but just as likely is they have an itch.
Our job with conveying the right impression with our blogs is to put together a consistent story combining all elements.
First of all you need to make sure your blog is making a good first impression. Does it instantly tell your reader where they are, who they are dealing with, what there is to read? This is all about being friendly and interesting. Many blogs are stand-offish, rather than welcoming you with open arms they make the reader do all the work. Most people won’t make the effort.
Put Your Best Dress On
Imagine you are going for an interview or meeting a client for the first time
- How would you dress?
- How would you behave?
- What would you do to put the other party at ease?
- If you were the other party, what would you look for in your non-verbal communication?
In most cases you are aiming to come across as professional and approachable, someone who can do their job but be likeable at the same time. It’s the same with your blog.
Content Might Be King, But Visuals Speak Volumes
A big part of how your blog communicates is visual. Of course blogs are about written content but your visitor will see the visuals first. We make snap decisions, our brains are hard wired to infer any given situation visually
- Is this place “safe“? – does it look spammy?
- Can this person be trusted? – what do I know about the author, if at all? Do they show their picture, bio?
- Does the design appeal? – your design doesn’t have to win any awards but if it looks like it was created in 1994 you probably won’t win many fans either
- Do I feel a connection with this blogger? – just like when you meet face to face, your visitor will look for things that make them feel on the same wavelength
We can’t all have a beautiful professionally designed template, but that is not necessary. If your design can convey trustworthiness and approachability then you will be making a good start. Perhaps you will pay for a professional design later, or maybe you need to guide your designer now, but make sure at the very least your readers first thought is “this is a blog I would like to get to know“.
Pictures = 1000 Words
One of the best ways to convey meanings is through photography. My favourite use of photography in a blog is my part-time blogging home, CopyBlogger. Each story starts with a photograph. It sets the scene and the tone and draws you in.
Your blog at the very least needs to show your own photograph somewhere. Preferably looking appropriately welcoming. I say appropriately, you don’t need to go to extremes. Consider getting a photographer friend to take a good portrait if your blog represents your company. I took my own picture while experimenting with my camera, I really need to do it properly, but it at least looks friendly (I hope).
Say It With Colour
Most people are aware that colours have meanings. Just as you are careful with colour when you dress, so should you consider what colours you dress your blog in.
- Black = Secrets? Serious?
- Grey = Maturity? Dull?
- White = Purity?
- Navy Blue = Business (IBM was “Big Blue”)?
- Sky Blue = Optimism, a little feminine?
- Pink = Childishly feminine?
- Yellow = Warning, Cowardice?
- Gold = Wealth?
- Green = Nature?
- Brown = Earth, History? Dirt?
- Red = Alert, Passion, Blood?
- Purple = Royalty?
For my blog my key colour was orange. It is a warm colour, evokes energy, positivity, while being friendly. A bonus is you don’t see it used that much. Highlights are in red, used sparingly so they stand out. Take a look now and spot where red is used. See what I did?
My business is blue, but I chose a lighter blue because it still has to reflect the customer experience which is anything but super-formal. It is blue and white which I hope evokes optimism (blue skies, etc).
The problem is while we all share some overlap in colour meanings, we also interpret them our own way, and some colour meanings are very cultural. You just have to do your best to put together the best package as possible.
This is why your whole message needs to be congruent, it is the impact of the whole that has the lasting effect.
Your colour scheme needs to work to both draw attention but also be soothingly readable. If your content is too jarringly high-contrast nobody will be able to read it but at the same time it needs enough contrast for people with poor eyesight to be included.
Wash and Brush Up
Don’t get too stressed about this. Just audit your blog and look for what message each element conveys and the combined story they are telling. Does what you are communicating fit with what you want to be communicating? Tweak to suit. Make sure you are not sending mixed messages and people will respond.
How did you decide on your blog design and layout? What other factors should you consider that I have missed? Let us know in the comments …
Table of contents for Better Blog Branding
- Better Blog Branding: What’s In a Name?
- Better Blog Branding: 10 Ways To Destroy Your Brand
- Better Blog Branding: Domain Exclusivity
- Better Blog Branding: Is Your Brand Breaking Promises?
- Better Blog Branding: Finding Your Uniqueness
- Better Blog Branding: How to Stand Out By Being First
- Better Blog Branding: Your Blogs Hidden Messages
- Better Blog Branding: Your Successful Brand
- Branding and Changing the Rules of the Game
- Naming Your Blog: How to Create Catchy Blog Names
- What Are You Saying Between the Lines?