Personalized Birthday Videos

Spicing Up Your Typography

In humble pursuits of my birthday video business idea, I may have gone a little overboard.

You see, I started trying to make my own personal rendition of happy birthday and it wasn’t going well. While I’ve shared my music production skills (some may call them attempts), in the past, I just couldn’t find my mojo. Every instrument I tried sounded wrong to my ear.

Let There Be Video

In an effort to save the day, I switched over to making the video. Here’s what I know I want in each video:

  • The person’s name
  • Lyrics on-screen (for our hard-of-hearing friends!)
  • Some animations

And that’s as far as I got.

After a little brainstorming I came up with the idea to have the lyrics on balloons or frosted on cakes. Since “Happy Birthday” is a 10-second song and I’ll probably be playing it twice anyway, why not both? So today I tried doing both.

The Importance of Typography

Before I go any further, I want to briefly mention how important font choice and typography is. Since this is my entire birthday video, it’s especially important to nail in this video since it’ll be the only thing people see. But even on our blogs it’s important. We can convey feeling and honestly, a sense of competency. Personally, I take blogs with nice graphics and fonts more seriously than ones with mismatching ones.

But on most WordPress plans, there isn’t really much of an option with fonts. The next best thing without emptying your wallet is to focusing on graphics within posts. I’ll do my best to provide as much information as I can below so you can implement any strategies you see fit to your future graphic design pursuits.

The Balloon Text

It may go without saying, but this morning I had no idea how to make text look like a balloon. Shocking, I know.

So I spent a few minutes perusing the internet to find a handy tutorial and lo and behold, YouTube had exactly what I needed. Here’s a link if you’re interested:

While I am no stranger to Photoshop, this tutorial was a doozy. I’m not kidding, it was probably about 200 steps. Thankfully, the guy that narrates it took it nice and slow and was very easy to follow. After beveling and embossing until my fingers bled, I managed to obtain a pretty similar result:

Not bad if I do say so myself. For my reproduction, I used the public domain font Fulbo Tano which produced a nice balloon shape.

The only downside to this effect was that it wasn’t really a font. While in the video the narrator explains how you can get the text to read other things, my Photoshop had enough of me and was throwing a bit of a tantrum. In efforts not to anger the Adobe gods, I just created PNGs of the alphabet. So to “type” anything, I have to copy letter-by-letter. Maybe I’ll try and fix this later, but I am so over it for now.

The Frosting Text

Riding my highs of my last beautiful plastic-y creation, I turned to make a frosting text. Again, I found a handy tutorial, though this one was an article. Look at how cute it is!

Final product image
From https://design.tutsplus.com (tutorial linked here)

Loving the piped work, I set my sights on sugary glory only to fall flat on my face. I have followed each step and it stamps on instead of paints? As of my last attempt, I’m stuck with something that looks like it lost a gingerbread contest:

I’m giving up for today, but in the back of my mind part of me is hopeful I can also master the ambitious no-video tutorial.

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Blogging, Brand Building

An Introduction to Visual Branding on Your Blog

Lately I’ve been doing a little studying. I’ve tried to find popular blogs and compare them. What do they all seem to do? What ideas seem universally successful?

One thing I noticed immediately was that all of their posts had the same cohesive look. You could open any post by them and know it was them. They all had strong visual brands.

Why Visual Branding Is Important

For a brief period in my life, I worked with start-ups. It was my responsibility to help them cultivate a target audience and strategize how to reach them. I was a marketing “consultant.”

I used to teach new entrepreneurs how to set up an identity. What’s your target audience? What colors will you consistently use? What emotions do you want those colors to evoke? Which fonts will you consistently use? What does your company’s voice sound like?

Questions like these may seem simple and maybe irrelevant. But it’s crucial that a new company presents themselves in a consistent way for the consumer to learn their brand.

Examples of Blogs with Strong Visual Branding

You probably see where I’m going with this – your blog is your brand. You have an opportunity with your blog to express yourself and make yourself stand out. This was something that quite a successful blogs did. I want to show you a few that I saw that were strong in their voices – and they’re all still active! Send them some love! I linked to posts that I really liked and also showed strong branding.

Caitlin Althea

What She Writes: Caitlin is a book blogger.

Visual Branding: Caitlin’s blog has a light blue and green color scheme. She uses blue and green flowers as separators within her post – something that definitely catches the reader’s eye. Her sidebar contains green watercolor links. There’s something very warm and inviting about her graphics. This is one of the most unique blogs that I’ve come across, you can tell she put effort into showing off her personality.

What We Can Learn from Caitlin: If a reader can tell you’ve put a lot of effort into producing comments, they’re more likely to do a deeper dive on your content.

Forever and Everly

What She Writes: May is also a book blogger.

Visual Branding: I mean, come on, this blog is cute. She focuses on a floral theme, including pink flowers that separate her posts. They look hand drawn. I really recommend checking out the post I linked and just scrolling because you can see so many visual branding elements, and yet it’s not overwhelming.

Side note: I think we use the same font for our signatures, I swear it’s just a coincidence!

What We Can Learn from May: May is creative and she’s come up with graphics that others might not think about. She puts her hand drawn flowers over her picture to hide her face. She also has a “Shall We Chat?” graphic at the bottom of her posts. Think abut graphics that speak to you and your content.

Thoughts Stained with Ink

What She Writes: Pretty much everything. From video game reviews to publishing her own short stories, Nicole’s got a little dose of something for everyone.

She’s also done a few fantastic posts on Black Lives Matter and her journey in educating herself on how we can all better combat racial injustice. I’ll link to the first one here – highly recommend them.

Visual Branding: A focus on black, white, and red that gives a little bit of a spooky feel. Her graphics are all cohesive, she maintains the same shade of red in all of her content. Take a look at her sidebar – it’s a cute caricature that has all the personality in the world (did you notice her tattoo?), social media icons that look like medieval banners, and sword-bearing headings.

What We Can Learn from Nicole: Get creative. Find a visual brand that speaks to you. No matter how over-the-top or how intricate, you can incorporate it into the content that you produce.

My Visual Branding

You may have noticed already, but I’ve updated my posts to include a variety of graphics to my blog. I’ll include the ones I chose to make here, maybe to inspire you.

I went with a simpler black and white look. I prefer clean graphics myself, so I wanted to focus on simplicity. Graphics here include: a banner of which project you’re reading about, a featured image (to also tell you which project you’re reading about), a graphic I put at the bottom of our book reviews, a photo for my sidebar, a graphic that links to our list of classics, a social media graphic, and my signature (which is the same as my old one, just bigger).

EDIT: Since this post, my visual branding has evolved and refined. Remember that this is a continual process and don’t be afraid to refine!

How You Can Start Developing Branding

Use Canva. If you’re not familiar with the platform, it’s an online, free editing platform. There’s thousands of templates and it makes creating graphics incredibly easy.

If you don’t know where to start at all, I recommend this guide. They walk through statistics on why visual branding is important, how to position elements in a photo, how to pick colors, and more. It’s honestly such a useful resource.

I also would recommend this post, where they walk through step-by-step which graphics they’d create for a fake blog. Getting to see the reasoning can be more than helpful if you’re lost.

Lastly, this post is all about creating images to advertise on social media, so if that’s something you’re doing, check this out.

That’s about all that I’ve got for you today. If this interests you, let me know! I have many more thoughts on all of this and materials I used to give to start-ups I was helping. I’d be happy to write more about how to visually brand or maybe even create a downloadable guide. But also, I pass the question off to you: what do you do to help create an identity for your blog? What did I miss? Let’s talk down below.

As always, thanks for reading!

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