Once you’ve defined your brand’s narrative, and a clear voice to go along with it, you’re ready to dive into all the little things that make for a strong, well defined brand. Be sure to keep both story and voice in mind as you develop all of the categories of content below. Doing them right will help build you a strong, clearly defined platform from which to deliver your content, and build a healthy community around it with a strong sense of shared identity.
Content creators need images for dozens of reasons. Profile pictures, banners, headers, emotes, thumbnails; the list goes on and on. Every new platform, every new social media network, every comment section, forum, or blog, they all demand images, for your profile, your content, and everything in between. Every place you can upload an image is another opportunity to define your brand, and you should be taking advantage of all of them.
What does this mean? Custom images.
Maybe you’re an artist. If you are, these are indispensable opportunities to show off your work. Creating art is actually a part of your brand, so it’s important that you enhance that narrative by creating your own images, letting people in on the design process, and showing off your work.
But, most creators are not visual artists.
For everyone else, there is no choice to be made: hiring an artist to design and create your images is a must.
Amateurish or poorly conceived design work will severely inhibit your ability to grow your platform as a creator. Look, the simple fact is there are a ton of creators out there. There’s no shortage of professionally-minded streamers and content creators doing it right, and making sure everyone who passes by knows it, right away. They accomplish this through the professional quality of not only their stream, but their art, their logos, the quality of their overlays. We know that most of this has little real impact on the quality of the actual content a channel puts out, but, when someone is doing all of the extra stuff right, it’s a sure-fire sign that the creator is taking their craft seriously, and the content likely matches the effort put into outward appearances. Poorly designed art sends the opposite message, that a creator isn’t giving proper attention to detail. Is this fair? Maybe not. But fair doesn’t matter. It’s still the truth. If you want to be taken seriously as a creator, you have to do the little things, and that means, when you need to, getting help from an expert.
An important note: Quality art doesn’t come free, and it’s worth paying for.
Visual artists and content creators are really kindred spirits. They’re all independent craftsmen, trying to make a living out of the thing they love: artistic expression. In the same way that you want to be compensated for the incredible amount of work you put into your platform, artists deserve to be financially compensated for the hard work they put into your logos, emotes, etc. They don’t work for good will or exposure, and you shouldn’t expect them to. When you begin a relationship with a designer, you are engaging in a professional partnership. Define your terms early, discussing things like compensation at the beginning of a conversation. Create as much clarity as possible in regards to timelines. Communicate. Be professional, courteous, and clear. The more formally you manage the relationship, the smoother your interaction will be, and the better the work will turn out.
We previously discussed how important it is to define your voice as a creator, and how to look at yourself with the right critical eye to discover the elements of that voice. Obviously, the most important place and time to develop that voice is within your content itself. You should always be mindful of how your work reflects the themes you’ve identified as central to your brand. There are additional outlets, however, for establishing your voice as a creator, that shouldn’t be ignored.
First of all, every streamer needs to be heavily involved with the world of social media. Now, look, I get it. Nobody really wants to feel like they have to engage on these platforms. The idea of Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook becoming a required part of your work routine is understandably unpleasant for many people. Well, too bad: it ain’t optional. Social media is an absolute necessity.
Every creator needs their platform to grow. They need more viewers, collaborators, and other creators from whom to learn. Social media is, quite simply, where everyone is. It’s the modern public square, the agora, the town center. It’s the most public place wherein you get to talk about yourself and your work with people who might not know you, and that makes it pivotal when it comes to growth. Do you have to be everywhere? On every platform? Of course not. That would be insane. But, you need to pick a home, a main platform that you use to talk about your content, to share information and scheduling, to communicate. And, if you’re communicating, it means you have to keep the earlier discussion about voice in mind. Every interaction, every tweet, every snap, it all needs to be through the lens of your unique voice.
This also extends to things like blogs, vlogs, and podcasts, which, by the way, are an important tool for most any content creator. Not only do these formats give you another avenue to establish your brand, but they also let your audience closer, they give them another outlet to learn more about you. Personal connection is the engine that drives this space; the more connected to a creator a viewer feels, the more likely they are to become a long time viewer and supporter. That’s why it’s important to have some outlet, some platform for content, that isn’t as focused on gaming or related stuff, but rather is focused on you. Giving your audience a chance to get to know you better as a person can go a long way towards establishing that connection, that trust, that leads to a strong creator-viewer relationship. Be sure you’ve considered building such a platform of your own.
It’s important that we talk about how these professional relationships can and should impact your overall brand. As discussed, brand deals are one of the most reliable sources of income for creators, and that can make some a little antsy to find those relationships, even if they’re not necessarily a great fit. It’s important that you give thought to how any such opportunity would impact the story you’ve built around your content.
Many brands can be great for your own narrative. One example, also mentioned in our Brand Deals 101 course, that always springs to mind is the creator with the big, bushy, glorious beard who is endorsed by a beard grooming company. This is a perfect representation of how a good match between creator and brand just works. The creator was known for his beard. It’s an element of his logo, of his emotes, and most every piece of art he uses across his platform. Endorsing a company that creates beard lotions and oils, particularly one he believes in, enhances that theme. It makes that one element, the beard, even more strongly associated with his brand, while also serving as a great outlet for the company itself to promote their products in an organic setting. Nobody is going to be upset by the relationship because it comes across as organic, and appropriate.
But, of course, the opposite can also be true. Receiving an endorsement that seems to come out of nowhere won’t do anything to enhance your voice or your narrative, and, in some cases, can actually do the opposite, either making you look like a shill, or, worse, connecting you to a brand that actually does damage to your credibility. For these reasons, it’s important that your brand narrative remain in your mind as you consider endorsements. The law of unintended consequences is a very real thing, tempered only by mindfulness and preparedness. Do it right, though, and you’ll have a reliable source of income, and a stronger brand. Hard to knock that.
The content creation community loves charity. It’s just a fact. They get together for big time charity streaming events, like Zeldathon and Desert Bus for Hope, donate in huge numbers for individual charity streams, and in general just love to do good as a community. This, in and of itself, is reason enough for every content creator to focus on charitable giving. Events are a great way to get new viewers, and giving them an opportunity to contribute to a good cause makes them feel great while watching, a big motivator when it comes to getting people to come back.
But, it’s also a great opportunity to help establish your own unique brand. There are so many worthy charities out there, but the content creation community tends to focus on a small group of charities they’re already comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong, this is great. Groups like Operation Supply Drop and St. Jude’s are incredible organizations very deserving of your donations. Still, it’s likely there are other charities to which you feel a particular affinity. If you care about something, and you’re not seeing anyone else talking about it or raising money for it, turning your content into a fundraising platform not only raises funds for a good cause, but helps to further define your platform as unique. You can make a real difference, while also furthering your goals a content creator. Hard to argue with that!