At MoreNiche, hundreds of our affiliates have no real ‘brand’ to speak of on their affiliate site. These tend to be our lowest earning affiliates. Top affiliates understand the importance of a good, recognisable logo on their site – and indeed a brand identity for their site as a whole.
It’s what sets their sites apart from the rest, builds their reputations and in turn builds the trust of their visitors. Done well, a strong brand identity will even lead to people actively hunting for a review on your site specifically above all others. The end result? More trusted reviews, and more sales.
WHY YOUR AFFILIATE SITE NEEDS A BRAND
What was the last major electronic item you purchased? Let’s say it was a Hoover. Did you just hop onto Argos and buy the first thing you saw, or did you research online a bit first?
If you’re anything like me, your first port of call would have been Amazon. Why? Because I can order the results by the product’s reputation. I know the people who have reviewed the products on here have actually purchased the items for sale, so I trust their feedback.
In my head when I think of Amazon, I think of a good place to go for genuine reviews. It saves me from buying rubbish items which will break within the first year, and it makes me feel safer during the whole purchase, especially with their top-notch customer service and no-quibble returns policy. When I think about Amazon, I can see their logo in my mind, and I trust it.
Great, but what, you ask, does this have to do with branding an affiliate site? A lot actually.
Imagine you are newly interested in the world of bodybuilding. You don’t yet know much about it, but you’re keen to learn more. You’re like a sponge, absorbing information from anywhere online that you feel is trustworthy. You come across a site which is generally targeted towards those looking to bulk up. Let’s say it’s called ‘Here’s-some-supplements-and-this-site-is-unbranded-and-boring.com’. It’s filled with lots of great articles which you find very helpful, and it also contains some brilliantly helpful product reviews, or better still, case studies for Brutal Force, Black Wolf and a few other supplements.
You go on to purchase a product recommended by the site and close the site. The next day, you have a little spare time and you want to read the same kind of articles again. You really enjoyed those you read yesterday and have even been practising some of the workouts you saw on there, but there’s one issue: you can’t for the life of you remember what the site was called – and therefore you can’t find it.
The next step is you’re back on Google, on someone else’s site, reading their reviews and buying the products they recommend instead. But this site also has a clearly defined brand which stands out and is catchy and cool. You like this site. You decide to sign up for their newsletter so you can get more tips from ‘John the personal trainer’ from ‘Megamuscles.com’.
Over the coming weeks, John sends you newsletters which bring you back to the site again and again. His logo features a clenched fist, and it’s striking and memorable. You can even recognise it just from the little favicon at the top of your web browser. You know when you see it, you will always enjoy what you read, pick up some top tips and become one step closer to achieving your goals.
This brand has become a favourite and you love it. You’re a Facebook fan, you follow them on Twitter, you enter their competitions, you share their posts and you comment on them frequently. When they add a product review, you trust what they say is true, because you’ve spent many hours reading their top-quality articles on all things related to bodybuilding. You now feel like you ‘know’ John and can rely on him.
The next time you’re at the gym, you feel yourself tiring easily. You wonder whether there is a supplement that can help with that. This time, you don’t go to Google, or even Amazon, you go directly to ‘Megamuscles.com’ and search their site for reviews on products which help with gym fatigue.
This is the affiliate site which gets the repeat sales.
But what happened to Heres-some-supplements-and-this-site-is-unbranded-and-boring.com? You forgot about it – you’ll probably never visit it again. Even if you could find the site, you find ‘Megamuscle.com’ much more interesting now. It makes you feel ‘connected’; you trust it and you enjoy its content immensely.
This is why as an affiliate, your site needs a brand. It gives you a distinct advantage over other affiliate sites and puts you miles ahead of the competition.
THE BEST KIND OF AFFILIATE SITE TO BRAND
Branding works best on sites which cover a niche in a general manner. For example, a site covering workout supplements is better, in my opinion, than a brand-specific site such as ‘Brutal Force reviews’. You can never truly brand a site that focuses on one supplement and all the reviews surrounding it.
For one thing, it makes you look extremely biased which lowers your visitors’ trust in what you have to say, and secondly, you’ll only ever come across as a secondary site to the official brand site. Your site will never be memorable or important in its own right. It will always just look like just another ‘feeder’ site and very obviously only existent to generate affiliate commission. Google doesn’t like this and its visitors don’t either.
Another advantage of having a more generalised niche affiliate website is the scope it gives you to incorporate more brands into the reviews in the future. For example, a site such as ‘Megamuscles.com’ could quite easily feature Brutal Force and Black Wolf, but also any other related brands all while targeting the same audience. Not only is this good for growth, it avoids a potential crisis if one of the brands stops trading in the future. After all, it’s always a good idea not to keep all your eggs in one basket.
THE BASICS OF LOGO DESIGN
Now that we’ve got the reasoning out of the way, we can begin to finally talk ‘logos’.
Choosing a name
One of the first things you need before even contemplating contacting a designer is your domain name. Be sure to come up with something catchy, memorable and maybe even a little bit different. Ensure the domain name isn’t too long, and make sure it doesn’t contain any words which people commonly misspell.
I would recommend no more than three words in a domain, and no dashes or other symbols, as it just leads to confusion when people try to verbally talk about your site. If you want to build a brand, these things matter.
Next, decide whether you will incorporate the domain extension into your logo design and also check for any existing trademarks on your chosen name. Consider whether you’d like to submit an application of your own too at this stage.
How your brand will be portrayed
Once you have your name, it’s time to start thinking about how you’d like the design of your logo to work. You need to think about:
How you want your brand to be portrayed. Do you want to appear fun, knowledgeable, professional, wacky, or something else?
Where your logo will appear. If you plan to use your logo in places where it will appear small – in favicons or on business cards for example, it can make good sense to create a unique symbol, which can become easily recognisable whether it has text accompanying it or not (think of the Pepsi/Shell/Facebook symbols).
Will your logo have a slogan? If so, what will it be?
First and foremost, you’ll need to sketch out any ideas you have for your logo or symbol design. It doesn’t matter if you have lots of different ideas; draw them all just with a pencil and paper. They can be scanned or photographed and sent to the designer once you’ve appointed one. Don’t worry if they’re messy or childish. It’s the concept the designer needs to see, not your drawing skills, and they’ll have seen a lot of amateur drawings over the years!
Even if you can just get your most basic ideas down on paper, it will help the designer to understand what you have in mind. Don’t worry about colours for now; everything can be in black and white to begin with. And if it doesn’t look good in black and white, it’s not good enough!
The ideas you jot down won’t necessarily become the final design. It’s possible none of them will, or perhaps the designer will spot a couple of potential factors to use in more than one doodle. A good designer will use what’s good and ignore any ideas he/she thinks just don’t work.
Even if you don’t have any design ideas, your designer may well come up with something that you’d never have thought of. You’ll be amazed at what a creative bunch they can be! With a bit of collaboration and trial and error, you should be able to eventually produce a good final design that you are both proud of.
You only have to look at the world around you to see just how impactful symbols can be as logos. Even without a mention of the brand name, I bet you can say out loud now the name of every one of these brands:
If you don’t recognise all of these brands, you’ve probably lived under a rock for your entire life. They are perfect examples of just how effective a simple symbol can be in making a brand instantly recognisable from a distance without the need for a single letter. Sometimes there’s not even any colour involved, as in the WWF panda and Nike tick.
When it comes to symbols, less is usually more. The symbol needs to reflect what your brand will stand for. You’ll know when you’ve got the right concept because it will just strike you immediately in a light-bulb moment.
Design mistakes to avoid
Don’t make your design look like a penis, unless you intend it to! This logo for the ‘Dirty Bird’ fried chicken takeaway looks suspiciously like something it perhaps shouldn’t for a family restaurant (although the owner denies all knowledge).
The same applies to female genitals. Avoid unless intentional. I’m not sure I’d fancy eating here:
Don’t put colours together which don’t belong together. Use the colour wheel and pick colours from opposite ends of the scale for the best statement. Anything else tends to clash and/or be difficult to read.
Similarly, don’t have too many things going on in your symbol. It can get very busy and confusing.
Can you see this company becoming a household name? What is it even about? (They actually sell replacement car parts, but the logo just leaves me wondering whether I’m hallucinating.)
WHERE TO GET A LOGO DESIGNED
These days there are more options than ever for anyone wanting a professionally designed logo. Whether you’re a pro or a complete newbie, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to hire a brilliant designer to produce a logo for you.
This is an excellent site to head straight over to if your budget allows. You create your design brief, and up to 90 designers will get straight to work on producing a concept for you. You can give feedback during the process and at the end of it all you get to choose your favourite. It really is the best way to get as many good ideas as possible.
Prices start from £229 (for up to 30 designers) and go right up to £979 to have 60 of their best quality designers working on your project. Check out their website here.
There are both good and not so good designers on Upwork and Fiverr. Quality can usually be gauged on price, however there are exceptions to this rule. Good designers are expensive, but there are also designers out there with no formal training who believe that they can design a great brand just because they know how to use the relevant software. They price their projects as high as the professionals but don’t come up with the same quality of work. Beware of this kind of designer. Always ask to see a designer’s portfolio before agreeing to work with them.
Upwork holds payments in escrow, so there is a chance of raising a dispute with some meditation on offer if any issues do arise, but it is a risk nonetheless, unlike the 99Designs method.
WORKING DIRECTLY WITH A DESIGNER
A Google search will, of course, return lots of results for graphic designers you can contact directly. When working in this way, the same applies with regards to being wary of unqualified designers. The extra danger of working directly with a designer is your lack of comeback if the design is awful, not what you wanted or the designer won’t do the revisions you need. It’s literally you alone against them, so there’s a lot of trust involved here.
Questions to ask
Several basic questions should be asked before working with any designer.
- Do they design in vector? All modern designs should be created in vector format, as this makes them infinitely scalable. This means the same file will be crisp and clear whether used on a pinhead or on the side of a bus. Always ensure this is the case before working with a designer and avoid any archaic ones who don’t do this as standard.
- Which files are included? Check the designer will give you all relevant vector files in case you wish to make edits in the future. This is a must if you want to use your symbol for leaflets, ads, a different web theme, or anywhere really in the future. It should be non-negotiable that this is included in your order.
- Where is their portfolio? Ask to see it. If their past designs don’t blow you away, look drab or unprofessional, move on to a different designer straight away.
- Are they qualified? If a designer wants to charge professional prices, they should have a degree to demonstrate their expertise.
Receiving your order
When your designs are finished, it’s quite likely you’ll want to ask for revisions. Any good designer won’t have an issue with this, and hopefully if you’ve asked the correct questions from the outset, you’ll be working with a good designer!
Ensure you have all the files you’ll need before making your final payment:
- The original, editable file (i.e. AI) – this will work in Adobe Illustrator
- A vector EPS file in digital (RGB) format – this is the colour format needed for web display
- A vector EPS file in print (CMYK) format – this is the colour format needed for printing your design
- A web preview file (PNG, JPEG or PDF)
Bear in mind that you may want a copy of your symbol on its own alongside the name of your brand and maybe even in varying shapes. For example, while you may need it in a rectangular format and alongside the brand name for the header of your website, you may need it square for your Facebook main image. You may even just want the symbol on its own for your Twitter image.
Think carefully about where you’ll need to place your logo as a whole and as a lone symbol before finalising your order, as it will cost extra to get amendments made in the future if you don’t know how to edit a vector file.
USING YOUR NEW BRAND IDENTITY
The logo will usually appear in the top left corner in most modern WordPress themes, although there are of course exceptions.
If you have chosen a colour scheme for your logo, you may want this to run throughout the site, or you may want to add paler versions of the colours to complement the colours within the logo itself.
Be aware of the value of adding your symbol on its own to the favicon of the browser, so people can see it easily in their tabs.
Your logo should be used in all imagery added to your social posts as long as you have permission to do so. This will help your brand to get noticed, recognised, searched for and respected.
There is an excellent article written by our own graphic designer Darjan which further explains how brand identity fits in with affiliate marketing.
Also, take the time to read Rachel’s great article on brand personality.
Armed with the knowledge you will gain from these articles, you will be well equipped to begin branding your affiliate site with the goal of showing your visitors you are worth coming back to, and in turn increasing your sales dramatically!
Have you branded your affiliate site? Did your sales improve? We’d love you to share your experiences below!