Successful ecommerce stores don’t just happen: they tend to be built deliberately.
There are millions of competing stores online, so finding your sense of identity and appeal to customers is crucial in building your business. This is where branding comes in.
A brand encompasses several facets which help tell your business's story to the outside world. Well-executed branding can make a huge difference in terms of your visibility, customer acquisition, and overall profitability.
What story does your ecommerce business tell? Here’s how to set up your brand for success:
Branding refers to the overall identity of your business in the minds of your customers. It’s important to remember that it’s your customers who count here – you might have ideas about the story you’d like to tell the world, but do they match up with how the customer perceives you?
Branding encompasses aspects like your tone, voice, design aesthetic, pricing, product selection, logo, colors, mission, vision, and business name.
Why is this so important for ecommerce businesses? Because your branding can set you apart. Customers look for brands that appeal to them on some level, so you must do the work to catch their attention. Part of this is consistency with your branding – being consistent can lead to a 33% revenue increase.
When your brand is recognizable, people think of you and are more likely to become repeat customers. On the other hand, if you look just like competing businesses, you won’t be memorable and may lose repeat business.
Memorable, recognizable brands save a lot of money on their customer acquisition costs. This is because there’s a general awareness of who they are, so people gravitate toward them. Those customers will also tell other people about the brand. If you’re in casual conversation with someone and mention needing new wiper blades, there’s a good chance they’ll tell you to go to Napa, or another well-known auto parts brand.
You’ll find that recognition begets more recognition. Brands with a unique story and identity tend to get more press, more easily, and often get unprompted publicity from influencers and others online.
Lastly, another key benefit of branding for your ecommerce business is building lasting connections with people. Emotionally connected customers are reported to have a 306% higher lifetime value compared to customers who are merely “satisfied.”
Remember that statistic about consistency? It’s important to have a clear definition of your branding so that you can apply it consistently across all the channels that you use. When people see an advertisement, social media post, email, or content on your website, it should always be recognizable as your brand. It’s your voice, tone, aesthetics, and values.
How do you define your ecommerce brand? Here are some tips:
You’ve got to understand the market if you’re to make informed choices about branding your ecommerce business. There are a couple of primary things you should know:
1. Who is your target audience? Your audience isn’t “everyone,” it never is! You might have separate individual segments that make up your ideal audience, but you will have some people that are better suited to be customers and some that aren’t. Define that audience (including segments) as clearly as possible. This helps you to craft a brand that will appeal to them.
2. Who are your competitors? You’ve got to know who your direct and indirect competitors are so you understand what they have to offer, versus what you offer. How will you carve out your own audience? What will make you different? Do you see any gaps that will provide a competitive advantage for your brand and products?
Brand positioning is essentially about where you “fit” in the market. Are you a niche business, or a general store? Do you follow a depth or breadth strategy for your product assortment?
Target is about appealing to the mass-market, with a broad range of products across almost every category. You won’t find much in the way of “luxury” or high-end products because that’s not the market they predominantly serve.
On the other hand, the clothing and accessories brand Chanel is all about luxury. Their products are higher-end for people who prefer a more exclusive brand, and they often limit the number of items they produce in any given line.
Of course, those aren’t the only options out there. Some brands sit somewhere in the middle, perhaps focusing on a specific type of product or industry, with a few options across different price points.
People relate to a good story. Storytelling has been part of the human experience for millennia. Scientists have found that reading, listening to, or watching a good story causes our brains to light up in several areas, activating emotions, memories, and movement.
Brands should tell their story to engage with their audiences and help to build their visibility.
Consider how you will share yours in a way that appeals to your target audience. For example, consider these questions:
· Why, when, and how was your business founded?
· What problem/s do you aim to solve?
· Why are those problems important?
· What are your driving principles or values?
· What is your mission?
· Who are your people? (Team members, suppliers etc.)
If you want an example of a brand story that is well-told, check out
Warby Parker’s. This is a relatable story about what drove the founders to start the company, told with humor and an appealing tone.
Your tone and voice should be a genuine reflection of your brand, aspects that you will easily carry across your different communication channels. You should always sound like “you!”
Voice can be anywhere on a scale from irreverent to super-serious. Poo-Pourri, creators of odor-masking toilet spray, are an example of a very irreverent tone, with their humorous videos. At the other end of the scale, you’ll often find insurance companies or banks. It’s about being appropriate for the audience and the product or service – people wouldn’t trust an irreverent bank with their money!
Your aesthetic is the overall “look” you present to the world. Aspects such as your logo, brand colors, product photography, and social media presentation go into your aesthetic.
Similar to tone, your aesthetic can range from playful to serious. Color is associated with various states or emotions, although it’s important to be aware that these vary across different cultures. Ignyte Brands has a good color psychology explanation here.
Here’s a quick checklist of tips for branding your ecommerce business:
- Be authentic. Craft a brand that is really “you.” People respond to authenticity – pretending will wear off eventually.
- Create branding guidelines and follow them. Your guidelines should be made up of the aspects we’ve already discussed in this post. These will help you to have a consistent approach across all of your channels and make it easy to share your brand with anyone new on your team.
- Define your aesthetic and be consistent. Looks really matter in the ecommerce business. Customers can’t physically walk into your store, so you must craft an experience for them online.
- Work to update anything that is “off-brand.” If you’ve got old content out there from before you defined your brand, try to either remove or update it for your current branding.
If you want to build a lasting ecommerce business, branding is an important step. Your brand can be your point of difference, and a reason for customers to support you. It helps you to gain visibility and a unique section of the market.
There are several aspects that go into branding, including your story, aesthetic, tone, products, and positioning. Do some background research into your target customers, your competitors, and opportunities in the market to help you determine the best approach to your branding.
Good branding will see you with a more successful ecommerce business and more repeat customers.