This article has been written for retailers and Ecommerce and Marketing and Product Managers in ecommerce, to give you all our best insights into how branding works within ecommerce, and what you can do to dial in your brand to achieve more online sales.
We say this often - “Ecommerce has a lot of moving parts.” It’s true, and when a founder, or ecommerce manager is working alone, or with a small team, which is so often the case, they are juggling product development, fulfilment, social media channels, marketing, packaging, branding, and more. And at the same time trying to evolve their ecommerce systems to drive growth. It’s a lot.
So, we’re here to help give clarity and share some of our knowledge that comes from specialising in ecommerce and working with all sorts of brands, selling the widest variety of products across sectors including Fashion and Accessories, Health and Fitness, Home and Garden and Food and Drink.
The power of branding
Hello ecommers. If you're diving into ecommerce for the first time, or driving growth for an established online retailer, you've probably heard about branding, and hopefully you’ve considered its importance for your business. This is not just about logos and style guides. Your branding can be the secret sauce to selling more stuff and building a loyal community of customers who LOVE your business, BECAUSE of your brand. That’s powerful, so tune in, and let's chat about how to make your ecommerce branding part of your pathway to greater ecommerce success.
Branding for ecommerce
The reason branding and communication is so important in ecommerce is because there is no direct human engagement in the sales process. Your website has to do everything, from making the customer feel welcome and introducing the personality of your brand and what you stand for, to creating great shopping experiences.
The process of online shopping is different. It’s faster, with impatient customers who all have a million alternatives at their fingertips. So let’s look through some key factors that are specific to branding for ecommerce businesses.
Ecommerce customers are fast moving and impatient, as we all are when we’re scrolling our devices and socials. We browse quickly and our attention spans are short. People shopping online want to find the right information, and products, quickly. If they don’t, they move on.
To grab attention and engage, you need to make the right statements, fast. The right photography, headline and key benefits statements can achieve this for your business.
Is your website making it clear what your business offers, and why you are great? These messages are central to your brand identity.
Try This Today - Ask a stranger to give you some feedback on what they feel and learn from your store’s home page. Getting fresh eyes on how your brand communicates and the key take aways it gives your site visitors should give you a valuable reality check.
Good branding and communication has always been about grabbing people’s attention, fast.
Ecommerce means that capturing customer attention quickly is more important than ever. Your brand comms and messaging has the potential to attract that attention, from the people who are most likely to want your products. But you have to get it right, and that means focussed messaging, delivered with a special tone of voice, with consistency across all channels.
To achieve this, make sure that the images and statements mentioned above are developed based on an understanding of your best customers, and what they want from your business. Use that understandaing to be relevant to your ideal customer. Use a language style and tone they will relate to, and focus on the benefits they are searching for, without being too ‘salesy’.
Try This Today - Reality check the statements on your home page. Have they been written specifically for your ideal customer? If not, re-write them so they have focussed relevance for the person that will most likely want to buy your products. And then build out more relevant comms from there.
In ecommerce, engagement is crucial - It means grabbing attention with direct and relevant messaging. Then you can bring customers further into your website to learn more, browse products, and then purchase.
Your aim should be to always make it clear that it is your brand the customer is dealing with, and having great experiences with, through the whole process. In this way your brand defines the ‘experience’ your shoppers have. Positive experiences online will bring your customers back, and get them talking to their friends about your brand. It is your brand that can move the process from being cold and transactional, to a personal connection between customer and business.
This is all about delivering great customer service online, and that service delivery starts and ends with brand engagement.
Try This Today - Take a look through your site. Is your visual branding consistent and meaningful? Are the photos beautiful? Is your content right for the people who will make your best new customers?
3 benefits branding can deliver
Let’s take a look at three real and compelling benefits that good branding can deliver to any ecommerce business and online store, including yours!
These three are a starting point, there are many others, so let’s start right here, right now.
Trust & Loyalty
A strong and relevant brand can create real ‘friendships’ with customers, based on trust and loyalty. Those are some powerful words to use about a customer / business relationship. Your brand can create those relationships with strength, relevance and consistency to build trust and keep customers coming back for more. When people love and trust your brand, they are far more likely to buy for the first time, come back for more, tell their friends and share the good news in their socials.
You may not have considered this, but a powerful brand that creates a consistent vision can charge more for their products, based purely on the perception people have of the brand. Think about some ‘premium brands’ for a moment, in fashion, cars or cosmetics… People are happy to pay a little (sometimes a lot!) more for products from brands they relate to and love and trust. 90% of shoppers say they will pay more for products from a brand they believe in. If you need a dollars reason to strengthen your brand, this is it.
Ecommerce and the ecomm tech landscape is constantly changing with new trends emerging and old ones disappearing without trace. A solid brand with a consistent vision can have longevity and maintain visibility in a constantly changing landscape. If you’re into your ecommerce business for the long term, investing in your brand is one of the safest bets you’ll ever make. You haven’t seen Nike change their ‘swoosh’, or Maccas change their ‘golden arches’ lately, have you? ;)
Crafting your ecommerce brand strategy
Reality check - ‘Crafting’ or building your brand and brand strategy may not be a walk in the park. Like anything good, it takes direction, focus, and some work. Think about building your brand in the same way as you shape your personality and let’s take a look at these four steps - Some simple and clearly defined stages that you can follow to apply best-practice thinking to your ecommerce brand today.
ID your target audience
To be effective, your brand and messaging needs to resonate with your target market - The humans who are most likely to like your brand and buy your products. So the best starting point is to clearly define who your audience is.
Take a close look at your customers' traits and behaviors and start to build a profile, or an ‘avatar’ of one person who represents your ideal customers. Get stuck into data, surveys, and market research, and read past reviews and customer feedback - You’ll uncover all sorts of insights into how your customers think, what are their challenges, and how your brand and products can help them and make their lives better. When you have a clear understanding of the person who is your ideal customer, start to use that knowledge to change your logo, images, language, tone, key messages, and even your products, to suit those people.
With around 2.5 million businesses using Shopify alone, the world isn’t short of online stores, so your business needs to cut through to stand out. Yes, you can do that visually with name, logo, colours and imagery. And finding a unique or unusual way to ‘position’ your brand will also help your business stand out from the crowd.
Establish your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) - This is what makes your business and brand different and unusual in your sector, and gives your target audience something to understand and remember about your business. Your USP might be based on your product niche, unique materials or production techniques, or your focus on a specific set of people. Think about the values of your business, your best selling products and take a look at the ways in which your competitors position themselveves.
Vision, values, voice & visuals
You can these 4 ‘V-Factors’ to find your USP. Think of them as a ‘direction finder’ for your brand, they can give your customers reasons to engage with your business and form a deeper connection that goes beyond the products you sell.
Your Vision is about why you are in business and where you want to take your brand.
Your Values are the ethics by which your business operates, and how you treat your customers and community.
Voice is about the tone of voice your brand uses when it communicates, it might be cold and clinical, warm and friendly, formal, funny. Choose a tone that fits your brand, products and is right for your ideal customer.
And finally, Visuals are a little more obvious - The colours, fonts, photos and graphics that bring your brand to life. Choose these carefully as key communication tools that need to be attractive and relevant to your ideal customer.
When you have your brand identity locked in, it’s time to share it around. Start with your team and suppliers and then bring in your wider community of partners and suppliers. Create a brand identity style guide that documents the rules of your brand, and your reasons for those rules. When people understand the foundations of your brand, your vision and values and what you are trying to achieve, they will engage and want to join you for the ride. Clear brand guidelines gives your business and team the tools they need to get your marketing and comms exactly right across all channels.
Boost your ecommerce brand
Consistency is key
Consistency is crucial. Maintain consistent visuals and messaging across all channels, because repetition drives recollection and retention. Forbes says brands that stay consistent earn up to 23% more. But here’s a reality check - 60% of people in business say their content doesn't always follow their own brand guidelines. Learn from their mistakes and get your brand into the 40% who do follow their own brand rules.
Customer service and experiences matter in ecommerce, and your customer support team is the face of your brand. Take the time to make sure they understand your brand’s mission, values, and tone of voice. This means that your customers get a consistent experience with your business, with your brand shining through at every customer touch point.
Brands with purpose
Research shows that people are four to six times more likely to back purpose-driven brands, and this brings us back to your Vision and Values. Put your mission and values front and center so your customers can get on board and become advocates of your brand and business. Customer referral programs and social media contests are awesome for getting your customers to spread the word.
Awareness of your brand has to extend far beyond your online store. Think big and multi-channel with your marketing, and as you do, remember the rule about consistency. Work on a strong SEO game with a constant focus on organic search, and paid when it is working and fits your budgets. Establish social media channels in the platforms where your ideal customers spend their time, and experiment with paid social campaigns. Remember, your store can only succeed when it is attracting the right sorts of traffic and if they can arrive already engaged with your brand, they are more likely to convert more quickly.
Ecommerce is making branding more important than ever, so step back and take a look at your brand.
Thanks for reading, we hope you have some strong directions to follow to improve the relevance and power of your ecommerce brand. Stay focussed on these keys areas, find the weak spots in your business’s brand, and start with improving those. You’ll be in a better position if you follow these factors:
Branding for ecommerce:
- Impatient people are moving fast & want efficient communications
- Attention grabbing is crucial & your brand can work hard at this
- Customer engagement is the first step to conversion & retention
3 branding benefits:
- Trust & loyalty can be built based on your brand
- Charge more with a brand that people love & value
- Longevity is a benefit of well-conceived brands that have meaning
Crafting your ecomm brand strategy:
- ID your target audience
- Cut through & stand out
- Vision, values, voice & visuals
- Share with your team & community
Go ahead and implement key tactics to improve the power and efficacy of your ecommerce brand. You will find that these elements have the power to increase engagement, conversion and retention and therefore increase your revenue from online sales.
The ecommerce experience we have accumulated by working with founders, business owners, retailers, ecommerce managers, marketing managers and product managers since 2010, is here to help you and other ecomm professionals, to discover and implement strategies, solve technical challenges and drive growth,
We encourage all ecommers to get the knowledge they need to understand the best options and opportunities for their businesses, and bring them to life to drive ecommerce revenue growth. Go well!!