What Does Branding Mean?
Successful branding for eCommerce isn't just about the products that you’re offering. It's also about the intangible things that consumers feel when they visit your site.
Done the right way, successful branding for eCommerce will attract new customers, and retain the existing ones so that your business steadily grows and compounds its success.
Branding is business, combined with aspects of aspiration, engagement, and familiarity. It encompasses online presence, products, and services.
The best-branded companies excel amongst others because their customers purchase not only the products and services, but also the brand's story. So, ask yourself:
Are these 'Just' a pair of shoes-- or something more?
The Big Brands Have Got it Right
There is no doubt about it: big brands focus on the entire shopping experience. They want their customers to feel happy during and after their purchase-- and looking forward to their next purchase.
Put some thought into your own brand, and how you would like to connect with potential customers. In other words, do not simply rush out a ‘neat’ logo and hope for the best! If only it were that simple...
Your brand's story doesn’t need to be anything grandiose or puffed-up. It could be as simple as talking about what inspires you to keep designing to appeal to your niche customers’ tastes and interests. Tell them in a sense how you 'get it', whatever that is. Look for common ground with your target audience– and weave that into your narrative. If you can make a connection with your ‘people’, you’re onto something! Don't let that go.
So, optimal branding comes down to getting to know your customer: their lifestyle, aspirations, pain points, and objectives. Your overriding aim is to deliver great value to them, and to keep on adding value. You do this by choosing quality suppliers, regularly offering new products, and maintaining top-notch customer service all the way through the customer life-cycle.
You want to build a consistent journey for all of your customers and the best way to do that is to get to know them better and to understand why they're purchasing your products in the first place. Social media channels, reviews, Facebook ads…When is the first time they see your products? What do you think is their first impression? Does it align with the mood and personality that you are trying to set for your brand?
For example, if your target niche is pro-healthy living and you're all about posting funny hangover memes on your business’s Facebook page – will that serve your business? Your ideal audience?
Turn-on, or turn-off?
My point is this: Don't take any detours from the message that you want your eCommerce business to convey. You can’t afford to lose your focus when it comes to your ideal customer, or they won’t be focused on you as their problem solver. Your brand values need to align internally as well as externally for you to serve your customers better.
We’re not saying don’t have fun with setting out your brand’s stall, by all means do! Just keep on-point with your message, aiming it toward what your niche audience expects to see. Setting clear expectations in the minds of consumers is how they visually and emotionally experience your brand and the value that you bring to them.
If your website was built hastily and riddled with with spelling errors in the product descriptions, would you purchase from you? What does that carelessness say to potential customers? Remember, they will also be trusting you with their valuable personal data and payment details. Does that put it into more focus?
If you listed a smattering of products that had no logical connection to each other or your niche, what would make you think that you could sell a product at a high price tag? Or even at the medium-priced range? The whole theme of your eCommerce store would be watered down, cheapened. And nobody trusts that which is cheap-looking. A low-quality website may pop up, and believe it, plenty do-- but they don't survive the public's discerning eye for quality and trustworthiness.
Giving it a miss...
The visual representation of your brand showcases a lot on how you view business, your customers, and how the company is run. You don’t want your eCommerce store to look like a fly-by-night scam site! People will run the other way, and rightfully so. Quality in all aspects is reassuring.
So spend the time building your store properly, and thoughtfully. Quality input gives quality output.
Create a Well-Functioning Website
Your target audience and your brand's look should connect, or 'jive'. Starting with the platform that you use: the color schemes, the fonts, everything that relates to your brand from a tangible and intangible perspective should also speak to your target audience.
Unlike a normal brick and mortar store, online stores and eCommerce brands mostly promote their products online. They need to look at their online marketplace as their storefront. You need to capture their attention, and make them want to come in, and stay awhile-- and ideally, make an easy purchasing decision!
Appearances are everything-- and more
What Do Your Customers Want?
Imagine what would happen to your business if you really took the time to consider your customers' passions and pain points. With a little thought, you could develop a website that matches the users’ expectations and experiences, and that allows your target audience to purchase from you with ease.
It will help with retention rate, it will help with upsells and multiple purchases, it will even help with partnership opportunities as you continue to grow. Just how exciting is that?
Building a Strong Brand Positioning Statement
In this exercise, you don’t want to mimic what the big brands are doing, or copy anybody. You want to find your own unique voice in the market. You could start by browsing subreddits, Facebook pages and review sites in your niche to uncover your potential customers’ likes and dislikes, and unmet needs in the marketplace. Ask: how could you do better?
You could also informally survey friends and family that might be interested in products like the ones that you’re selling. This is about building your brand’s focus and personality, which should always be crystal clear to your customers. Once you’ve found your focus, you will let that inform all other parts of your brand as you build it.
You will then start to configure a positioning statement. A positioning statement is one or two lines that state your claim in the market and that differentiates you from your competition.
Your positioning statement should go something like: “ We offer (product or service) for (target market) to (value proposition).” Example: We offer personalized baby clothing and accessories (product and service) to new moms and dads (target market) to celebrate your new arrival in comfort and style (value proposition). We take special pride in donating a portion of all sales to maternity wards in underprivileged communities".
A positioning statement shouldn't be viewed in the same way that you would view an elevator pitch or a tagline. Rather it's an internal opinion of who you are– and even better, who you aspire to be. Try thinking about your brand as a person, and the terms you would use to describe this person to a friend. It can help you identify the internal qualities you want your brand to have and reflect outwards.
How to Pick a Branding Color Palette and Fonts
The next time, you're browsing a popular brand, take the time to think about the colors that you're seeing.
You may start to notice that your favorite outdoor brands use very earthy color tones. This really gets you thinking about the outdoors, moreso than would ‘shouty’ neon colors, for example. We really recommend you using Coolors to discover a color scheme that works for you. All the guesswork is done for you, and there are so many exciting combinations either all done for you, or that you can generate endlessly.
Coolors allows you to grab hex codes to keep handy and sift through different shades to find the ones you like. Alternatively, you could also try using Adobe Color, which is free online and lets you apply different color harmonies.
So once you've picked a color palette, let's move on to fonts.You always want to try picking two fonts at the most, one for headings and one for body text. Any more than that can unnecessarily confuse your customers, and look messy and over-done.
Canva is an ideal source for ready-made font pairings, that are proven harmonious. So definitely check out that tool.
A beautiful book that I love to recommend is How to Style your Brand: Everything you need to know to create a distinctive brand identity, by Fiona Humberstone. It’s both informative and inspiring, and could give you a great many ideas for your own business. Prepare to get lost in it!
Be prepared to put some time and thought into your branding colors-- and have fun!
Advice For Designing a Logo
Once you have your colors and fonts decided,the next project is your brand’s logo.
As mentioned earlier, a company's logo is probably one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about building or recognizing a brand.
Now, think about the worst logo you've ever seen. Do you remember it? If so, what made it bad? If you're having trouble conjuring that memory, it’s not surprising.
A good logo ‘sticks’, and a bad one doesn’t. A logo should be viewed as a symbol that represents your brand and your brand's personality through the simplest image possible. Bad logos could be accused of ‘trying too hard’. Simple is always better!
When thinking about a logo, you really need to consider its every placement, as in, where it will be regularly seen and recognized. The brand's logo needs to appear on your website, in ads, on various social media platforms, right down to the favicon that pops up in your web browser tab.
Now, not many of us are designers, so by all means feel free to go for outsourcing on this important job. You could even do a few mock-ups and send those off to freelancers to help them get the ball rolling on your core ideas.
How to Create a Professional Logo for Your Business
You can outsource these for a low cost on Fiverr, Shopify's Expert marketplace, or you could even run a logo contest on 99designs. Have fun with it! Just make it worth your time and money and be 100% sure you’re happy with the end product.
And, never be shy about requesting revisions from designers, if that’s built into the package – which it always should be! A margin for correction is vital. You need to fall in love with your logo, not go away half-hearted with what’s ultimately going to serve as the beacon of your brand.
There is also Shopify’s Hatchful logo maker, and again, Canva offers a similar tool with plenty of pre-made logos that are easily modified to suit your brand name and colors. Perhaps these would suit your needs perfectly – so do give them a try, especially if you’re on a beginner’s budget.
Creating a good, solid logo is essential to your business
Reflect and Refine Your e-Commerce Store Branding
Lastly, when building a brand, it doesn't matter where you're at, there's always an evolution in the growth of every brand. Your brand may end up looking differently to what it was at the very beginning and that’s fine. But don't rush in to change it, either. Be sure at the start, let it settle, let it shine -- then give it a good chance to live and breathe before re-assessing. Remember, a brand builds trust so it needs to become recognizable first before you get restless and change it!
Please recognize that a business doesn't grow overnight. It takes time, resources, strategy, and analysis-- all on repeat. The key is to persevere, learn and re-learn vital skills, and adapt to market demands to drive forward momentum. A little self-belief never hurt, either. But that's another blog post!
Above all, I encourage you to enjoy the process, and look forward to the places where your very own brand may take you.
To moving forward,
About the Author
Dani Sherman, CEO at EcomGemini
Dani's been immersed in the online space for the past several years, and she knows what it takes to establish a presence on multiple eCommerce platforms. She would like to help you get started with your own dreams of running a successful online business. Her weekly blog focuses on all things Print-On-Demand and eCommerce. So, check back often to see what's new, and to be inspired!