A good branding can make or break your business – if people trust you, they will return spend even more money with little cost on your side for their acquisition. If you fail to present your store to your audience in a way that immediately gets their attention, they will leave and many of them will never come back. That’s why you need to brand your eCommerce website – and there’s more to it than having a fancy domain name and logo.
Why you need a brand for your store
With hundreds or even thousands of competitors around, branding can be your number one way to distinguish your store from the crowd. To no surprise. We all like to buy at places that we like, trust, and which we quite often associate with certain emotions. These feelings are one of the reasons why the majority of people chooses to buy at branded stores, instead of shopping at unknown venues they know nothing about.
But there’s more than that. Do know what you should do to be able to sell your products at a higher price point than your average competitor? Brand your eCommerce website. Not only that – if people learn your brand and remember it, they will more eagerly recommend it to others, providing you with free word of mouth marketing. Not to mention that a good brand can skyrocket your store’s value, should you be looking to flip it.
And why you shouldn’t start your store by branding it
At least not until you know and understand your customers. When doing any substantial changes to your store and business plan, you should always think about two things. Your company’s profitability and your clients. Usually, the satisfaction of customers goes hand-in-hand with your store’s revenue. That’s why when you are working on branding, you can’t just take things that you like and put them all together. That would be guessing, and in business, it rarely pays off in the long-run. Your brand should be designed with your customers in mind because it’s your clients who will be shopping at your store.
That’s why it’s so important to understand who your customers are. And the best way to do that is by narrowing down your potential customers and creating a buyer persona. This way, you can brand your eCommerce website in a way that your audience members will love and eagerly associate with. This also increases the chances that many of them become your loyal customers. Naturally, as long as you take care of other branding principles.
Brand your eCommerce website like a pro
Creating a brand is a process that most of the time gives you two results – it either works, or it doesn’t, there’s nothing in the middle worth fighting for. That’s why it’s important that you do everything right. Preparing your brand step-by-step is the best way to getting a store your customers will love coming to. Let me start by showing you some examples of those steps on the website you already know – which is the site you are reading this article at:
Unique brand name and logo – the most basic elements most people associate with having a brand. When choosing a logo, make sure it’s simple, memorable, looks good in one colour and in different sizes (you might want to use it on a billboard one day), and, naturally, timeless.
Theme colour of the site – as you can see, I chose green which is associated with learning. It’s used both in the logo and website elements.
The site is mobile responsive – lots of my site visitors like to use mobile devices, what allows them to give it a read in bed or on the go.
I am an eCommerce professional and a real person – that’s why I use a real image in my portfolio. This allows me to develop trust of my audience
The site is far from being static – both the general idea, as well as the content, evolve as I learn more about my audience and their needs
I chose personal writing style – this way my readers can establish a rapport and the information retention rate is slightly higher compared to a dry theoretical writing which you can find in most books.
A similar style in all blog post banners – many websites don’t pay attention to the type of graphics that they use. If you use too many different types of images, your site will look bad. That’s why it’s worth sticking to one or two at most (I love vectors):
As you can see, the style of your website is the first thing that allows you to brand your eCommerce website. But there’s a lot more to branding than that. Let’s jump right to the foundations of your brand.
The Core of Your Brand – Your Unique Value Proposition
Every store has this one thing which makes it stand out from the crowd. If chosen well, your unique value proposition can become a quality immediately associated with your brand by your audience. There are many things which can be part of your UVP. Some of them are quite popular, such as:
Free delivery and generous return policy. Example – Zappos:
One-Day shipping. Example – Amazon:
Amazing Customer Service. Example – Firmoo (review taken from trustpilot.com, there are even more just like the one below):
Of course, while it might be too expensive to offer one-day shipping or a free delivery, amazing customer service should be one of the things people are reminded of when they think about your brand. But it shouldn’t be the only one – quite often, it may not be enough.
An excellent example of a business model that became quickly associated with the brand and slightly disrupted the eCommerce market when it first gained traction is the one of Dollar Shave Club. While they weren’t the first eCommerce store to offer subscription-model, their clever advertising, as well as branding elements such as great packaging, language, and the fact that their customers became “members” of a club, made them one of its flagship examples:
Your brand and perceived value
The example of Dollar Shave Club is worth noting not only because they used a subscription model to great success, but also because they managed to enhance the perceived value of their products in a way that made their offer irresistible. This is something every brand should strive to achieve. There are many ways in which you can do that, and which can differentiate your store and become an important part of your brand:
High-Quality product pictures. Images can sell a lot more than words. Thanks to big screen sizes of their smartphones, people can now view and shop products on the go. And they are not interested in seeing small, blurry images. As you can guess by the growth of social networking platforms such as Pinterest or Instagram, nowadays it’s all about visual content. For example, images of your products in use, can inspire action and create the feeling of intense desire:
In fact, images can be so powerful that your whole store identity could be based on product photos. An excellent example of this strategy is an Australian store Blanki, which sells knitted blankets and cushions:
Write engaging descriptions of your products. Even though the visual content is perceived as more valuable than the text, product descriptions are still necessary. Many online stores underestimate their power, and yet they are an excellent way to differentiate your brand and increase the perceived value of your products (tip: read this post to learn how to write awesome product descriptions yourself:
High-quality website design. For descriptions and images to work well together, you need a store that’s designed with your customer and your product in mind. There are different layouts and templates which you can use, but not all of them work well with all types of products. For example, big images and a lot of whitespace or light background work perfectly for a brand selling expensive products:
Another great example of a completely different design that emphasises the brand is that of the dairy fairy, an online store selling bras and accessories for breastfeeding mums. The light background colour, together with photos of mums with their babies, is an excellent way of sparking strong emotions:
By using the right design, high-quality images and engaging product descriptions, you positively influence your brand and make it more valuable – perceived value generates actual value, whether it applies to your goods or your brand. As you can see, each of those designs was focused on creating the right emotions – which are the next important aspect of every brand.
Every brand needs to generate emotions
Have you noticed that most ads on TV are no longer just focused on selling but rather on playing on your emotions? This is because the stronger the feelings that are associated with a particular brand, the easier it will be for it to sell you something. There are a few emotions which you should use when you brand your eCommerce website:
Every brand wants to be desired by its customers. Think of what your customers’ desire, would be jealous about, and include it in your message. For example, if you are selling sporting goods, your message should be focused on turning your customers into healthy and fit individuals.
Having a brand increases the trust of your clients for your store in itself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work your way to increase it even further. Security badges, trusted payment processors and a good return policy are nowadays close to being industry-standard. That’s why it’s worth focusing on something extra – let your customers feel that you’re honest with them.
Don’t try to act as a big corporate store. Instead, share customer stories with your audience, interact with them and help them in making good product choices – the first step towards becoming their go-to expert.
In eCommerce, this works best when you surprise your customers in a positive way once they make a purchase. Add something extra to their order or create a unique, personalised packaging they did not expect. While it won’t help you generate sales the moment you implement this technique, as your customers spread the word about the surprise with their friends, they’ll attract a lot of extra traffic to your store.
Some online stores prefer to be straightforward about their products while others try to make their customers curious each time they interact with the brand. This may be done with the use of the right graphics, logo and marketing message. Naturally, this technique works best if it manages to spark curiosity both in your first-time visitors as well as in recurring customers (what can be achieved, for example, using the right email campaigns).
Ignore others and be consistent
Naturally, depending on your buyer persona there will be certain things which you will use to brand your eCommerce website, and which were not mentioned here. Whatever you do, make sure that you brand your site for your customers – and no one else. Don’t try to please everyone, as this is impossible, and stay consistent in your branding efforts. It might take months or years before you find the right message. But as long as you are working on it, you keep increasing the value of your brand and your store in the eyes of your customers.