How do you create a brand for your eCommerce store?
💡 Quick Answer: Creating a brand for your eCommerce store involves a strategic process. Start by defining your target audience and determining your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Develop a distinctive brand voice and visual identity, aligning them with your established brand values and story. Choose an appropriate eCommerce platform and implement your branding consistently across all customer touchpoints. Regularly monitor and adapt your brand, considering brand mentions, competitor activities, and industry trends. Utilize tools for brand monitoring and stay adaptable to ensure your brand remains relevant and resonant in the ever-evolving eCommerce landscape.
Two salespeople are trying to convince you to buy their product. Both are selling a bag of similar quality, design, and price. One of them says their bag is made from recycled materials and part of the sales will go to charity. The other simply says their bag is beautiful and nice.
Which one are you buying?
Look, beautiful and nice are good descriptions for a bag—they may be good enough to get some people to buy. However, vague adjectives won’t win out when the competition is talking about saving the world.
This is not about using altruism to sell products—it’s about compelling prospects to purchase a product and buy into the brand. It’s the difference between people saying, “I have a bag” and “I have a Gucci.” The latter is on a whole new level.
The people behind the most popular brands in the world worked very hard for the prestige. After all, branding isn’t bestowed; it is created.
That’s what we’re here to discuss—how to create a brand for your online store.
Some may ask: Is eCommerce branding even needed for online stores? Actually, online stores may need it even more. According to Forbes, there are over 24 million ecommerce sites right now. With so much competition, your brand needs to stand out to succeed.
What is eCommerce branding?
Ecommerce branding is the process of creating an identity for your online store.
What makes a brand easily identifiable? To begin with, it should have a logo, tagline, theme, mission, and vision.
Branding must be well thought out and representative of the audience most likely to be attached to the brand and its products or services.
Why is eCommerce branding important?
Just as every person has an identity, so should a company. And this identity should resonate with their target audience, leading to sales and a long-lasting relationship.
Here are some of the reasons why online stores must take branding seriously:
A brand with a clear identity leaves an impact on its audience, making it more memorable.
It’s like when anyone sees a giant yellow M from afar—they know instantly that it’s a McDonald’s. Not just any fast food restaurant, but the successful chain that’s served billions.
Good branding delivers a consistent voice, whether it’s your online store or social media accounts. Audiences must get the same message across all platforms—studies show that consistent branding could lead to a 33% increase in revenue.
Brand messaging enhances connections with customers. Why do people continue to line up at Starbucks? Because many have developed loyalty to the brand that has proven to be efficient and is keen on rewarding its most ardent customers.
Key components of branding
A person’s identity is layered and complex. The same goes for a brand. Here are the critical components of effective branding:
- Values - brands need a set of values to internalize and represent. And consumers who share the same values will be connected and invested.
- Identity - distinct visuals instantly identify products of a certain brand, such as logos, color palettes, and other design patterns.
- Unique selling proposition (USP) - to rise above the competition and stand out, brands must showcase their USP and emphasize what makes them different.
- Messaging - when you hear the phrase, “Just do it,” you know exactly what brand is being referenced. A unique tagline or brand promise must be prominently featured in all marketing endeavors.
- Brand experience - another element to emphasize is the brand’s relationship with its supporters and how customers will benefit from buying in.
How to create a brand for your eCommerce store
Developing a robust and effective eCommerce brand is a complex process that involves the following:
Define your target audience
Identifying your target is one of the first things to do when creating your brand identity. Who are you targeting with your messaging?
The following steps will help narrow down your audience:
- Determine who typically uses your products or services. For example, if you sell infant toys, your target audience consists of parents across varying age groups, income levels, and other demographics.
- Zero in on the demographics to understand your core audience. Be specific about your target: location, age range, profession, etc.
- Identify the people who can afford your products or services in terms of income level. Are you targeting students, minimum wage earners, business owners, or top executives?
When you know your target audience, you can create a target persona or a fictional profile of your market. This will make it easier for you to develop your brand identity, messaging, and values.
Determine your unique selling proposition (USP)
Consider a steak. Even when cooked perfectly on its own, it can be bland. Steak needs salt and pepper and other spices to make it pop. Think of USP as the additions that make your company “flavorful” and worth buying into.
Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty had a remarkable entry into the makeup industry. People may have thought, “What does a singer know about makeup products?” But the brand launched with 40 shades of foundation, providing the diversity that wasn’t there before. This has long been Fenty Beauty’s USP, and the other brands followed suit because it worked. Fenty Beauty is currently valued at $2.8 billion.
Develop your brand voice and personality
Brand voice is the distinct tone used when communicating with the public. It must be consistent across all platforms, from marketing copy to social media posts. It makes the brand instantly recognizable, and the consistency will grab people’s attention.
Wendy’s is a fantastic example. This fast food chain’s social media accounts are witty and roasty. It banters with direct competitors. Its Twitter account has gone viral many times over the years. And it works, because the majority of the people who eat fast food are aged 20 to 29 years old—the generation that understands and appreciates a fun online presence.
Develop your brand voice to mirror how your audience communicates. It should feel as if your brand is one of its own audience members. Don’t be afraid to shift your voice if it doesn’t work. Track your communications and evaluate audience response, then adjust and improve the tone as needed.
Brand voice must also reflect the platform. Wendy’s roasts may be fun on Twitter, but they are not a highlight on Instagram, which centers on visuals. Banter certainly doesn’t belong on professional LinkedIn accounts.
Design your visual identity
A brand’s visual identity can be represented in three ways:
- Color palette
These must be representative of the brand persona and values. One of the most well-thought-out brand logos out there is FedEx. Are you familiar with the hidden meaning behind the logo? It seems to be just the company's name, but the white space between the E and the X showcases an arrow, indicating movement forward.
The official colors of FedEx are purple, orange, and white. It’s become so distinctive that anyone who sees these colors, even without the FedEx name, would know that the assets are from the brand. As for the typography or font, FedEx uses Futura Bold and Univers 67.
Color palette and typography are crucial when it comes to consistency. Even when the brand name doesn’t appear, but the color motif is visible, people will immediately identify it as related to the brand. And even when assets are in black and white, typography and tone must be distinct.
Professional designers vs design tools
You can partner with a professional firm to develop branding, or you can do it yourself. Both have their pros and cons.
For example, a professional branding firm has years of experience and tested skills—all members of its team know the best route to have great branding, regardless of the nature of your products or the size of your business. However, hiring a third party to handle all branding assets will cost a lot more because you will pay for their time and expertise. You also need to coordinate with them very closely so that your ideas will be integrated into the branding. Even if they are the experts, your knowledge of the brand and wishes for its future will still be implemented and worked toward.
If you don’t have the budget to hire a branding firm, you can use various tools to create logos and find color palettes. The best part about DIY branding is that it is affordable, and you maintain complete control. However, if you have no background in branding, you need to do a lot of research to make sure you get it right.
What tools can help with logo design and other branding assets?
- Canva - it’s perfect for people with little to no design experience. The platform is easy to use and understand, and there are templates and guides for all your branding needs.
- Wix - this website builder comes with a complementary logo maker. It’s a fantastic option for entrepreneurs who want to build an eCommerce brand from scratch.
- Logo.com - this is a tool specific to making logos, and there are simple and functional ones that you can create and customize within minutes. It follows a freemium model.
Many online tools are quite easy to use, and they make branding easy and convenient.
Establish brand values and story
Industrial designers Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were roommates in San Francisco in 2007. They decided to put an air mattress in their living room and rent it out to earn extra income. They turned the living room into a bed and breakfast. A year later, Chesky’s former roommate joined the venture and made the website for the company they called AirBed & Breakfast.
The company is now called Airbnb. This origin story is very compelling and can be quite aspirational, and every brand needs the same. The best brand stories talk about a problem and the creators having the solution for it. Most importantly, it must be authentic to be compelling. In the digital age, no secret can be kept for long, so there is no sense in inventing a brand story to make things interesting. Consumers value honesty, after all.
Consumers also closely consider brand values. They prefer companies with advocacies, with 63% of survey respondents in this study saying they want to support companies concerned for the environment. This means that if all things are equal between two products, more people will buy from the one that is made from sustainable raw materials and with ethical practices.
It’s essential to find the right ideals to represent the brand. Some coffee companies source their beans from local farmers to provide much-needed support. Some brands donate part of their profits to charities representing their mission and vision. These endeavors must be considered carefully and continued throughout the life of the brand.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform
eCommerce platforms provide all the tools and features that sellers need to showcase their products or services, track sales, and manage their overall operations.
There are an estimated 24 million eCommerce platforms in the world. Popular examples include Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce, which cater to millions of sellers. How do you choose which ones to partner with?
- Check if the platform has all the features you need to create and manage your online store.
- The platform’s offerings should be cost-efficient and within your budget.
- You should be able to integrate your brand personality into your page, and shoppers should have a unique user experience—in other words, it should have a high capacity for customization.
- It must have top-notch security for sellers and buyers.
- It should provide reliable 24/7 customer service.
- The platform must be compatible with the sales, payment, and advertising channels you are already using.
- Business scalability must be simple and easy.
- The platform should translate to mobile well because more than 75% of American adults shop using smartphones.
Implementing branding across all customer touchpoints
Customer touchpoints are the times of contact between a prospect and the brand. For example, a potential customer may have seen a certain product from an ad and then proceeded to check out the brand’s social media account. The brand may reach out to the customer through a marketing email or newsletter.
There is a long list of possible touchpoints, and injecting branding into each opportunity for conversion is crucial.
To do this, you must list every possible touchpoint with prospects. There are three major touchpoints to consider:
- Pre-purchase - before the sale of a product, which includes touchpoints like advertisements, marketing assets, and more
- Purchase touchpoint - during the sale of the product, which includes direct brand communications and payment processes
- Post-purchase touchpoint - after the sale of the product, the brand should ask for feedback and ask customers to leave reviews on the site.
Brand communications don’t stop after a client purchases a product or signs up for a service. Nurturing a future relationship after that first conversion is incredibly important because customer acquisition is significantly more expensive than retention. Get in touch with customers for future promotions and new products. Invite them to exclusive online activities and offer rewards for their continued loyalty.
Monitoring and adapting your brand
Branding or brand strategy is a continuous process. It doesn’t stop at any point, and it is important to improve and update all strategies. To do this, you must closely monitor your brand’s online presence and activities. Fortunately, many tools can help make this easier for you.
What does brand monitoring entail?
You must track brand mentions across all platforms. If they are positive, you must share and hype them up. If they are negative, you should know whether to dispute them, reach out to the affected customer, limit their proliferation, or counter them with your future posts.
It’s a given that companies should monitor the activities and performance of their competitors. They should know related brands’ strengths and weaknesses. This will help avoid the same mistakes and improve on their tactics.
Competitors’ strengths could serve as inspiration on how a brand can gain audiences and deliver better services to customers, which are essential elements of long-term success.
Don’t get left behind. Always take note of the latest trends and innovations in your industry and eCommerce branding as a whole. The brand must be able to adapt to new trends quickly to remain in pace with competition or even outperform them.
Tools for brand monitoring
The good thing about modern eCommerce in the digital age is that there is an abundance of tools that could help you monitor brand mentions, your competition, and industry trends:
Customer feedback and reviews
These are the most obvious ways to determine if people are satisfied with your brand or if they are posting complaints. Look at every piece of customer feedback, and don’t take them for granted. These comments could be very insightful for the brand.
Social media tools
These online tools help monitor brand mentions through hashtags and keywords. You can calculate social media return on investment and sentiment analysis, which would provide better insight into overall impressions and how they can be improved.
Key performance metrics (KPIs) determine how well the brand is being perceived. Here are some KPIs you should keep track of:
- Social media mentions
- Brand awareness
- Brand sentiment
- Share of voice
- Purchase intent
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rate
A brand will only know about the success of its branding strategy after it is launched. There will be negative feedback and some positive ones. As a brand, you must know how to pivot immediately.
Here are some examples:
Stanley Travel Mug
This is one of the best examples of how a brand can make a fantastic branding move following viral exposure. A TikTok user, Danielle Marie Lettering, posted a video of her Stanley Travel Mug surviving a fire that obliterated her car. It was a testament to the exceptional durability of the travel mug.
The video made a star out of the Stanley brand. Soon after the initial video, company president Terence Reilly announced via TikTok that Stanley will replace Danielle’s car. This led to an even bigger viral moment.
Many people look forward to the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, where women, primarily white with slim waists, sashay on the ramp in their underwear and angel wings. But Rihanna– launched the underwear line Savage x Fenty that embraced diversity and body positivity. It was a hit, and Victoria’s Secret paused its fashion show to revisit its branding strategy. It was also forced to rephrase an ad titled “The Perfect Body,” which showcased its signature waif-like models, to “A Body for Every Body.”
It’s hard to imagine that McDonald’s experienced a dip in sales at any point. But it did in the 2000s, mainly due to a documentary called Super Size Me. Director, producer, and star Morgan Spurlock ate only McDonald’s food items for an entire month. If the staff asked him to supersize his order, he agreed every time. By the end of the month, he was around 25 pounds heavier.
This project sparked a backlash against the fast-food chain, forcing it to phase out supersize options and offer salad selections for a more balanced diet.
Protecting your brand
You created the brand from scratch and watched it grow, and you need to protect its reputation moving forward. There are many ways to protect your brand, but let’s start with these five fundamental steps:
- Register your domain name.
- Trademark your brand name, logo, and tagline—some brands even do this for their font and color palette.
- Use branding any time you can: always include your logo in posts and other marketing assets, and use your tagline in communications.
- Monitor the brand’s mentions.
- Adapt in cases of negative feedback.
To sum up
Branding is crucial for eCommerce success, and it paves the way for longevity. Branding is the reason why Nike no longer has to put its name on every product—the Swoosh would do. It’s why people say they are buying an Hermes instead of a bag from Hermes. More importantly, it’s why people line up for hours to buy a new iPhone on the day of release.
When you do branding well, people won’t mind spending a lot of money on your products or services. However, this only works when you have a product that is worth selling and buying.
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