What is a brand? Is it the colours you use on marketing materials? Is it what you say about yourself online? Perhaps it’s the relationship you have with customers? Well, the first thing to realise about a brand is that it all relates back to emotion. Rather than something you project, your ‘brand’ is all about how your company is received by consumers.
In recent years, we’ve come to realise that a brand is concerned with the values of a company. What you say can be a great way to signal your intent, but it’s what you do that really captures the attention of consumers. Although you can tell your consumers anything you want (while making all sorts of promises), you’ll soon be exposed if your actions don’t follow.
Can We Influence Our Brand?
While there are certain things we can control in business, there are others we cannot. For example, we can’t control how people feel about our brand. Yet, we can INFLUENCE them…and this is called branding.
Through various techniques (some of which we’ll cover today), we need to create a unique image and feeling in the consumer about our products and the company as a whole.
Of course, we’re dealing with the eCommerce world in this guide. Although much of the world has moved online these days, the same branding principles still exist. Consumers are still looking for a trustworthy business, you can still influence them with consistent branding, and you both can create a relationship that lasts.
Why Invest in Branding?
These days, forging a connection with customers can be the difference between success and failure in the competitive world of eCommerce. If a customer has a poor experience with you, or simply doesn’t come across your name while searching, they’ll fall into the arms of a competitor. Think about your own experience; have you ever had a poor experience as a customer and switched to another company? Most of us have.
Here’s why investing in branding is important;
- Create a Connection – Firstly, we have to aim for positive emotions inside our customers because this will lead to their return time and time again. If they have great experiences with your service, they’ll start to feel comfortable and have no need to go elsewhere. As we all know, returning customers make the world go around.
- Reputation – As we’re going to see, a key aspect of branding is using consistent colours and designs. If we think about the colour red, what brands spring to mind? Coca-Cola, Ferrari, McDonald’s, and others. Clever branding is the reason we immediately think of these companies just by looking at a colour. We’ll explain how you can do the same later.
- Customer Loyalty – If you’ve seen the queues of people outside Apple on the launch of a new iPhone, branding is a key reason the company is able to attract customers in this way. Apple and Android users don’t just enjoy using the products, they defend the brand name at all costs and will have fierce debates over which is better. Both Apple and Android have been able to instil this passionate emotion in customers.
- Develop a USP – Especially in the world of eCommerce, it’s hard to stand out (you don’t need us to tell you this!). Over time, branding and your USP will work in harmony. Whether it’s a better customer service than competitors or a higher quality, customers need to know why they’re choosing you and why they’re recommending your company to others; branding will help.
Branding Tips for eCommerce Companies
Now we know that we can influence how our brand is received and why this is important, the second half of this guide will focus on advice. How can you get started and create a brand that people trust and enjoy? Let’s take a look!
Develop a Brand Identity
First and foremost, you need to have the foundations in place. Earlier, we mentioned Coca-Cola and they are one of the greats when it comes to branding. After creating a logo and choosing their colour palette, they have stuck with this for many years. You don’t see them using red on TV ads and then blues and greens online. No matter where you encounter the brand, they use the same red and this is vital.
If you want consumers to know your brand and relate to it, make it easy for them. We recommend a simple logo and colour. Once you have these two in place, make sure they’re present everywhere. This includes;
- eCommerce Website
- Social Media
- Guest Blogs
When you’re consistent, the principles of your business can be linked to something (almost) tangible. Suddenly, consumers think, ‘that’s the brand that has great customer service’ or ‘they delivered really quickly last time’. When you keep changing your graphics and identity, you make it impossible for customers to build a connection between your brand and principles.
Know the Power of Colours
Sticking with the topic of brand identity for a moment, it’s also important to understand how consumers react to certain colours. Known as ‘colour psychology’, different shades will evoke different emotions, so this is an early opportunity to connect with customers (before you even communicate with them!).
For example, the following colours might generate such emotions;
- Red – Boldness, excitement
- Yellow – Warmth, optimism
- Green – Health, peace, growth
- Blue – Trustworthiness, strength
With the right colours, you’ll set your eCommerce brand up for success perfectly.
Stick to Your Core Principles
How do you want consumers to feel about your brand? What are your main selling points? Now you have the brand identity, you must always provide a brilliant experience for customers. Whether you want to provide the best customer service, the highest quality, or even a unique experience, you must always stick to these principles.
Over time, as more and more consumers use your eCommerce service, your USP will be linked to your identity and everything starts to come together.
Tell a Story
In terms of getting customers to connect with a brand, there’s no better tool than a story. As a narrative that explains your goals, vision, values, or even your mission, it provides people with a reason to choose you over every other service.
In years gone by, the most important aspect of a product was the price. If you were the cheapest, you would have a great chance of winning over consumers. Nowadays, customers are willing to spend more if it means supporting a company doing good in the world. For example, you might donate a certain percentage of profits to charity, recycle all waste, or use a manufacturing technique that’s considered ‘green’.
For example, we have Apple where the story is about visionaries transforming a market and continually improving the world of technology. With Tesla, we have a company investing in alternative energy and with a mission to fill the world’s roads with electric cars to benefit the environment.
Every company has a story, so don’t be afraid to tell yours. What’s your motivation for starting an eCommerce business? What’s your mission? Do you have goals outside of business? It’s natural to worry about ‘boasting’, but consumers don’t see it this way. If you support a local charity, make sure this information is available.
Start a Blog
If you’re like most eCommerce business owners, you’re wondering whether or not to start a blog. In our opinion, this is one of the best things you can do. Firstly, it affords you an opportunity to show the personality of the brand. With opinion pieces, you can really bring out your own character and this gives people another reason to choose your service.
Let’s say you sell knitting materials and equipment; a blog will allow you to educate readers too. You can provide advice to budding knitters and needle-workers, guides on certain techniques, product reviews, and more. Suddenly, you have trust and credibility in your market. People can see within seconds that you’re an expert on the subject.
In the early days of eCommerce, consumers couldn’t believe that they could have products delivered to their own doorstep; everything from books to beds could be delivered. Since there were only a handful of services, the business had the upper hand. Now the novelty has worn off and competition has grown, the consumer has the upper hand. Therefore, you need to personalise and make the customer feel special (not just another source of money).
For example, we recently used a service that offered branded packaging. While this might cost a little more, it improves the unboxing experience and there’s also a chance of a social share.
We can absolutely influence our brand through the process of branding. To improve exposure and create genuine connections with customers, your eCommerce business should develop a brand identity (and be consistent with it!), stick to core principles, start a blog, tell a story, and consider personalization. Another option is to outsource your eCommerce branding to a digital marketing agency.
Thank you for reading this introductory guide to branding for eCommerce companies; good luck, go get those customers this year!