Making a brand stand out in 2018 is no easy task. There are estimated to be between 12-24 million ecommerce stores selling products on the web, but only a small amount — around 650,000 stores — are selling more than $1,000 dollars on an annual basis. So how can you make sure that your ecommerce store is one of the few that people know, trust, and return to again and again? One way: by creating an awesome brand. It’s easy to set up an online shop or buy a ready-made website, but if you don’t pay attention to ecommerce branding, you’re unlikely to create any revenue. Here’s what you need to know to ensure your brand is the best it can be.
What is a brand? The Basics of Ecommerce Branding
Branding touches everything that your business does: from product design, packaging, and customer service, to web presence, social media, and advertising You want to package up your business and present it to the customer in a format they can relate to. People often purchase products because of an emotional connection they develop with your brand — it’s certainly the key to repeat customers and sales. Before the web, successful branding was usually the preserve of large companies, but the internet is an equalizer, and now small stores can cheaply and effectively brand themselves, too. The most important thing that goes into building a successful brand is consistency. Think carefully about:
- Tone of voice. The tone of voice you use across all your communication channels, from product descriptions to social media, must be consistent. There are plenty of brands like Cards Against Humanity who have made a distinctive brand voice their commercial calling card.
- Typography is hugely important. Every typeface has a personality, so pick yours wisely! Especially in the luxury product niche, a good typeface can make all the difference.
- Color palette. Choice of color is a method of communicating your brand values without using words. Research has found that 60 percent of people will decide whether or not they’re attracted to a message based on color alone.
Canva’s color palette generator is a handy design tool.
- A good logo allows people to instantly recognize your brand, and should be simple, distinctive, relevant, and adaptable as you’ll need to use it both online and offline.
The Design & Brand Essentials You Need to Get Right
- Website design. Your website needs to instantly communicate what you want your customers to know about your brand. If you’ve bought a ready-made ecommerce website rather than built your store and branding from scratch, it’s crucial that you make design changes to reflect your brand message. Think about how you can crystallize your USPs (unique selling points) into a few core messages and hero images to keep your homepage design super simple and compelling.
- Content. Creating great content will position you as a trusted voice within your field and keep customers returning to your site. The best ecommerce blogs are genuine community hubs that put out lookbooks and other forms of engaging visual content. Just because it’s a blog, don’t restrict yourself to the written word.
- Social media & social design. Connecting with your customers via social media is an excellent way to speak to them directly and establish a relationship between your brand and your target audience. Creating a good impression will define how they think of you in the future. But you can also use social media to help guide design decisions on your own site. An Instagram-style product gallery or a Messenger chatbot can help bring your online brand up-to-date.
- Go mobile. 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last six months. In 2018, your ecommerce branding strategy must include a functional and well-designed mobile platform.
Ecommerce Branding Through Social Media
As mentioned above, social media is one of the best ways to communicate directly with your customers. Not every social channel is right for every brand, and it’s hard to maintain an effective presence on all of them simultaneously. It’s important to determine which ones will best help you reach your target audience, and put your effort into building up your brand presence there. Start by creating high-quality imagery that will help wow your social media followers, and come up with some loose brand guidelines for your social media interactions. In today’s world of social commerce, it’s important to sculpt a compelling social profile for your brand.
- With 1.2 billion users and counting, Facebook represents a potentially huge audience for your brand. For new ecommerce brands, Facebook advertising is an absolute no-brainer. It’s one of the cheapest and fastest ways to seed your brand with potential advocates.
- Communicating in bite-sized chunks in real time allows for personable and casual interactions – a great way to demonstrate your brand persona. Some brands have leveraged Twitter incredibly successfully to build relationships and brand awareness.
- Visual content is critical and Instagram offers a unique opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality. Instagram has on average 58% more engagements per follower than Facebook, so it offers a huge opportunity for any rising ecommerce stars who want to capitalize on their visual content strategy.
- YouTube might not seem as important for an ecommerce site, but it can be a great tool for driving engagements and sales. Sell gadgets? Make some ‘how to use’ videos. Run an online clothing store? Create videos with accessory advice. Videos can be very cheap and simple to make, whilst offering unique and valuable content to your customers that’s easy to break down and share on other social media sites, and embed on your website.
Measuring Your Brand’s Success
Once you have built your brand, you need to know how well it is performing. As well as one-on-one feedback and customer interviews, get to grips with some core metrics that will help you adjust and tweak your strategy. Here are a few core data sets to focus on when it comes to your online store:
- The success of your referral programs — is this a brand people are happy to share with friends & family? Your NPS (Net Promoter Score) should also help here.
- Affiliate sign-ups — are other people happy to sell your products online?
- Subscriber growth rate — is your email marketing helping grow your brand community?
- Repeat purchase rate — are people coming back to you? Look at your churn rate as well (the % of customers who only ever buy once).
- Reviews — both quantity and quality. Are you failing customers somewhere along the line?
- High bounce rates and low dwell times could be a sign of poor brand design. Revisit problematic webpages and features to ensure you’re refining your user experience.
There are many tools available in 2018 to help you create a popular brand, but you still have to put in the legwork when it comes to the strategy and design side. Incredible ecommerce branding is the greatest competitive advantage your new company can have, so it’s crucial to dedicate time and effort into building your brand.
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Victoria Greene is a writer and brand consultant. Her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, is packed with tips for small business owners looking to turn over a new leaf for 2018. She’s also a huge fan of low-cost guerrilla marketing and brands that talk to their customers like actual humans!