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Elevating Your Online Store: 5 Steps to Effective Ecommerce Branding

ecommerce branding

As an active internet user, you will have likely bought numerous products from online stores and ecommerce websites over the years. You will have also discovered that there are ecommerce businesses that you prefer or feel a stronger proclivity to using, which is probably the result of how they make you feel rather than the products themselves.

Why does this happen with some ecommerce businesses and not others? The difference lies in branding. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of branding and the steps you should follow to help build a powerful brand in the competitive world of ecommerce. 

What do most ecommerce businesses get wrong about branding?

Branding is one of the most misunderstood business concepts out there. Many people think “a brand” is simply a logo, business name, online store, the products you sell, or what you write on your landing page, etc.

However, branding is so much more. In fact, all of these elements (name, logo, copywriting, etc.) should be guided by your brand personality and strategy.

Your brand is what you convey to your customers. It’s the words, feelings, and messages that come to people’s minds when they see your website, buy your products, or interact with your business.

Branding is not just limited to ecommerce. Branding is also about services, offline businesses, organizations, big corporations, and people as well (AKA personal brands).

You could say a brand is similar to a human being in that we not only focus on construct our outer appearance but also our inner essence that conveys our understanding and values. Putting effort into building both an outer appearance as well as an inner core that shapes how people perceive your brand is the key to becoming powerful in the world of ecommerce.

Why is branding important in ecommerce?

Even though the direct definition of ecommerce is “selling products through the internet,” ecommerce is no longer just about products. That’s because the world is now oversaturated with products, and there is very little chance that you’re selling something that doesn’t already exist somewhere.

While your products may be of better quality, show quicker results, or have a better price-quality ratio than those of your competitors, how do you prove that to potential customers without them first getting to experiment and use them?

Effective branding is the best way to attract people and convince them to buy from you. As feted marketing advertiser Dan Wieden once said: “People don’t buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”

Effective branding helps your target audience relate to your message, story, and eventually, your products. Let’s take a look at some statistics about the power of branding:

  • Maintaining brand consistency can contribute to revenue growth by 20%
  • 77% of people buy from brands that they perceive as sharing the same values
  • 64% of consumers want to feel connected to brands, and 49% expect brands to bring people together toward a shared goal
  • 64% of customers who feel connected to their favorite brands attribute that to shared values, while only 13% cited frequent interactions as a reason for having a relationship with brands
Build an e-commerce brand

Without branding, you have no connection or emotional link with your customers. Instead, you’re more akin to someone who has a few products and only rents a space to sell them. Your ecommerce activity is just a matter of transactions, not a well-established business with a message and purpose.

There is a huge difference between merely selling products in an online “shop” that you “rent” from a web hosting provider, and building a valuable ecommerce brand that you own and has a message and a meaning behind it.

Statistics show that 90% of ecommerce businesses fail. That’s to be expected given the majority of people launch their ecommerce businesses by looking for a winning product, creating an online store, and then advertising it without a story, message, or concept.

Yes, it’s possible to make good sales if the product is particularly popular and sought after, but it won’t last long, and you’ll have to search for another product, and so on. Without branding, you will lack direction and consistency for your ecommerce business. Without branding, you’re a seller, not a business owner.

How do you create a powerful ecommerce brand?

It’s important to put time and effort into building your ecommerce brand. People should associate your ecommerce activity with a set of positive feelings and messages, hopefully helping you to outperform your competitors and provide a competitive advantage besides the quality of your products, the price, etc.

What are the building blocks of an ecommerce brand?

The three main elements of successful ecommerce branding are the essence, the message, and the visual identity.

the key elements of e-commerce branding

Building a strong brand depends on first defining these elements. In this section, we’ll share some tips and exercises to set the building blocks of your ecommerce brand.

1# Identify your target audience

It’s impossible to build a strong brand without knowing your target audience. This is defined as the specific group of people who are likely to find value in your product and choose it over similar products in the market. 

To attract this specific group of people, you need to make your brand resonate with them. Even if you sell something that “anyone” can use, it’s impossible to create a brand that resonates with everyone and anyone.

The best way is to focus on a niche market and a specific audience and get to know them as much as possible. You need to answer the following questions:

  • Why does my target audience need or want my product? And how will my product benefit them and add value to their lives?
  • What does my target audience have in common?
  • What products do they use before they discover my product?
  • Where does my target audience get their information?

What is their preferred form of communication?

The point is to get as specific and detailed as possible. By knowing your target audience better than your competitors, you’ll be able to attract them and create a brand that resonates with them.

You can also do the buyer personas exercise to help you understand your target audience and what they look for in a brand.

2# Define the core of your brand (purpose, vision, mission, values)

These elements are the foundation of a strong brand, and they’re the key elements of every successful “About” page. Answer the following questions to define each element:

  • Purpose: Why does my brand exist?
  • Vision: What type of future do we want to create as a brand?
  • Mission: How are we going to create this future?
  • Values: Which principles guide our decisions as a brand?

By doing this exercise, you now have the essence of your brand, which is what people will connect with. Let’s take Casper as an example. Casper sells beds, but what makes it stand out from an online store that sells beds is the vision and purpose behind its commercial activity:

  • Purpose: We’re here to awaken the potential of a well-rested world
  • Vision: Bringing joy to a tired industry (we want the world to love sleep as much as we do)
  • Mission: We’re setting a new standard in sleep innovation

Let’s take a look at another example. IKEA is a business that sells furniture, but powerful branding has contributed to its success:

  • Purpose: We’re here to make a positive difference in people’s lives
  • Vision: Creating a better everyday life for many people
  • Mission: We offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them
  • Values: Simplicity, togetherness, cost-consciousness (click here to read the rest of their values)

Step 3: Craft your brand Story

We all know the power of storytelling. Around 73% of marketers believe that storytelling boosts the effectiveness of their content marketing campaigns.

Having a story for your ecommerce activity is an essential pillar for your brand. This doesn’t mean creating a fake story. It’s best to craft one from your experience, passion, and beliefs.

There are numerous ways to do that:

o   The story of building your ecommerce business, the struggles you had, and how you managed to launch it and spread your message to the world

o   The passion you have about your niche and what you sell, and using that to craft an attractive story for people who share the same passion with you

o   The struggle you had before discovering the solution that your business offers

o   Leveraging your desire to help society or protect the environment to turn into a story of how that desire led you to start your business

You can learn more about the storytelling techniques you can use to craft a good story that people will resonate with.

Step 4: Form your brand personality

Your brand personality is a set of characteristics and attitudes that appears in your marketing, communication, positioning, and when your business interacts with customers. It’s important to note that brand personality (and branding in general) is not a fixed thing; it should evolve and improve as your business grows.

To form your brand personality, you need to answer these questions and keep refreshing and updating your answers, asking each time:

·         Who are the people interacting with my brand, and how do I want them to feel?

This is the key to determining the attitude of your brand. For example, a skincare brand that wants all women to feel beautiful should adopt an attitude of “women empowerment,” while a lifestyle brand that sells planners may want to adopt an attitude of motivation, encouragement, and self-improvement.

·         What is my value proposition?

Your value proposition is a key element in your branding, and it’s also necessary when defining your brand personality. You need to put the necessary effort into defining your value proposition and creating its statement. Still, for the purpose of forming your brand personality, you can write your value statement this way: We help X (target audience) to achieve Y (vision) by offering Z (mission).

This short phrase condenses what your ecommerce business does, helps you to know which personality suits you, and how your brand archetype matches your activity.  

·         What are three to five traits that describe your brand?

Like a human being, your brand should have main traits that describe it. For example, a business that sells children’s toys may be described as “fun,” “playful,” and “curious.”

·         What are my competitive brands’ personalities?

Many ecommerce brands adopt a similar personality, so this is your chance to stand out.

Take a deeper look at your competitors and analyze their brand personalities. Profiling (similar to the buyer personas exercise) will help you to identify the personality and tone of each of your competitors and create your unique brand personality by creating a brand personality that you believe your market niche is missing.

·         What brands do you like and relate to? Which brands do you not like?

Look at the brands you like and have a relationship with, both in your niche and not. Figure out what those brands do to stimulate good feelings within you and learn which practices they adopt to achieve this brand personality. You can add those practices to your branding process to encourage the same feelings for your target audience.

Step 5: Create a solid visual identity

Visual identity is an important branding element. According to Reboot, using a signature color can increase brand recognition by 80%. Therefore, you should put effort into your brand visual identity as much as the brand essence and message. 

A good visual identity should be:

  • Consistent: Be the same across all platforms (brands that maintain consistency are 3.5 times more likely to have brand visibility)
  • Intuitive: Align with the previous branding elements we covered. It should come naturally, be intuitive, and complement your brand personality.
  • Flexible: Be able to adapt to the growth and any potential changes that may occur to your brand

The key elements of a brand visual identity are:

  • Logo: There are many types of logos. The main things your logo should be are simple, memorable, and reflect your brand personality. Statistics show that 42% of consumers see logos as a way to help convey a brand’s personality.
  • Colors: Brand colors depend on their personality and message because each color has a meaning and a feeling to convey. A good rule of thumb is to have one primary color and 2-3 secondary colors in your brand.
  • Typography: The fonts you use in your branding depend on many factors. For example, a beauty brand or home decor should adopt elegant fonts, while other brands should adopt practical or classical fonts.
  • Imagery: The images you use in your online store and social media pages are an important part of your branding process. Around 41% of US online shoppers say that image quality (and product descriptions) is a top-three reason when choosing where to shop.

Start branding your ecommerce business…

Investing time, effort, and money into creating a solid brand for your ecommerce business is worth it. Effective ecommerce branding reduces the cost of customer acquisition and improves customer retention, and the best way to brand your ecommerce business is to follow a holistic approach so you can have a consistent, impactful, and powerful brand.

For more tips on how to boost your ecommerce game, make sure to check back regularly on Alibaba.com Reads.

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