Branding is more than just a logo or your name or sending out occasional press releases. It is a business strategy that is mixed with emotion, engagement and expectation that encompasses your business as a whole and is integrated in every aspect of your business.
It gives you a competitive advantage; think of big brands like Apple, Microsoft, Prada, Tiffany, or Man Crates etc. Why do people purchase their products despite the big prices attached to them? Because they all have a story that connects the buyers emotionally with the brand. And that’s branding.
eCommerce and Branding
As an eCommerce business, it pays off to build a powerful online brand, especially as this industry is set to evolve and expand. Consider these following data:
- The global digital buyer penetration is expected to reach 63 percent in 2019; it was 58.3 percent in 2016 and by 2021, it is expected to reach beyond 65 percent globally.
- According to Forrester Research’s 2016 report, eCommerce sales are likely to have an average annual growth rate of 9.32 percent over the next five years and by 2020, consumers in the U.S. alone will spend around $523 billion online.
- The same report also found that 270 million buyers will be browsing eCommerce stores and making online purchases by 2020, which will be mainly driven by mobile devices.
It is therefore safe to say that the eCommerce boom is already upon us.
But there are so many eCommerce businesses out there and you need to stand out to be successful. So what is that one thing that can help you hone that marketing strategy? The answer is branding. Apparel brand The Mountain, for instance, is a perfect example of how branding can help eCommerce businesses to improve their ROI.
The Mountain first opened as a New Hampshire-based small belt-and-buckle-selling retail store in 1972. Later, they added hand-dyed and printed tees in their product line and got their own officially-licensed line of t-shirts, which featured iconic musicians. But in 2008, when a cheeky Amazon user’s review of their “Three Wolf Moon” shirt went viral on the Internet and its popularity skyrocketed, management realized they needed a website.
Within 30 days of launching their rebrand, The Mountain saw a dramatic increase of over 33 percent in their MoM conversion rate.
Today, if you want your eCommerce sales to skyrocket it is important to sell your brand name and not just the name of the product. You need to stand out among the competition in order to establish your own unique brand and in this post we will discuss 3 easy steps to help you get started.
1. Get Your Basics Right
“Elementary, my dear Watson.”
It is always important to get your basics right. To create a successful brand strategy, the first step is to have a better understanding of your own business. What makes your eCommerce brand remarkable?
- Do you have a business mission?
- Does your product solve a problem?
- What do your customers think of you?
- What standards do you have or associate with your business?
These are the messages that should reflect in your brand, including all the social media outlets you use. In fact, all the content you share must include the message and values your eCommerce brand represents. Your tone and style must be consistent across all the platforms.
Also, decide on what’s your unique selling proposition and leverage that to differentiate your brand. Take the example of Saddleback Leather – from their slogan to their website that speaks of travel in third-world countries, Mexican bullfighting, and touching stories about Blue (the owner’s Labrador), this brand oozes personality.
In addition, don’t forget the significance of your logo; get something recognizable and easy-to-remember. And you don’t even need a high-end designer as there are various options when it comes to creating a logo for your company.
Tailor Brands, for example, is an affordable tool that enables your business to create a quality logo in less than 30 seconds. Making sure the logo is unique to your brand, represents your brand properly, reflects quality services, engages and evokes customers’ emotion, and instills your brand value is key to successful branding.
Once you get your basics right, it’s time for our next step.
2. Tell Your Story
Stories are perhaps the oldest tradition in the history of mankind. We are divinely programmed to remember and emotionally connect with stories and online consumers are no exceptions. Tell the start-up story of your brand in a way that helps you gain your prospective customers’ trust and at the same time gives them a glimpse into the life of your business. Tell them why you started the business, who you are, what you (your brand) stand for, things that you care about, and so on.
Take the example of Renogy. Their “About Us” page not just tells their story but also why people should choose them and gives a glimpse of their work process.
But when it comes to brand storytelling, it must be bigger than you and your brand. In fact, it must also involve your audience, both existing and the prospective ones. And to do it rightly, you must respect the context of the channel where they are receiving you.
For example, create a compelling video for YouTube and for Twitter, and then broadcast it via email marketing. More importantly, it must be a quality story; algorithms are becoming more and more intelligent and today, content is delivered based on actions on social media.
So when someone likes a post on Facebook, similar posts show up in their feeds and people usually like or share stories that add value. Talking of value, it shouldn’t be linked just with your business objectives. Remember how Saddleback Leather also tells stories about its owner’s Labrador Blue to connect with people.
Finally, make sure your story answers the “whys”
- Why should they be interested in your story?
- Why should they care about you?
- Why is your audience in a particular channel?
- The goal is to give them what they are looking for in order to connect with them.
Besides, feed these answers into your branding strategy and gradually you can position yourself as different from your competitors.
Your customers can also become part of your story telling strategy. You can use your customers’ reviews to build stories and tell them on your site and social media.
Text Optimizer is a great tool that will help you positioning your product based on your competitors:
Here’s also a great tutorial on analyzing your competitors.
Keep in mind that brand storytelling takes time. To start with, try pitching your brand story to a journalist and see if you can get some brand awareness and extra media coverage.
3. Engage Your Customers
Engaging your customers is pivotal in the highly competitive landscape of eCommerce business. But social media is there to solve our problem, only if you know how to use them. For instance, when a customer makes a purchase, encourage them to share it on social media along with a hashtag to be featured on your social channel/website.
This will not only give you a lot of customer engagement but will also help you build a relationship with them. See what NYX Cosmetics is doing to gain consumers’ attention. In their product page they feature Instagram posts of their customers who are wearing it.
Make sure to revamp your contact options. Your customers will be more likely to get in touch if you let them call or text you. Customer Service CRM is the best way to keep your customers engaged.
This is one of the best ways to tell people you have happy customers without over-promoting your business. Make people feel good about themselves and they will eventually become your brand evangelist.
Remember that eCommerce branding isn’t done in a day. You need to work hard and keep at it to take your online store to the next level. The key is to define your brand and understand what makes you different.
Next, embrace those differences and create your branding strategy around them to engage your customers. If you can do that, there is nothing stopping you from creating a truly unique online presence.