Branding your ecommerce store is not about standing out in the marketplace. It is about positioning your store as an authority in your niche. It must be clearly defined yet evolve over time as you learn more about the needs of your customers.
When you properly brand your store you make a lasting impression on your visitors, improve customer loyalty, and most importantly - save money. Presenting your ecommerce store to customers in a haphazard way is never wise. It is likely to cause you to spend hours doing tasks that should take you minutes.
For example, creating an effective email template enables you to update content in seconds. Rather than designing a new email as you need to broadcast changes to your customers. Likewise, using the same homepage template and updating its content as needed helps you avoid redesigning a new homepage every time you launch a new product.
This translates into saving you time, reducing downtime for design approvals, and protects your brand. There are dozens upon dozens of recommendations on how to build your brand. Industry leaders consistently share facts on why you need to develop a brand for your store.
In this posts we take a real world approach to developing your brand. Because a strong brand saves you money in the long run. Branding is not about how your ecommerce business “looks” online. Your brand is the foundation of your store and dictates everything from customer interactions to sales goals.
The key to positioning your ecommerce business as an authority in your niche is to tackle each aspect of your brand with patience.
Plan to Evolve
Often when you launch your ecommerce store you have a vision of what you want it to be. You have chosen a name, have an idea of your products, and have contracted a designer to mock up a design. However, your brand involves so much more than a visual design. It involves how you plan to communicate with your customers, how often, and which tones you are going to use.
Will your brand be humourous, real, personal, or professional? To answer these questions you must dive head first into your niche and market. Determine the tone being used, and then polish and refine it to make it your own.
Pay attention to the visuals as well. Are they bold designs or simple and straightforward ones? Which colors are most popular? Which lingo and language is being used by consumers?
I learned this valuable tip through trial and error.
For example, during my work with The Kewl Shop we slowly began to move from a more classic tone to described the dresses (such as elegant and sophisticated) to a more bold tone of sex appeal. As we interacted more with our customers and target market we noticed lingo such as sexy or hot targeted pain points directly.
So we started to describe our dresses as sexy, timeless, and versatile. To address some of the pain points for our customers such as weight and attractiveness we updated our product descriptions. In these descriptions we talked about how our dresses are strong and supportive, often doubling as shapewear.
Branding requires more than creativity. You must constantly dive into your niche, explore it, and evolve your brand to stand out in it. Take your time and grow your brand with patience. Do not be afraid to update your branding as you recognize the need to do so.
Consistently work to evolve your brand into an authority in your niche. Never simply set your brand, it should evolve with the market, consumer trends, and time.
Clearly Identify Your Position
The biggest challenge of developing your brand as an ecommerce business is clearly identifying your position. Ecommerce stores live and breathe in a digital world. This world is only obtained and experienced via a screen.
The idea of standing out amongst millions of websites and online stores is overwhelming and demanding. Your first reaction is to buy tons of tools to help you develop your brand. Your next reaction is to seek help and guidance out of fear of doing it all wrong.
This is not only a costly mistake but a bad decision. Clearly understanding your niche, how ecommerce businesses works, and what you need to know is not something you should to hire someone for. You need to be in the trenches to identify the goals you want to achieve with your ecommerce business.
If you hire out the tasks you never understand what it takes to succeed online. The Kewl Shop is a collective effort of individuals who have successfully lived off on the Internet for years. We have each learned our niche and found ways to survive in it.
Clearly identifying your position is not simply about creating a brand as an ecommerce store. It is about identifying why you want to do it and how. Are you in it to make a profit and buy that vacation home in the Bahamas? Are you in it to give consumers better options? Are you meeting a need in the niche that has yet to be satisfied?
What is your position as a brand? Answering this question takes a great deal of self reflection. Ultimately, the answer provides guidance on how you plan to build your brand and what it takes to sustain it. The answer also covers how your brand influences your market.
Colors are about so much more than entertainment and aesthetics. The colors you choose for your brand should be purposeful and defining. To best understand this aspect of branding let’s take a look at one of the world’s leading ecommerce businesses: Amazon.
Amazon is an online retailer that was established in 1994, a few years after the Internet became available to the public. The company is the largest online retailer in the world. Its logo features the brand name with a half smile in the color orange. As you browse the website you notice a few things:
Red is often associated with our physical need to survive, love, and thrive. It is strong and gives us unfounded confidence. Amazon uses red to give shoppers an immediate instinct to accept. Ever notice that almost all “on sale” signs and text is red?
Yellow tends to wake up our logical side. It is known for providing mental clarity and perception. By using yellow as the add to cart button we are finalizing our decision. The yellow product star ratings help support our decision to buy just like many other people already have.
Orange gives us warmth and security. It is commonly used in floral arrangements at funerals because it helps our minds recover from grief and disbelief. Strategically using orange in areas designed to help us make a purchasing decision or “close the deal” for the company makes sense. For example, instead of feeling moments of doubt as we click to enlarge the product image, we feel moments of happiness and assurance.
Amazon has not only harnessed the power of color but embraced it. Strategically placing colors in areas that support purchasing and decision making processes is fundamental for the success of your ecommerce store.
Study the way other ecommerce businesses have utilized colors and do a bit of research to ensure that the colors you choose are wise and support your brand goals and objectives.
Build an Effective Team
Getting in the trenches to help develop your brand does not mean you have to start, build, and grow your ecommerce store alone. Building a good team takes time, but should be one of your goals early on as a startup ecommerce business.
The key reason to build an effective team is to keep your message clean and consistent. As well as keep your brand’s design steady and unwavering.
Your brand and visual representation is the heart of your online business. It must not be thrown together, but rather as cohesive as possible. Work towards that end from the beginning to save yourself time and money.
Searching for designers and website engineers every time you need something done wastes valuable time that you need for other tasks. Build a team that makes sense. If hiring team members for key roles in your business is not in your budget, consider offering other forms of compensation such as equity in the business.
Create a Budget
As you develop and launch your ecommerce store you need to establish a budget. When thinking of budgets we primarily consider money as the prime factor. However, money is only part of an equation when you work in a digital realm.
Your budget requires that you allocate both money and time.
Launching an ecommerce store demands that you set aside some time to work exclusively on growing and building your store. This work may take hours to complete one simple task such as setting up your store or uploading products and writing descriptions.
Keep track of your time so that your store does not overcome your personal and work life. If you are launching a store and holding onto your 9-5 until it takes off, set aside a few hours every night and one day during the weekend.
Give yourself off time. Taking off time keeps you fresh and protects your business sense.
As you launch your store expect to spend up to 20 hours a week in addition to your 40 hour “main job” work hours. If you do not budget for time to build and grow your business it will struggle to take off.
It is impossible for us to make any recommendations on the fiscal part of your budget. However, your budget should include allocated resources for the following initially:
Your ecommerce store platform (such as Shopify)
Your domain name purchase (for example www.yourstore.com)
Your website engineer (to customize your store)
Your designer (to develop your visual brand)
Your copywriter (to ensure your products and brand is well represented)
Developing your brand is one of the most challenging and essential parts of launching your online store. It requires that you think outside of the box, identify your position, and plan to evolve as you grow.
Your brand must be engaging, different, and reputable to survive online.
Cutting corners, relying strictly on creativity, or building it as-you-go may cost you valuable time and wasted resources over time. Instead, develop your brand as you build your store. Pay attention to the colors you use, take a hard look at your target market, and budget for both time and money.
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