Branding is essential to the success of any business venture, but maybe especially in the increasingly competitive ecommerce business.
What is a brand? Your brand is your customers’ first impression of who you are as a business. It is not a single element, like your logo or the design of your online store, rather, it’s the sum of your online shop, your logo, the fonts, the colors in your graphics etc. A good brand takes all these elements and forms them into one cohesive unit that allows your customers to recognize your business when they see your logo, packaging, or ads. Much like a person has a personality, a business has a brand.
Before You Begin
Before you can develop your brand, you need to take a good look at your business. You need to know who you are, what you have to offer, and who you are offering it to.
● Who You Are Your business has an identity; a certain voice, personality, and qualities that sets it apart from other similar businesses. It’s important to think about your business identity, as well as how you can communicate this identity to your customers. Having some concrete adjectives to describe your business with makes the branding process easier. It can be helpful to write down two to three keywords that describe your business. Your business personality can be things like ‘whimsical, cheerful, and neighborly’ or ‘sleek and modern.’ As you build your brand, you can refer back to these keywords to make sure you stay on track with the image you want to show the world.
● What Makes You Different When your customer goes online to look for a product there are loads of businesses ready to take their money. What sets your business apart from the competition? Perhaps you only sell ethically sourced products, or products made exclusively from recycled materials. Whatever it is, you fill a gap your competition doesn’t, and this x-factor needs to be built into your branding.
● What Your Values Are People are more likely to shop from a business that has the same values as they do, so this is an important point to get across.
● Who Your Customers Are You want your brand to speak to your customers, so make sure you know who you’re trying to speak to.
Basic Brand Elements
● Font The fonts you use to send a message to your customer. Using a classic, cursive font might give an old-fashioned or classy impression, while a more modern font might give a sleek, modern impression. Choose a font that fits the three adjectives you picked out earlier.
● Color The colors you use in your branding can make your customers feel certain emotions, react in a certain way, or even drive their behavior. This is why choosing the right colors for your brand is so important. Whatever colors you use in your website design should reflect the colors used in your social media graphics, marketing emails etc.
● Voice Your voice is a part of your identity. The language you speak, the words you use, or don’t use, tells people who you are. Your business also has a voice, and your web copy, social media posts, product descriptions, slogans, and email communication needs to reflect this voice.
● Shape Consider what shapes communicate your business identity best. Soft, cloud-like shapes communicate a different vibe than sharp, angled shapes.
● Your Logo Your signature, and the most important part of your brand.
● Your Business Cards Making connections in real life is still important, and having a physical business card to hand off after an in-person interaction is necessary.
● Your Merchandise Make sure that any merchandise you give out is on-brand. Even if it’s just a graphic printed on a t-shirt it tells a story about who you are as a business.
● Your Packaging Having on-brand packaging that stands out and is featured on your website will make it easier to recognize for your customers.
● Your Website Your website is where your customer spends the majority of their time interacting with your business and you want it to be a positive experience that reflects well on you.
● Your Partnerships Even partnerships need to be consistent with your brand and the audience you want to reach. Make sure that your partners follow your brand messaging so that your audience can recognize your brand in sponsored posts or emails.
● Your Customer Service Customer service emails, online chat, and phone calls should all reflect your specific brand voice.
The Most Important Thing about Branding
The most important thing to remember when it comes to branding, is that your brand needs to be everywhere. If your brand is ‘whimsical’, your business must appear ‘whimsical’ across all platforms.
If your brand is ‘modern professional’, your business needs to reflect a ‘modern professional’ vibe everywhere people encounter your business. Keeping your entire e-commerce business on-brand makes it visible, recognizable, and familiar to your customers, and that is what branding is all about.