Marketers tend to talk a lot about brand identity. Why is e-commerce brand identity important? And what does it actually mean? It’s one of those things that, if it’s working, you don’t notice it. You only really spot it when it’s not there. It’s about the kind of vibe you want your business to convey; how they come across to the public and potential customers.
Many brands spend years building up their identity. Think about Etsy smoothies, for example. They are famous for having a quirky, light-hearted brand identity. It suits their business model and is reflected in everything, from their ads to their small print.
Conversely, a call center software business might have a more professional tone, as it will be more appreciated by their demographic. Branding has always been a vital part of marketing. And it’s just as important when it comes to ecommerce.
Relatively speaking, ecommerce is still in its infancy compared to other business structures. And, naturally, potential audiences are much larger. Not only this, but competition is fiercer than ever before. Because of this, it can be difficult to produce a strong brand identity for ecommerce businesses that will have a real impact.
That said, there are some sure-fire ways to get you well on your way to creating a strong ecommerce brand identity.
Here, we’ll cover everything you should consider at the very start of your ecommerce branding. Before you start doing absolutely anything, you’ll want to have checked off everything on the following list. A clear plan will ensure you have direction; something for you and your team to work toward, increasing workplace productivity.
Establish Values and Identity
Before building the more specific aspects of your ecommerce brand, you’re going to need to figure out what those features are going to represent. Think about the values, at the core of your ecommerce site, morally, and pragmatically. What kind of things does your company provide, and what does it stand for?
Building a strong ecommerce brand identity is vital, but you won’t know how well it will be received unless you know how it relates to what’s already on the market. Do research to get a sense of the competitive environment. When you get to know what other brands are already doing, you can then figure out where your brand fits into the bigger picture.
Decipher what makes your ecommerce store different from the others, highlight those differences (perhaps you’re offering something they are not), and build the brand around those unique identity traits.
Build a Tone of Voice
After figuring out your ecommerce store’s brand identity, you’re going to want to represent that identity by establishing a tone of voice. This refers to anything written that comes from your company.
Website copy, emails, and text, promotional materials, social media posts, even terms, and conditions. There are a lot of creative ways you can employ your tone of voice, even in empty cart reminders.
Your tone of voice should permeate every level of communication to convey a unified, consistent brand. Building a tone of voice will depend entirely on your previously undertaken research. What are you about, who are your customers, and what tone will they best respond to?
Will you opt for a casual, friendly tone, or something more stern and professional. It all depends on your target demographic.
Take Dialpad, for example, a cloud-based communication platform. They provide a number of communication tools like video conferencing, contact centers, and call recordings. They’re all about communication, and their slogan “Get more out of every conversation”, reflects that perfectly.
It’s succinct, conversational, and informative because that’s what they do!
Build an Aesthetic
Many of the same rules apply when it comes to designing your brand’s aesthetic. You’ll want something unique, eye-catching, and appropriate for your identity. Much like the tone of voice, the cornerstone of this is consistency. Once you decide on a look, it should encompass every part of your business.
It’s all about brand recognition. You want people to know, from a glance, who you are. Think about Starbucks. Most people could spot a Starbucks coffee cup from a mile away. They are instantly recognizable because it’s plastered on everything they are associated with.
Have a Robust Marketing Strategy
A huge part of building your ecommerce store’s brand is how it is deployed. In other words, you’re going to need a robust and carefully planned marketing strategy. Consider what channels are available to you, and how you’re going to utilize them.
Social media is a huge marketing resource, and it’s only getting bigger. Build your brand’s social media presence, with an emphasis on engagement. Encouraging engagement and conversation will keep your store in the public eye.
The greatest advantage of social media marketing is how interconnected all the platforms are. Most of the public have more than one social media account, and content is constantly being shared between them. Not only this, but they are often more personally focused. It’s information being shared between individual people, so it has the same advantages of word of mouth, but on a far larger scale.
Word of Mouth
As hard as they try, marketing campaigns will never be regarded with the same amount of trust as word of mouth. People are far more likely to try out your online store if they hear about it from a friend. Try to encourage this by offering promotions and discount codes when they recommend your store to a friend.
It’s been around for a while, but it’s still one of the most successful kinds of marketing, it has a great Return on Investment (ROI) and it’s constantly evolving new and innovative strategies.
It may sound simple, but it’s a lot more than just spamming potential customers. You’re going to need to find subscribers and generate leads with effective messaging. It can be a lot to take on single-handedly, so consider contacting an email marketing agency to help facilitate your email marketing strategy.
Prioritize Customer Experience
Branding is all about public perception. In other words, your customers’ experience of your business. As such, prioritizing customer experience should be at the core of every decision you make.
This can encompass a lot of different areas, from user interfaces to promotional offers. Without going too far into details, a good rule of thumb is to ask these questions before any major decision:
“How does this help the customer?”
“How will the public react to this decision?”
“Is it in keeping with our core brand identity?”
It sounds a lot simpler than it is, you need to recognize customer needs while trying to maintain your integrity and core values. Even more practically, you should set up an effective customer service department. This is essential, as they will be the human voices that communicate with your customers.
There are a lot of options for customer service. You could create your own, in-house, or contact a CCaaS agency to work on your behalf. It all depends on the size and scope of your ecommerce store, and how much you’re willing to spend.
No matter what you choose, never compromise the customer experience. The influence on your ecommerce brand identity is immeasurable.
Consistency Across All Channels
Building your tone and aesthetic are vital for building your brand. But, day-to-day, you’ll need to make sure your store’s branding is consistent across every channel. This can be tricky, as there are so many mediums in which your brand can be represented. This means every email, social media post, or blog post conveying the same unified brand identity.
The best way to ensure this is with training, and quality control. Make sure every new employee is thoroughly attuned to your ecommerce store’s tone of voice, design, and core values so that they can appropriately represent the brand in their daily operations.
Have experienced staff monitor and advise employees, until they get it right. After a short time, it will become second nature.
Finally, you’ll want your brand to be ready for everything the future holds.
We’ll now go over a few strategies to make sure your ecommerce brand continues to thrive throughout any kind of transition or development.
Customer Research and Marketing
The whole point of having an ecommerce brand identity is controlling how you are perceived by the public. As such, you’re going to need to know how customers view your brand.
The best way to do this is by conducting frequent and insightful customer research. Focus groups and online polls are great ways to do this. Make the customer a part of your brand building and show them you value their opinions.
Keep One Ear to the Ground
Any changes you make should be incremental, to avoid being too jarring. McDonald’s, while not strictly an ecommerce brand, has done this masterfully, over the years. They used to be far more child-focused in their marketing, highlighting happy meals, and play areas.
As time went by, they slowly transitioned away from that image. Now, their ads have a more sophisticated tone, highlighting their reliability, low prices, and availability.
Some of the most common praises you hear about McDonald’s are that you know what you’re getting, it’s cheap, and it’s always open. Maybe once it was for kids, but those kids have now grown up with this brand. It’s trusted and recognized. And McDonald’s has capitalized on that trust by shifting its brand identity along with its consumers.
Building a brand is an ongoing process, incorporating the look, sound, and behavior of your ecommerce store. It may take a while to become fully realized. But, if you start with a good foundation, prepare to adapt, and keep the customer at the heart of everything you do, you’ll be well on the way to building a strong brand for your ecommerce store.