By: Kayleigh Alexander
A strong brand is essential for any business, whether you’re a freelancer or run a multinational corporation. But in an environment as competitive as online business, a failure to create a strong brand puts you at a huge disadvantage.
Every business must have a brand. It has always been important, but now it is more important than ever. Here’s why you cannot afford to neglect building a brand—along with some tips for how to go about doing so successfully.
Recommended reading: 7 Easy Business Concepts Every Founder Needs To Know
Why branding is essential
Branding has never been more important for ecommerce stores. Your brand will have a strong say in whether your e-commerce business is a success or a failure.
With any business—but e-commerce in particular—you need to create a bond with your customers. After all, there are plenty of other e-commerce stores waiting to take their money if you don’t provide what they want.
While people are more comfortable with the idea of spending their money online than they were even a few years ago, they still need to feel comfortable when they arrive at your store. They need to trust you before they type in their credit card details, and this is where your brand can help.
It boosts brand recognition
Branding also boosts your recognition online. You need to be recognized online because you need to stand out. There may be dozens of stores selling what you sell, and you have to find a way to make your store memorable for positive reasons.
Your brand makes you unique. It’s something that other stores cannot offer, and it is what helps to set you apart.
It creates (and capitalizes on) emotion
Branding is all about the emotional connection and how you make your customers feel. When people think of your store, you want them to immediately feel a positive association with it, which will help to drive more business.
Essentially, you want them to feel good when they shop on your site because this increases trust and increases the chances that they will choose your store rather than the competition.
It inspires loyalty
Finally, a strong brand inspires greater loyalty, which is essential for your e-commerce store to survive and thrive.
You want your customers to not only come back but to tell all their friends how great you are. You want to convert them into brand advocates so they will promote your business for you and provide compelling social proof.
It helps you stand out in a saturated market
The market is saturated. Competition from other e-commerce stores is tough enough, and then you have marketplaces like Amazon to compete against.
Your brand can make the difference, not only in tempting customers away from the industry titans either. It also gives your business value beyond its essential operations (should you ever want to test out direct selling, an increasingly-popular pursuit for e-commerce entrepreneurs, that value would be essential).
How to brand an e-commerce store
Now you know the importance of branding, you need to know how to build your brand.
It all starts with your design
Start with the basics, which means setting up a website that is well designed, mobile friendly, blazing fast, and with a simple and straightforward checkout. When people come to your store, they should have a memorable experience from the off, and that starts with your website design.
Focus on a strong and attractive design. Make wise choices with your color, fonts, logo, tagline, and more, and use the same style in everything you do to increase recognition, including your emails, blog posts, social updates, and guest posts.
Implement a strong content strategy
Part of a successful website involves creating amazing content. Create blog content based on user guides and helpful information surrounding the products you sell. Consider the tone of your content and decide whether you want it to come across as funny, upbeat, friendly, welcoming, or anything else.
A quick hack is competitor research. Identify what your competition is doing and the topics that they cover, then do the same, but better. Check out ecommerce websites for sale in your niche and get a feel for the kind of content they publish. Find those e-commerce businesses that command a higher price than their competitors — these are the ones that have perfected their brand, boosting their value as a result.
Look out for trends and popular posts. These will help you flesh out your content strategy quickly without resorting to (often expensive) research tools.
Create a genuine customer relationship
Engage with your customers on social media and in your blog comments. Always reply to their comments, and use every contact as an opportunity to build your brand. This extends to your customer service too.
Provide exceptional customer service, whether on your website, over the phone, or via social marketing. Amazon is known for its focus on brilliant customer service, and you can do the same. Get known for this, and you’re sure to drive more business.
Appeal to your USP in everything you do
Know what your unique selling proposition (USP) is. Work out what makes you different and why people should shop at your store and not the others.
It could be that you offer more choice, better prices, better customer care, free shipping on everything, no-questions-asked returns, or something else entirely. Ensure you keep your USP at the heart of everything you do, from sure everything you do has this as the focus.
Write a brand story with heart
Create an About Page that tells your story. Provide details about the people who started the store, why they did this, and what your mission is. Make it personal — by giving your brand a human history, you breathe life and personality into it.
And get creative with your story delivery too. A written story works fine, but so too does a video telling. Interviews with your brand founders, Q&A sessions, or even an interactive timeline all make for an engaging brand story delivery.
Embrace a multichannel social presence
Be present in more than one place. Build your presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other sites. People find brands in different ways, and you want to make sure they encounter you.
And creating a sprawling social presence gives a human element to an otherwise flat business. Regularly posting on social shows that you’re more than just a business — you’re a lively, active brand that your customers can engage with on a human level.
Your brand is how people feel when they think about your business, and you want to make sure that the emotion is a positive one. The more people trust you and enjoy buying from your store, the stronger the relationship will become—and the more they will want to continue being your customer.
Everything you do affects your brand. So decide how you want people to feel about your business, and then set about defining a strong brand in everything you do to make your business more competitive in the e-commerce space.