Branding for e-commerce websites has never been more important. Currently, the number of e-commerce sites available online is growing at an incredible rate. Some experts say there are between 12 and 24 million online stores already battling for their share of the web.
With tools like Shopify and WooCommerce making it easier for people to build their own website, and digital supply chains growing more accessible, any ambitious individual can create a store.
With so many options to choose from, you need something special to ensure your consumers pick your company over the competitors. That’s where branding comes in.
Australian based agency SEO Advantage (Shopify & e-commerce specialists) state that online stores with the best branding aspects are often the winners in competitive marketplaces. That’s because consumers are more likely to form emotional connections with strongly branded companies.
The more you develop your brand identity, the more your store will resonate with your target audience, increasing your chances of higher sales, better customer loyalty, and rapid growth.
The question is, how exactly do you start branding an e-commerce website?
The 5 crucial steps to branding for e-commerce websites
While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for building the perfect brand, there are certain steps you can follow to help develop your identity.
The right branding for e-commerce websites should simultaneously differentiate your business from other similar stores, while leaving an emotional impact on your target audience.
Remember, people don’t buy products based on features or price anymore – they choose companies based on what they feel about a business.
Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to create the ultimate e-commerce brand.
Step 1: Identify your target audience
Branding is all about creating a personality and image capable of connecting with a specific group of people on an emotional level. This means you’re going to need to define exactly who you’re trying to reach before you can start doubling down on your brand.
To find your target audience, look at the products you’re going to be selling and ask yourself what kind of people might find them appealing. For instance, if you’re selling haircare products, you might want to target men and women of a certain age range, as well as salon professionals.
You can narrow your target audience even further by thinking about the values your customers are likely to be interested in. Do they want locally-sourced products, or environmentally-friendly ingredients? Are they interested in budget-conscious brands or luxury companies?
Mailchimp specifically identifies itself as a marketing platform for “small business”. This identity has helped the company to determine what prices to charge for its products, what kind of marketing language to use, and even how to shape its personality (friendly and accessible).
If you’re not sure who your target audience should be, consider checking out the competitors in your industry. Who are they already serving? What kind of groups are often being overlooked in your landscape, and are there any specific people who buy products like yours more than most?
Step 2: Define your mission and USP
When it comes to succeeding in branding for e-commerce websites, it’s important to remember every great brand has a purpose. They’re not just selling products to make money – they’re working towards a specific goal.
Defining your values and mission will help you to ensure you can create an affinity with your target audience which inspires future loyalty.
Generally, your mission should be based around the specific pain points of your target audience. If you’re trying to target budget-conscious mothers with a focus on sustainability, your mission as an e-commerce brand might be to sell the highest-quality, safest products at the smallest price.
If you need some inspiration, you can check out the “purpose”, “values” or “mission” pages shared by other companies on their websites. For instance, ASOS says its mission is to he the number one fashion destination for people in their 20s.
To adhere to this mission, the company consistently chooses visuals, marketing messages and advertising strategies which appeal to a younger audience. Even the models on the site are generally in their 20s, to help customers connect with what they see.
Step 3: Develop your brand assets
E-commerce companies aren’t always as invested in their personality and visual identity as other major brands. Some store owners assume their products and prices will do all the work of converting customers for them.
However, you can’t have a strong brand if your initial brand assets aren’t up to scratch.
Don’t make the mistake of leaving your store name, logo, and website design as afterthoughts. Make sure every element of your brand is custom-made to appeal to the right audience.
Brand tone of voice
How are you going to speak to your target audience? Are you going to use emojis and slang to reach a younger group, or do you want to sound more professional?
What kind of logo are you going to use on your social media pages, emails, product packaging, and website? Your logo needs to be clear and compelling.
What is your store going to be called? Are you going to use a descriptive name, or something more unique and evocative?
Brand colors and images
What kind of colors will you use to connect to customers on a psychological level? Will you be using professional photography to showcase your products?
As an e-commerce store owner, you should ensure your website doesn’t just look great, but feels easy-to-use and streamlined too.
Look at eBay for example. Its content is straightforward and easy-to-read, on a website that’s well-organized and ideal for navigation. The eBay name and logo are also impactful and memorable, great for sticking in the top of customer minds.
Step 4: Invest heavily in customer service
Your brand isn’t just a culmination of what your company looks and sounds like. Successful branding for e-commerce websites also depends on how you interact with and serve your customers. As such, you’ll need to ensure you’re putting the right amount of effort into to customer experience.
Customer experience is a considerable factor for about 90% of Americans when they’re choosing which companies to buy from. So, think about how you can make the experience as memorable as possible for your customers in all the right ways.
For instance, you can:
- Reward loyal customers with discounts when they purchase multiple products.
- Offer a range of payment and delivery options to suit different customer needs.
- Provide a live chat feature on your website for people who have questions.
- Reply to customers on social media and respond to product reviews.
- Organize contests and competitions to keep your customer engaged.
- Simplify the checkout process on your website with guest checkout options.
- Ask for feedback regularly and respond to your customer’s suggestions.
Transparency with information about your delivery and returns processes is also extremely useful for e-commerce brands.
Having pages on your website where you can highlight what your customers need to do when they want to return a product or speed up delivery can improve your chances of conversions.
Step 5: Create a documented content strategy
Building a successful e-commerce brand isn’t something you can do in one day and forget about. You need to be constantly engaging with your audience and demonstrating what your e-commerce business stands for.
This means you’re going to need a plan for connecting with customers through content.
Content is the best way to share your brand’s tone of voice. It’s critical for showing your thought leadership in an industry, and providing your customers with useful information. The more content you share, the more you’ll also be able to attract customers to your company through SEO.
There are a few ways you can use content to build your brand, including:
Sharing blogs, videos, and podcasts
Creating valuable content like blogs and videos is an excellent way to engage your audience and increase engagement on your website. You can create everything from buyer guides and reviews to how-to instructions to help customers make the most of your products.
Email marketing is a great way to maintain a consistent form of communication with your target audience. Creating a list of subscribers and segmenting them based on number of purchases, product preferences, and other factors will make it easier to regularly convert visitors into repeat customers.
Sharing content on social media helps to keep your business top-of-mind for your target audience. It can improve the chances of driving traffic back to your website, and ensure you have another way to collect insights from your clients about their favorite products.
You can even use social media to share updates about sales and discounts, like @Colourpop does with its Instagram account.
Master your e-commerce branding strategy
Implementing the right branding for e-commerce websites isn’t something any business can afford to overlook. As the number of competing companies on the web continues to grow, the only way to set yourself apart from the competition, is to make an emotional connection with your audience.
Remember, as you implement your branding strategies, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to your e-commerce store analytics, and track insights into how people perceive your business. This will help to inform you of whether you might need to make changes to your strategy.
If you’re struggling to achieve the right results for your brand, you can always look into agencies and professionals to help you grow.
Fabrik: A branding agency for our times.