Your Ecommerce Branding Guide to Building a Loyal Following
You have an eCommerce business. But do you have a brand? The difference between a business and a brand is that the former creates products or offers services, while the latter is the image or identity your business projects to people. While you can sell products and services without having brand awareness (after all, plenty of people shop generic products to save money), your chances for success and growth are much better when you have an eCommerce brand.
What is an Ecommerce Brand?
An eCommerce brand is really no different from other brands, except they exist within the digital realm. This means most of their branding happens online, through social media, paid ads, email marketing, content marketing, and other forms of digital Ecommerce marketing. Because products are shipped in the real world, their branding may extend to their packaging, labeling, etc.
5 Benefits of Developing an Ecommerce Strategy
Now that you have a better idea of what an eCommerce brand is and how it works, let’s take a look at the benefits of developing an eCommerce branding strategy.
1. Ensures Consistency Across Channels
With a branding strategy, every piece of marketing works together like a well-oiled machine. At a glance, customers will recognize your brand because of the logo, imagery, design and color scheme, and tone of the copy.
2. Creates Brand Loyalty
If a brand has nailed its brand strategy, chances are, people will develop a loyalty to it in time. Consider Apple; the company knew that people would pay more for their brand because it conveyed style, prestige, and a sense of “belonging.” Now, there are Apple devotees who would never consider another brand.
3. Encourages Repeat Purchases
When you generate excitement about a brand and gain loyal customers, you’re going to earn repeat business. Let’s go back to Apple as an example. When a new iPhone is released, thousands of people across the globe line up outside stores – for days! – in order to be one of the first to hold the new phone in their hand. When Apple releases complementary products, say some new earbuds, these loyalists are also sure to buy. Of course, most brands will never reach this level of loyalty, but it’s certainly something to aspire toward!
4. Builds Brand Recognition
Having a unique style and voice is important for building brand recognition. People will immediately recognize a marketing or advertising initiative as yours because you’ve created something that is one-of-a-kind.
5. Creates Competitive Differentiation
There are about 1.3 million eCommerce sellers in the United States alone. That’s a lot of competition! Studies also show that today, many are no longer competing on product or price, but on customer experience (CX). This means providing an excellent experience throughout the entire customer journey, from their first interaction with an eCommerce website, through purchase and delivery, to follow-up support.
Branding improves the CX throughout most of this journey, as the customer is never left wondering who they are dealing with, they receive the quality support you company is known for, and when their shipment arrives, it’s in a beautifully branded box (this could even make your product the star of a viral unboxing video).
5 Components of Branding for Ecommerce Marketing
There are a number of core components when it comes to eCommerce branding. Here’s a look at the five most important to focus on as they will help guide your eCommerce marketing decisions.
Everyone has heard of a mission statement, which defines a company’s business and objectives. A vision statement, on the other hand, describes where the company sees itself in the future. Vision statements identify the corporate culture, address the company’s commitment to key stakeholders, and create measurable objectives.
2. Core Values
These make up the fundamental beliefs of your company. They are the guiding principles that all employees should follow, dictating what is right and wrong so that companies know whether they’re on the right path as they pursue goals. Core values tend to highlight positive words, such as honesty, reliability, efficiency, and passion.
3. Brand Style Guide
Companies with strong branding live by a brand style guide, a “rulebook” which explains how the company presents itself in all forms of marketing and advertising. Elements found within a brand style guide include logos, fonts, color selection, photography, and more. Style guides are shared with everyone in the organization, and can also be given to partners or co-branders outside the organization to be sure branding remains consistent.
4. Brand Voice
The brand voice can be thought of as your brand’s personality. This voice comes through in all forms of communication and includes word choice, style, and overall attitude. Brand voice can be authoritative, fun, sarcastic, smart, and so on – just like a person. Over time, people come to recognize your brand voice and can easily identify your marketing and advertising efforts because of it.
5. Value Proposition
A value proposition lets customers know why they should buy from you versus the competition. Value propositions need to be direct and to the point to capture attention and achieve understanding. They’re often formed based on the company’s target demographic or buyer persona would want, and they often become slogans and/or headlines. Check out some of these famous slogans and headlines that double as great value props, telling customers exactly what they need to know.
- Target: Expect More. Pay Less.
- Apple: The Experience is the Product
- Slack: Be More Productive at Work with Less Effort
- Lyft: Rides in Minutes, Whenever You Need One
- Burger King: Have It Your Way.
5 Types of Branding Strategies
Each company will have a unique branding strategy of their own, however, there are a few standard strategies that they may follow. Of course, these are just starter strategies; your marketing team should brand your products and services with a strategy that works with your business’s values and vision. That said, here are five brand strategies that may be a fit for your eCommerce business.
1. Company Name Branding
You’ve got to become very well-known to deploy this strategy, but we’d be remiss not to include it! Popular brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, BMW, and Starbucks know that they can get by on their name alone. While they still generally follow branding best practices, they can sometimes deviate from the usual and try new things as long as their name is attached simply due to that recognition.
2. Extension Branding
A well-established brand may want to branch out into other markets. When doing so, they may choose a brand extension strategy. For example, Ralph Lauren was mainly known as a preppy clothing company, but eventually, they extended their brand into shoes, colognes, and even furniture. Despite the wildly different nature of some of these items, Ralph Lauren (and other companies taking this approach) maintain their brand identity across product lines.
3. Individual Branding
Say you want to extend your brand...but you don’t want the baggage that comes with it or to risk damaging the flagship product. Then, you may try individual branding (the opposite of extension branding). This is when companies with a well-known brand, and multiple product lines, use different branding strategies for different products. Back to Apple: The company brands its Mac, iPhone, and iPad differently, even though they’re all products from the same company.
Often, individual branding is done to reach different markets without changing the perception of the flagship brand. A good example of this is Disney. In the 1980s, Disney created Touchstone Pictures in order to release PG-13 and R-rated films, without damaging the family-friendly image of Disney.
Another good example of why individual branding is important? Colgate Kitchen Entrees. That’s right, in 1982, Colgate – the toothpaste brand – released a line of frozen dinners under the Colgate name. Consumers couldn’t wrap their heads around food from a brand that they associated with their medicine cabinet, and the product failed big time. Had Colgate simply used an individual brand strategy, who knows? We all might be enjoying their meals to this day.
4. Attitude Branding
Earlier we talked about brand voice, which is essentially branding based on an attitude. This strategy helps bring a company to life by creating an emotional connection between the brand and its customers.
It seems we keep going back to the well with some of our examples, but that’s because they brand themselves so perfectly! So think about Apple once again. They encourage you to “Think Differently.” Then there’s Nike, which tells you to “Just Do It.” These are strong statements, or attitudes, and if people like the message, using the product becomes a type of self-expression.
5. Private Label Branding
Successful retailers may use private-label branding strategies to compete with large product brands. They will use a third-party manufacturer to make branded products exclusively for their stores (think Great Value at Walmart or Kirkland at Costco).
Once dismissed as “generics” to be avoided when compared to more popular brand-name products, shoppers are now realizing that private label products can be just as good as more widely recognized brands while also offering savings.
In fact, in a recent Nielsen study, more than 70% of consumers said they had a better impression of the quality of these so-called generic products than they used to.
5 Ecommerce Branding Ideas to Fuel Growth
1. Align Branding with Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are a representation of your customers based on market research and real data about your existing customers. This includes demographic information, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. It’s important to develop personas in order to align your brand with them. If your #1 buyer persona lives in a rural area and earns less than $35K per year, you probably don’t want to market some frou-frou dress with a hefty price tag to them. Your money could be better spent targeting urbanites with expendable income.
2. Create a Compelling Brand Slogan
We’ve talked a lot about headlines and slogans already, but we didn’t want the message to pass you by without reiterating it one more time. The importance of a brand voice, including a slogan, cannot be stressed enough. A catchy slogan is said to strike more of a chord with customers than just a brand name because it generally offers the customer a commitment and tells them what the brand stands for.
3. Engage in Social Media
There are more than 3.5 billion people are using social media worldwide – and that figure is expected to jump to nearly 4.5 billion by 2025. So, if you’re not on social media, you’re missing out! Social media is a convenient and inexpensive way to get in touch with or keep in touch with customers and non-customers alike (if you’re lucky, it can help convert those non-customers as well). Best of all, you have your pick of platforms based upon your audience. Do you want to reach B2B professionals? Try LinkedIn. Targeting the elusive Gen Z market? Check out Instagram. Casting a wide net? Facebook is your friend. Learn more in Hubspot’s Social Media Marketing Guide.
4. Personalize Promotions
Most people will no longer be treated like a number. Today, they know they have options, and if a company doesn’t meet their expectations, they’ll look elsewhere. So, it’s important to treat them as individuals, employing customized marketing strategies such as personalized product recommendations and offers, all based upon their demographic data and purchase history.
5. Ask for Feedback
Sales are only one indicator of success; it’s also important to understand what your customer thinks of you. After all, without their input, you may discontinue a product or service they love or continue to push something they hate. Engaging and interacting with customers gives you insight into what is expected of your business, and can lead to product improvements and even new product lines. It can also turn happy customers into brand advocates, and when making things right, dissuade unhappy customers from posting negative reviews.
3 Companies That Understand Ecommerce Branding
We can talk all day about eCommerce branding strategies, but sometimes it just helps to see some examples. So without further ado, here are three companies that had all the right moves when it came to eCommerce branding.
1. Dollar Shave Club: "Shave Time. Shave Money."
Dollar Shave Club sourced generic white label razors, branded them with their name, and then created a home delivery method. Since their concept was unique at the time, they took to video marketing to make sure their target audience understood it. The company CEO, Michael Dubin, created several promotional videos that went viral. The first video received nearly five million views within the first 90 days of its launch! In 2016, with sales approaching $200 million, this small startup sold the company to Unilever for $1 billion, all by sourcing white label razors!
2. Etsy: "Find things you'll love. Support independent sellers."
Despite similar-sounding names, Etsy was never trying to be eBay. The company considers itself more than just a marketplace. Their mission is to “reimagine commerce to build a more fulfilling and lasting world."
To get this message across, the company embraced all major social media channels, posting images and videos designed to get the attention of their niche (but growing) audience. What really took Etsy over the edge for recognition, however, was its Etsy Success Facebook page. This page is dedicated to supporting shop owners, giving special attention to the makers and providing tips to better market their businesses, Q&As with shop owners, and more.
3. Airbnb: "Belong Anywhere"
When traveling, how much time do you actually spend in your hotel? By the looks of most travel sites, your trip is all about the accommodations. Airbnb realized that for most people, that’s not the case. They travel for the experience, and a hotel is just a place to rest a tired head upon a pillow.
So, Airbnb created a social media marketing strategy highlighting the travel experience, offering up photos and stories from real people who’ve used their service to travel the world. Today, Airbnb's site lists more than six million rooms, flats, and houses in more than 80,000 cities across the globe, with about two million people staying in an Airbnb property each night.
Better Your Branding with Fulfillment Marketing
Ecommerce branding is critical for sellers in the online space, but taking their branding offline can also have a huge impact. A great way to complement your digital branding efforts in the real world is through fulfillment marketing. Fulfillment marketing, a concept invented by third-party logistics company The Fulfillment Lab, combines fast shipping, transparency, and customization—without sacrificing scalability.
The Fulfillment Lab allows you to leverage insights collected through marketing data to deliver a personalized experience (even at mass volume) that will keep your customers happy. Learn more about The Fulfillment Lab and fulfillment marketing here.