The Importance of Branding in Ecommerce

One of the most important aspects of starting a successful ecommerce business is to create a good brand as this is what can help you stand out from the crowd and also build you a loyal customer base but how do you actually go about doing this?

Well, that is what we are cover in this guide as we look at everything from what branding is to how to start and maintain a strong brand for your business.

Why is Branding Important in Ecommerce?

Lots of people talk about building a brand around your ecommerce business but why is this important and more importantly, how will it help your business, especially if you are selling your own product?

1. It Helps Differentiate Your Business From Others

One of the key reasons why branding is so important for ecommerce businesses is that it helps your business stand out from every other company in your niche and for very competitive niches, this can be a key differentiating factor as to why people choose to buy from one business over another. 

2. You Can Build a Loyal Customer Base

Brand loyalty is a thing and I’m sure you or people you know are loyal to certain brands, for example there are people who only buy sneakers from one brand. This is because they like the product, they have always had a good experience with the product/business and the brand’s values align with their own. 

3. It Adds Credibility

Being a brand and not just another business can give you credibility in the eyes of potential customers, this is why people will 9 times out of 10 buy a named product over a generic no-name product, even though they might be exactly the same. This increases even more if people are talking about and recommending your products. 

4. It Increases The Value of Your Business

Good branding can increase the value of your business in a number of ways. 

In the eyes of the customer, a brand can be seen as more valuable (due to some of the reasons mentioned above) and will be prepared to pay more for branded products than generic ones.

If you are looking to get investors or sell your business at some point, an established brand will be a much more attractive proposition than a business without a brand. 

5. You Can Bring in Direct Traffic

A key part of building your brand is marketing, which we will cover more later in this article but one of the benefits of good branding is that you can bring in direct traffic and by this, we mean people who are specifically looking for your brand, whether it is via organic search or from social media and ranking for branded terms is a lot easier than some of the broader terms related to your business.

The Elements of Creating A Brand 

Now that we know why branding is so important to ecommerce business, it is time to look at some of the elements that make up your store’s branding:

1. Your Business Name

At the core of your brand is your business name but coming up with a good one is becoming more difficult because of some of the elements on this list but ideally, you want your brand name to be:

  • Short – good brand names are usually 1 to 2 words
  • Memorable – so that people not only remember your name but also how it is spelled

And while you may be able to brainstorm a few names, you need to find one that fits your business. 

But before you commit to a business name, check on points two and three below as brand continuity is hugely important. 

2. Your Domain Name

Your domain name should be the same as your business name and if you look at most successful brands, you will find that this is the case and you also want your domain name to have what is known as a TLD or Top Level Domain and this is the suffix at the end of the domain name such as .com.

Which TLD you opt for can depend on where you are selling to, for example, if you are selling to the US or internationally, then you ideally want to go for a .com but if you are just selling to a single country, then you can opt for the country-specific TLD such as .ca for Canada, .co.uk for the UK or .com.au for Australia.

But getting TLDs is becoming more difficult and you may find that your ideal domain is already in use or someone has bought it and is trying to resell it for a profit (sometimes a very large profit!) and this is where you might have to look at alternatives, such as:

  • Other TLD including .co, .net and .org
  • Modifications such as hyphens or additional words

And while these can be appealing and a quick fix to getting your store up and running, could going for one of these options cause potential problems in the future? Such as people going to the .com for example only to find your site isn’t there.

Sometimes it is better to think again and set up a solid foundation for your brand, rather than going for a quick fix. 

3. Social Media Accounts

The next step is to check to see if the relevant social media accounts are available for your chosen name, so check for:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

And any other social media platform you are planning on using as you want to achieve brand continuity across all of your online channels but you may encounter the same problem as with the domain names in that the name may already be in use or it is a dormant account (which is very frustrating!). 

If you find that all but one account is available, then you are more than likely on to a winner and in this situation, it is fine to go for a slight modification such as an underscore in the name but always keep checking to see if your desired one becomes available. 

Top Tip – If your desired domain name and social media accounts are available, get them ASAP as leaving them could result in someone else getting them and putting you back to square one.

Once you have got all of your names and accounts sorted, you want to create a logo for your business and one mistake that many businesses make is creating some really elaborate logo but if you look at nearly every successful brand, their logos are nearly always very simple. 

But there are some key things you want to think about:

  • Will it be text only, a design or a combination of both?
  • What font are you going to use?
  • What colors will you use?
  • Will the design work on your website, socials, products and packaging?

When it comes to creating your logo, you can use tools like Canva that offer lots of design elements or you can outsource this process to a graphic designer who specializes in creating logos.

5. Brand Colors

One thing that many people don’t think about when developing their brand is colors and they can make a big impact, so much so that some brands are instantly recognizable (and sometimes trademark their colors) and a great example of this is Tiffany with their Tiffany Blue and yes, it is trademarked. 

When it comes to your brand colors, you want to decide if they are going to be used:

  • In your logo
  • On your website
  • On your packaging

And when it comes to colors, different types of colors can work for different types of businesses, for example:

  • Luxury Brands often use deep rich colors
  • Tech brands often use bright and vibrant colors
  • Health and Wellness often use pastel colors

You may already have a color in mind but checking out what your competition, especially what the established brands are using can give you a good indication of the type of color you should be using as they have probably spent a lot of money researching it. 

6. Your Brand Message

Your brand message is the core values of your business and what you want to achieve with your business, which is something you want to communicate through your branding as this is going to help you connect with your target audience who share those same values.

This is going to vary between niches and businesses but your brand’s message could be around:

  • Ethics
  • Environmental Issues
  • Providing the best product out there
  • Providing the best value 

When it comes to sharing your brand’s message, you want this to clearly be displayed on your website and also include it within your marketing efforts, such as social media posts and it doesn’t need to be complicated and in many cases having a clear and concise message can be the best way to go. 

7. Brand Tone

Your brand’s tone can be thought of as its personality and just like people, every business has its own tone and this can once again help you connect with your target audience and there are many different types of tone that a brand could adopt and we’ve listed some of these below:

  • Luxury and Sophisticated – this will often be used by high-end brands 
  • Exciting – often used by brands whose products are used for things that get your adrenaline pumping
  • Rugged – for brands whose products are designed to be used and sometimes abused
  • Calm and Relaxing – often used by brands who sell products to help you relax and improve your mental and/or physical health

Your brand’s tone will come through in the language you use on your site and social media posts, the style of your digital media such as images and videos and the way that you communicate with your customer base. 

How Do You Build A Strong Ecommerce Brand?

You can have all of your branding elements in place but unless you create a plan and put it into action, you won’t get anywhere, so how do you start building a strong brand for your ecommerce business?

Know Your Target Audience

A key component of building a successful brand is to know who your target audience is as this is going to help you not only start molding your branding so that it appeals to them but it also makes creating a marketing strategy a lot easier as you know who you are going to be targeting. 

When it comes to finding your target audience, it can be helpful to picture what your ideal customer would be, including:

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Demographic
  • Interests
  • Values

You will probably appeal to wider or secondary audiences but your core efforts for your branding and marketing should be focused on putting your business in front of your core audience. 

Offer Something That Others Don’t

The second thing you can do to help build your brand is to offer something that others don’t and there can be many ways you can do this and one of the core things is to understand the needs of your target market and by doing this, you can then go on to offer:

  • A better product
  • A better customer experience

Or any number of different things that creates a different value proposition for your business and this is how many disruptors come about as they offer what the market wants and needs, not what the established names in that field decide what is needed (it is amazing how many businesses do this!) and get complacent. 

Be Consistent Across All Your Marketing Channels

When you are posting content to your marketing channels, you want to be consistent across all of them in terms of the style, message and type of content that you are posting and this obviously needs to match up with your website so that it maintains that brand continuity. 

Get Your Name Out There

The most important part of building your brand is to actually get your name out there and there are many different ways you can look at for doing this, including:

  • Digital PR – this is where you start contacting journalists and publications to let them know about your brand and open discussions about getting content published about your brand, with links back to your site 
  • Influencer Marketing – want people to know about your brand, then start reaching out and building relationships with the people who talk about this stuff and this can be bloggers, YouTubers, social media influencers, basically anyone who has a following in your niche
  • Affiliate Marketing – getting your products reviewed and added to best-of lists is a great way to get your brand in front of potential customers and this will also include links back to your site

This will require some investment but can be extremely helpful in building a brand and while generating sales through these efforts is important, when it comes to branding the most important aspect is getting your brand talked about so make sure that:

  1. Your brand is prominently featured in press releases and blog posts 
  2. That influencers are talking about the brand in their content, not just the product
  3. Any links back to your site’s homepage (which you want) are branded anchor texts

This is because you want to put your brand names into potential customers’ heads so that they start searching for your brand on search engines as ranking for branded search terms is much easier. 

Rank For Your Brand

As the goal of your branding is to get people talking about and searching for your business, you want to make sure that your website ranks number 1 for as many branded search terms as possible, reviews being one of the exceptions. 

And to do this, you need to optimize your site for search by branding your site effectively, including:

  • Setting up your pages properly, including your about page
  • Linking brand mentions on your pages back to your homepage
  • Create a Google Business profile
  • Have all your social media profiles linking back to your site
  • Using Alt tags for logos and any other branded images on your site
  • Getting branded backlinks

Basically letting search engines know that your site is the best site to rank for your branded search term and this will make converting people searching for your site into paying customers. 

How to Maintain A Strong Ecommerce Brand

Building a strong brand is only half of the battle as you want to maintain that brand to help your business grow, so what are some of the things you can do to achieve this?

1. Stay True To Your Brand Values

Your brand values are the core of your business and if you have built up a loyal customer base, a large part of this will be because your values align with theirs and in order to maintain this loyalty, you need to retain the values that got you that customer in the first place. 

A big mistake that many brands make is that they lose sight of this, whether through the influence of internal parties such as new managers or marketers or by responding to outside events and they either abandon their old values completely or end up with a messy mish-mash of new and old values that manage to alienate everyone. 

While there may be times you need to adapt your values, don’t forget what brought you to the dance and if possible try and avoid major changes, instead make small changes that aren’t as noticeable. 

2. Being Consistent With Your Branding Strategy

Branding is an ongoing part of running an ecommerce business, just the way that marketing is and as with many long-term strategies, consistency is the key so carry on doing the things that helped you build your brand. 

So once you have found your brands style, make sure that this is part of your complete marketing strategy, whether it is posting YouTube videos or social media content, working with influencers or being an active member of your niche as this will help your audience become more familiar with your brand and they also come to expect that your content will be delivered in a certain way. 

3. Reviews

One thing that can be helpful in maintaining your brand is by getting reviews from your existing customers as this leads to social proof, which is basically a digital form of word-of-mouth marketing and many people who are new to your brand want to see what existing customers think of your brand. 

So start asking your existing customers if they would like to leave you a review and you can choose to do this as specific product reviews or reviewing your business as a whole on things like Google, Facebook or third-party reviews sites such as Trustpilot and these reviews will appear when new potential customers start searching for your brand. 

Business moves quickly and you need to be up to date when it comes to what is happening in your industry and in some cases you might need to adapt your branding strategy to keep in line with these trends, especially if your main target audience is influenced by these trends but as mentioned earlier, try and avoid major changes as this can cause potential problems, especially if it involves a complete change in your brand’s values, message or style. 

Conclusion

When done well, branding can be the difference between an ecommerce business not only succeeding but also staying the course as it is the businesses that have an ongoing strategy around their branding along with the ability to adapt that survive the test of time. 

And as we have covered in this post, there are three fundamental stages to building your ecommerce brand:

  1. Laying the Foundations – this is planning out your branding elements
  2. Building Your Brand – this is where you start putting your business out there and getting it in front of the eyes of your target audience
  3. Maintaining Your Brand – this is where you have built your brand but you work on not only maintaining what you have already achieved but look at continued growth 

It will take time, effort and potentially a decent investment but if done correctly, branding can pay off big time in the long run. 

Hi, I'm Paul, the Owner and Founder of EcommerceGold.
I ran my own Ecommerce Business for over 7 years and now help others start their own online retail empires!

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