Crafting a brand takes more than just an eye-catching logo and a polished tagline – it’s about creating a positive and lasting identity for your business.
Before you can begin showing your brand to an audience, you need to understand it inside and out.
This is called developing a brand identity.
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Your brand identity needs to reflect the essence of your business, what you are doing, who for and why?
It’s also about making your brand unique. In the world of ecommerce, you have to ask yourself, what are you offering that no one else is? Chances are that there will be numerous online stores offering the same or similar services or products to you, so what makes you stand out against the competition?
Once you can answer that question, you will have something to offer your customers that they won’t find anywhere else.
If it helps, think of your brand as a person. List the following questions and create answers in order to build up an idea in your mind of what your brand ‘is’;
- What do they look like?
- How old are they?
- How do they dress?
- Who do they hang out with?
- What places do they visit?
- Favourite colour?
- Attitude – are they quiet, loud, chatty, serious, etc…?
These questions will give your brand a persona that will guide the style and tone of your business moving forward.
Whenever a new decision or direction is proposed, you should always come back to your brand persona and ask ‘does this fit?’
Following on from Brand Identity comes Brand Uniformity.
This is where you ensure that all platforms that you promote your ecommerce business on, be it Facebook, Google+ or on your own website, has the same uniform look and style.
The reasoning behind this is to breed familiarity with your brand. You want your customers to identify your brand quickly via a combination of colour scheme, font and imagery.
Take a look at Ben and Jerry’s for example. The well-known ice cream brand utilises similar imagery and styling across three different platforms; the website, Facebook and Twitter.
The key is to make any of your platforms instantly recognisable so your potential customer will know who you are no matter how they landed on the page.
This should also extend across all items with your brand or logo on them. Studies have shown that promotional products are vital to marketing and useful products, such as mugs and pens, can leave a strong brand impression on your potential customers.
One of the biggest advantages that smaller businesses have at their disposal is an ability to connect with customers on a personal level.
Ustar Novels is an excellent example of how a simple personalisation idea can be turned into a successful business. After discovering a gap in the market, the business was created with a simple premise; personalised books.
This being said, personalisation is not just an area for smaller businesses to succeed in. Personalised coke bottles were created as part of the #ShareACoke campaign which encouraged people to find bottles with their names on and share them with their friends.
This is an international company with thousands of employees around the world and yet it was able to connect with its target audience on an intimate level, simply by addressing them by their first names.
Whether you are a large or small ecommerce business, personalisation is about allowing customers to see you as the person behind the brand. Showing you are more than just a brand will develop your identity in the minds of your customers.
Using social media to promote your brand is not a desperate attempt to be ‘trendy’, rather it is a very useful tool in any ecommerce arsenal.
One highly important detail, especially when referring to small or start up business, is that social platforms like Twitter and Facebook are free to use. You can pay for sponsored or boosted ads but the key to success in social is engagement.
Because of recent Facebook updates, it has now become harder to businesses to stand out and so this means you will have to work harder to make your content connect with your target audience.
To make your brand stand out, you will need to put some serious research into the kind of content that is currently being shared by your business in the past, as well as similar ecommerce websites via social, and look at what you can do to improve on it.
The Insights tab on Facebook has been created specifically to help you monitor and track the success and engagement of your posts so use it.
Once you have started to develop your brand as someone that stands out against the crowd, the important thing now is to not lose momentum.
You should always be on the look-out for ways to improve your brand reputation. If you stand still too long you will become stagnant and someone else will come along and scoop up your share of the consumer market with fresh new ideas.
Here are a few ways you can keep up with trends within your industry and maintain your business growth;
- Read as much as you can regarding industry updates, including articles, blog posts and opinion pieces
- Engage with your current customers regularly to get their feedback on how you are performing
- Reach out to your team for new ideas on a monthly basis, if not more often. They will often come up with things you never dreamt of
- Connect with those within your industry for their opinion of changing trends. It doesn’t hurt to talk to your competitors in a neutral setting, as long as you don’t start giving away your company secrets.
When it comes to creating and cultivating your brand identity, there is a lot you can do, so don’t sit back and expect things to change by themselves.
Brand identity is all about keeping things current and relevant and it is up to you to mould your brand in a way that reflects you as a business. After all, if you don’t believe in your brand, how can you expect anyone else to?