As a new ecommerce owner, you might have spent hours designing a logo. You will have tried countless fonts, colors, and options. And while your logo is an important part of your brand, it’s not the only element you should consider.
Here are several branding basics for ecommerce store owners that are easy to understand and apply. By investing time in your brand and brand experience, you elevate your business above the competition.
So if a brand is more than a logo, what do I need to consider?
Getting your brand “right” is a critical part of how you execute your digital marketing strategy. Let’s explore each of these topics and help you better understand branding basics for ecommerce stores and online retailers.
How Does Design Affect How You Brand Your Business?
For most people, brand equals logo. And while this is a part of it, it’s not the complete picture. So we need to develop a deeper understanding of branding. Thankfully, that’s easy!
A brand is linked with the overall customer experience. It’s the logo, how the customer service rep answers their email, the voice and tone the brand uses in their marketing, and more.
Let’s start with design.
What I mean by design is the basic colors, font, and text sizes you use to represent your business. These should be consistent between your logo, invoice template, social images, and packaging.
Consider retailing giant IKEA. You’ll think of yellow and blue. I bet if you have ever seen blue and yellow together, you think of IKEA. They have used these two colors for YEARS and stuck with the identical shades of colors, making it obvious to you, the customer.
Build a better brand look by:
- Choosing one or two fonts
- Select two or three primary colors
- Deciding where/ when you’ll use these colors and fonts
- Work with a designer to create a theme that incorporates these ideas
Choose one or two fonts
Keep how your brand looks by limiting yourself to one or two key fonts. Your logo, headlines, and adverts might use one iconic font that makes you stand out from the rest.
You can then use a secondary font for the body text or use something neutral like Arial.
Our brand’s logo uses Trebuchet MS. We then use Sans-serif for body text in adverts, the website, and documentation. By having clarity on these two elements, we can easily maintain consistency.
So, start by picking one or two fonts that best suit your business.
Select two or three primary colors
Just like limiting yourself to a few fonts, you should do the same with colors. Stick to two or three primary colors on top of black and white.
IKEA uses blue and Yellow. Mcdonald’s brand color palette is made up of Yellow, Red, and Black. And, we use Blue and Orange.
Whatever colors you end up with, note down the RGB values to ensure you can consistently use the same hues across your business. This is vitally important.
Deciding where/when you’ll use these colors and fonts
As the goal is consistency, you need to consider when you’ll use your primary color and font. Are they only used in the logo? Or will every heading use them?
You might want to test different options to figure out where to best use your chosen colors and font. Once you have this sorted, it’s your job to enforce the standards and maintain consistency!
Work with a designer to create a theme that incorporates these ideas
You’ll now have a better idea of what colors and fonts you want to use that best represent how you want your brand to be perceived. It’s worth taking your ideas to a graphic designer and having them build a logo.
Also, take some time to build your own brand style guide document as this will help you maintain standards and consistency throughout your marketing. It’s well worth the couple of hours it takes.
Does Your Brand Feel Different?
When thinking about branding basics for ecommerce, an element that’s rarely spoken about is the feeling. A good brand feels different, the experience is better than a generic webshop, and feels like you’re almost shopping in a store with a personal shopper.
One thing we help our clients do is figure out how to create a unique experience where the user feels different after visiting their ecommerce store. Their transformation must feel real for it to matter.
For a brand to be different, it must stand for something and be uncompromising. It must sell its transformation, not just products.
As branding guru, Simon Middleton says in his TEDx talk, brand is the meaning we collectively agree on when thinking about a company. His 20 minute TEDx talk is worth watching.
Take Ralph Lauren, for example. You can buy a polo shirt from a thousand different shops, many of which are more affordable. However, Ralph uses their website to sell a lifestyle that you buy when you purchase a product.
Wearing a Ralph Lauren polo elevates you to being a more sophisticated, stylish person with more confidence.
Another brand I admire is Clive Christian, which makes the world’s most expensive perfumes. Again, you’re not buying a mixture of ingredients in a fancy bottle. You’re buying a piece of the company’s history, prestige, and exclusivity.
Making your brand feel different isn’t complicated. You just need to build a compelling narrative that’s demonstrated by every touchpoint, including the logo, how you talk on social, how you treat customers, and the packaging you use.
Take some time to consider how you want the customer to feel after interacting with your brand. Create a list of words and phrases they should associate with your company.
Have You Solidified Your Brand’s Voice?
Your brand has a voice, just like you do. How you decide your brand communicates will either attract, repel, or confuse people.
Let’s jump into some examples to explain what I mean.
If your brand used a lot of swearing, it’s likely to attract a certain type of person and repel more moderate people who find it vulgar. That’s fine as long as you’ve decided on your ideal customer and are happy only serving them.
Say you use a lot of teenage slang, you’ll confuse us older folk but be seen as cool by people under 25. Again, if that’s the goal, go for it!
Talking in puns is likely to draw middle-aged men towards your brand and make their partners sigh!
Defining who your ideal client is and how they want to be spoken to can help you solidify your brand’s voice. If you’re not entirely sure how to best speak to your target customer, you’ll end up confusing them with mixed messaging.
We see this often when a founder hands the marketing off to someone else without clear brand guidelines or getting them to obverse how the founder writes and talks.
So if you don’t want to confuse your target market, you should think about these questions:
- How does my target client want to be spoken to?
- What words/phrases will they never say?
- How do I want to talk to them?
- What words/phrases would I never use?
These 4 basic questions will help you start to clarify your brand’s voice so that you only attract your ideal customer and can easily build a deep relationship with them.
Are You Telling Your Brand’s Story?
Every brand has a compelling story to tell. Often, the problem is most people don’t understand how to build an engaging narrative that sells.
Let me paint a picture to explain. A lot of founders right their brand’s story. They typically start with “Back in 1967 my father started a small shoe store, in 1999 I took over and started to build a webstore. By 2008 we’d expanded to 4 stores and an ecommerce store doing $1m in sales.“
Sorry. It’s bland. I nearly fell asleep writing it!
Let’s try rewriting it so it’s more enticing and exciting to the end customer.
“After searching for fairly priced, decent quality shoes, my father took matters into his own hands. The year was 1967, and the high street was still full of life. Yet there was an empty shop between the baker and the newsagent.
It wasn’t massive, only 330 sq feet – but plenty for him to get started. Fast forward to 1999, and I joined the business. We also had expanded to 4 stores, all selling Nike, Reebox, and Clarks shoes. A few short years later we launched online, and the business exploded overnight!
Today, we serve over half a million customers from our four shops and online each year. However you add that up, it’s a load of shoes! The team and I are still passionate about supplying high-quality footwear at affordable prices.”
It’s not perfect, but it’s far better than the first paragraph. With a few rewrites, it will convey the business’s why and explain the reasons you should do business with them. Plus, it can act as the start to your about us page.
My top advice with brand stories is, treat yours like an elevator pitch. You should be able to explain why someone should buy from you in under 100 words and make it compelling. If you can’t, hire a copywriter who can help you!
What Is The Brand Experience And Why Does It Matter?
The last stop in our overview of branding basics for ecommerce stores is the overall experience. Hopefully, you understand that your brand is a living, breathing thing.
Even if you purely sell online, every word, color, and font needs to align with how you want to be perceived by your target customers and how they expect the experience to be. You need to find the mid-way point where both of these can happily co-exist.
As the founder, it’s your job to guard the brand experience like it’s your first child. Everything that has your brand’s name on it should align with your values, expectations, and provide the best overall experience.
Branding Basics For Ecommerce Stores
We packed a lot into this article on branding basics for ecommerce stores. The good news is everything we covered is dynamic. You won’t have it all figured out now.
It’ll take you time to explore these questions and find a meaningful answer. That’s fine. Just realize that a brand is more than a logo or a font. It’s how a company makes us feel when we interact with it.
If you want to get better at branding, you should study your favorite ones. Go deep and question yourself as to why do you like them, what do they represent, and how can you replicate that in your business.
Once you understand and apply the branding basics to your ecommerce store, you’ll see more customers want to buy from you as they are attracted to what you stand for and how you like to communicate.
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