Ecommerce 101: Branding For Beginners

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Ah, the holy grail of marketing: branding. Branding refers to style and experience of your business that makes it clear it’s yours and not someone else’s. It is a process that can be the make or break for your company.

Here are some things to know about branding, and tips on how to design your brand to make you stand out.

Hello, It’s Great To Meet You

First Impressions

Your brand is a huge part of what makes a first impression (along with the design and optimisation of your website). When you’re starting out, ask yourself the question “what do I want someone who lands on my site to experience?” and build from there. Is it confidence? Is it curiosity? Is it a wow factor? Your logo, colouring, design and text all are branding tools that feed into this first impression.

Bonus Read: What's The Difference Between Branding & Brand Identity?

Looking Good

Choosing a logo that is bold, clear and recognisable – super easy, right? If you’ve got an eye for design yourself but don’t have design software, you can try using PicMonkey which is an online tool with plenty of features. (Shopify’s Logo Designer is a bit clunky). Here are a few tips on making a logo design simple, memorable and working for you.

Otherwise, it’s a good investment to hire a designer that has branding experience from a site like Dribble or Fiverr which both offer freelance designer services on the cheap. Once you’ve got a logo you’re happy with, test it with potential customers.

Quick tip: Ready to print business cards with your shiny new logo and domain? Here are some free services.

What’s In A Name?

A lot. Choosing a name is part inspiration, part detective work, and part trial and error. Here are a few rules of thumb when choosing a name. 

  • Keep it super simple, and pretty short (one or two words, about 9 letters long)

  • Have it evoke some kind of imagery or word association -- even if it’s not direct

  • Make sure it isn’t copyrighted already

  • Make sure the domain is available

A first step is to use Shopify’s domain generator tool. You can also try using a generator tool like DomainsBot to see name suggestions based on your searches, and to find out if the domain you want is available (or will be soon). Take a look at these domain extensions to broaden your possibilities outside of the .com world.

Choosing Your Market

Branding your product should, of course, be directed at your target market. Your branding will show whether you’re competing on cost, quality, novelty, or convenience. It won’t speak to every group of people, and that’s ok. Many business owners are afraid that upselling to high earners means losing the middle, or that downgrading to make your products cost-competitive means losing high earners who are focused more on quality. This is a valid concern.

Testing, testing

Testing out your products to find out what the market actually is, as opposed to what you assume it is, is always a good idea. If you don’t have the time and resources to conduct large consumer surveys, try a little DIY.

  • Ask people in several of your circles about your product, gauge interest and find out their willingness to pay

  • Dig through common online retailers and see what similar products are selling for (and how they’re advertised). Take a look at the variation in price

  • Hold a (or a few) focus group of 5-10 people and ask them questions about your product. Take note of the demographics that seem most interested, and ask what the most important aspects of your product are (price, quality, functionality, convenience, etc).

Building Trust

Get testimonials for your products

People are much more likely to trust you if you’re not the only one saying your products are great. Testimonials from product reviewers and previous customers go a long way. You can add a feature to your shopify store that lets customers write reviews, and you can collect testimonials in your product testing phase before you launch. Try sending follow up emails to your customers, encouraging them to review the order they just received.

Responding to issues right away

If you have a customer service issue and don’t hear back for several days after you contact a company, you feel pretty uneasy about them. Respond to your customers within 24 hours, even if it’s just say you’ll look into the matter further and give them a timeline for when it will be resolved.

Thank your customers

Sending your customers a thank you or follow up after they place their order can go a long way in building trust. It sends the message that your business is paying attention to them, and they’ll be more likely to remember your customer service. Here are a few creative ways to say thanks.

Check out our previous post on using emotion to reach more customers and build their trust.

Consistency Is King

One of the most important aspects of branding is consistency. Consistency comes in many forms, including:

  • How often you post blogs or release new product lines

  • Phrasing, syntax and spelling throughout your site and across platforms

  • The way you conduct customer service

  • Aesthetics from one of your website pages to another

Keep consistency in mind whenever you’re representing your business online or in person. Try regularly scheduling posts and launches, so your customers know what to expect. Set out your own style guide and make sure anyone that is publishing on behalf of your brand is sticking to it.

Personal Branding

One of the biggest trends of the past decade is the idea of personal branding. People are selling their human capital instead of products. While products come and go, your human capital only improves. Whether you’re a fitness trainer, a life coach, an architect, a health practitioner or have any other service to offer that’s based on your innate talents or long-term expertise, your personal brand is a great base.

Start by claiming a domain name and as many platforms as you can muster. Check the site Know Em to see what sites are available, and claim them as soon as possible (especially if you have a common name).

Personal branding is all about communicating why you have skills that others don’t. Write articles and guest posts, blog about success stories you have, take photos of yourself in your line of work, and show off your good work on as many social platforms as possible. Remember, if you’re branding yourself, every social platform of yours is part of your business impression.

Don’t worry, we can help. 

The concept of branding can seem overwhelming for those new to it, but it’s something thousands of entrepreneurs have succeeded at. Elkfox can help you build your Shopify store in a way that shows off your brand and helps you improve your conversion. Contact us for help on branding and building your first website.

Next Up In Our Series

We’re rolling out a series on launching your own ecommerce business. Last, we talked about the types of ecommerce stores and what they sell. Next up: setting up your store on the cheap.