To say building a brand is necessary to succeed in the eCommerce industry is an understatement. On a very deep psychological level, people feel at ease when dealing with well-managed brands.
We have seen this phenomenon play out across industries through Fulfillrite. As a fulfillment company, we ship a variety of different products. We can safely say that the ones with strong brands do better online, no matter what the industry.
At its core, marketing performs three functions:
Branding is primarily concerned with the third function. It is, of course, based upon meeting a real need and meeting it well. That communication part is where so many potentially brilliant companies go awry. They never meet their true potential.
When you talk to a person, you expect them to behave in a certain way. If they’re inconsistent in their behavior, you may deride them as flaky or volatile. Similarly, brands and the consistency in behavior that comes along with them, helps us to personify brands. We stop seeing items and we start seeing, for lack of a better word, personality.
A clean, consistent brand evokes emotion. From that emotion, you have the beginning of a relationship. At the beginning, your relationship with your customers may be only transactional. Ultimately, though, you want people to associate positive emotions with your brand. In doing so, you condition them to return and refer you to their friends.
In short, the brand sparks the emotion that starts the relationship that makes the sale that leads to desired consumer behavior. For this reason, branding is critically important to your marketing strategy. Nowhere is this more true on the internet where options abound and leaving you for a 1% cheaper competitor is so incredibly easy. To thrive, uniqueness is your only option.
We would be remiss if we left our advice so abstract and high-level. That brings us to…
The goal of branding is to make your company stand out. At the same time, you need to remain consistent because branding is used to condition customers to purchase from you again and again.
There are a billion different ways to approach branding. You be minimalist or baroque in your design. You may focus on simple reliability like Ikea, a sense of luxury like Apple, nostalgia like Coca-Cola, or something else entirely. What you choose is ultimately up to you and your business objectives.
Whatever you do: pick a style and stick to it. It’s said that people need to see seven marketing messages from you before they take action. That’s why your logo, color schemes, typefaces, and overall experience need to be congruous from one interaction to the next.
Uniqueness matters. What could possibly be more unique than unforced, honest relationships? Many find the modern world to be alienating and isolating because of the increased reliance on technology and the superficiality of online communication. That makes genuine, real, deeper conversation stand out.
Relationships cannot be copied, borrowed, stolen, or reverse engineered. Human connection remains a unique way to set yourself apart from the competition. Best of all, it’s available to every business no matter how big or small.
Customers are not fools. After being burned once or twice, a customer will not buy from you again if they are unhappy. If you truly seek to be unique – the whole point of branding – low quality won’t get the job done.
Let’s return to Ikea, Apple, and Coca-Cola. Ikea furniture is always stylish, compact, and neat – and their disproportionately Millennial customer base returns again and again. An iPhone seldom causes its customers trouble. Coca-Cola is the same well-tested recipe in every single can, relentless in its precise ratio of sugar to water. Indeed, even our own company advertises its consistent 5 star ratings as a differentiating factor.
I’ve yet to meet any marketer capable of reading minds. Call me if you prove me wrong on this.
The point is you can craft the most beautiful branding strategy only to have it fall flat in reality. You need a constant feedback loop to succeed. Gather information from customers, make tweaks to your brand, and repeat. Do this as many times as it takes.
Retail stores can express their brand in a variety of ways when you arrive. Brick and mortar stores can tweak the arrangement of shelves, the layout, and the decor. They communicate in the way employees treat you and the way prices are displayed or not displayed prominently.
For eCommerce stores, the rules are different. A fantastic website goes a long way, but it’s easy to miss the physical experience. At some point, your customer will be opening the package. What do you want that experience to be like?
Custom packaging can go a long way! Items wrapped in custom packaging engage your customers’ senses and create emotional experiences. This is so critical to branding – it’s a great way to keep customers coming back.
Last but not least, shipping is branding when you run an eCommerce store. Packages need to arrive quickly and intact. In fact, this is so important that we’ve built an entire business out of making sure packages arrive quickly and intact.
We live in a world where 63% of online shoppers expect three-day delivery. In this world, fast delivery is no longer a differentiating factor but a basic expectation. If your package takes forever to arrive, then it can sully your brand. This simple fact cannot be neglected!
To survive in the world of eCommerce, it is critical to build a brand. By following some of the simple tips above, you can impress your customers and keep them coming back for more!