25 July 2017
So you’ve decided you want to create your e-commerce store and you already know what you want to sell. You’ve researched the competition and are now ready to start getting set up.
Hold on! Before you create your site you should think about your branding. This will then guide you in your choices of a theme and the design, as well as how you will communicate to potential customers.
When you decided what to sell you probably had a customer in mind. What would this customer expect to see from your brand? Is your brand playful? Elegant? Are you trying to convey you have low prices? How exactly do you want to portray your brand?
You might think it’s too early to need to think about your brand. If you don’t, however, you will miss an opportunity to get everything right from the beginning. If you leave it to later you might then need to redo your site and marketing materials.
Another advantage of thinking about it before you start is that you’ll be working on distinguishing your brand from others and helping to build customer loyalty from the beginning. Your brand will also seem more credible if you take the time to establish it.
Take the example of water, a product which doesn’t change a whole lot. One of the following currently costs more than twice as much as the other. Can you guess which one?
You probably have different associations with Evian than with the generic brand bottle of water from your supermarket. Let’s face it, this is mostly because of the branding and marketing. If all the bottles looked exactly the same or had a generic logo you probably wouldn’t feel the products differed much.
So what are the basic branding points you should consider before launching your store?
The brand story includes the:
It might be a little tricky to have a clear brand story right from the beginning but it’s helpful. If you have an idea of what your brand represents and what your customers might expect it will help you come up with the rest of your branding.
Different colours are associated with different emotions and concepts. When you look at the four dresses below, does one colour stand out to you as the best?
It is likely you chose the red dress, a colour associated with romance, passion and sexy outfits.
When you choose your brand colours you should keep in mind the associations people have. One study asked people to look at various made-up logos in different colours and express what they evoked.
They found that people associated, blue logos with confidence, success and reliability, green logos with environmental friendliness, toughness, durability, masculinity and sustainability, purple logos with femininity, glamor and charm, pink logos with youth, imagination and fashionable, yellow logos with fun and modernity, and red logos with expertise and self-assurance.
Your logo should be clear and simple. If you decide to design it yourself, first start out only in black. Then once you’ve come up with a design, try printing it out very small to see how it looks and if it’s still recognisable.
Then add colours, 3-4 maximum. This will make it easy to reproduce, not only on your website but if you decide to print it. It should also be a vector file so that it can easily be scaled later if you need to print it at various sizes. Although you might not need to print it in the near future, if you later do need to print it, especially in a large format, such as banners or posters, you may find it cheaper to print with less colours.
What font will you use for your brand? The font might be used in the logo, the advertising and on the website, among other places.
Here are two brand logos which are just made of the brand names with no image and yet you can see that the choice of font and colour conveys the brand image. Even if you didn’t know the brands you could guess which one is a cheap fashion chain and which one represents a more luxurious brand.
Check out the following two fonts used as an example. Does this font look right for a hardware store? How about the colour and logo?
How about this for a jewellery store? Does the font, colour and logo appear credible for this type of store? Would you purchase jewellery from this store?
How about if that font was used for a site selling gadgets and toys aimed at twelve-year-old boys? Would it seem more appropriate in that case?
The above examples simply combine fonts you can download with some free icons from the site flaticon.com. For a more professional look you can hire a designer online. There are various sites which offer this service, some for as little as five dollars.
You probably have an idea of your target audience if you’ve been considering what to sell and whether there is a market for it. It can be helpful to try to imagine some of your target customers in detail to create buyer personas. This will help guide you when you plan how to market your site and how to communicate with them
Is your brand’s tone casual? Friendly? Formal? Authoritative? If you have an idea of how your brand will communicate its message and interact with clients you can use this to guide you when writing for your site, advertising, and communicating with clients.
If you browse the Twitter accounts of vastly different companies you can see how the tone of the messages clearly reflects the brand. The American fast food chain, Wendy’s, received a lot of coverage for its funny, snarky tweets. Compare Wendy’s twitter feed with that of the pharmaceutical brand Sanofi, which takes a more serious tone. They are vastly different but both are suited to their respective customer base and fit with the branding.
When you have your brand story and audience in mind, you can decide on the appropriate tone and then apply it all your site and brand communications.
Focusing on branding is an important early step when creating your e-commerce business so take your time to get this right. It will save you time later and simplify other steps, such as designing the site and coming up with a marketing campaign.
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