One of the key components of starting a successful ecommerce business is to build a brand that people know about and actively want to buy from.
But what do you need to do in order to build a successful brand?
That is what we are going to cover in this guide from setting the foundations to getting your brand out there.
One of the keys to successful branding is to have the basics or the foundations of your branding in place as this is what you are going to build from.
1. Your Business Name
At the core of your brand is your business name but coming up with a good one is becoming more difficult because of some of the elements on this list but ideally, you want your brand name to be:
- Short – good brand names are usually 1 to 2 words
- Memorable – so that people not only remember your name but also how it is spelled
And while you may be able to brainstorm a few names, you need to find one that fits your business.
But before you commit to a business name, check on points two and three below as brand continuity is hugely important.
2. Your Domain Name
Your domain name should be the same as your business name and if you look at most successful brands, you will find that this is the case and you also want your domain name to have what is known as a TLD or Top Level Domain, which is the suffix at the end of the domain name such as .com.
Which TLD you opt for can depend on where you are selling to, for example:
- If you are selling to the US or internationally, then you ideally want to go for a .com
- If you are just selling to a single country, then you can opt for the country-specific TLD such as .ca for Canada, .co.uk for the UK or .com.au for Australia
But getting TLDs is becoming more difficult and you may find that your ideal domain is already in use or someone has bought it and is trying to resell it for a profit (sometimes a very large profit!) and this is where you might have to look at alternatives, such as:
- Other TLD including .co, .net and .org
- Modifications such as hyphens or additional words
And while these can be appealing and a quick fix to getting your store up and running, could going for one of these options cause potential problems in the future? Such as people going to the .com for example only to find your site isn’t there.
Sometimes it is better to think again and set up a solid foundation for your brand, rather than going for a quick fix.
Top Tip – avoid using companies that offer a free or 99¢ domain name as the renewal fees can be very high and you may need to pay in order to transfer it to another company. One of our favorite domain name providers is Namecheap as they are reasonably priced, transparent and have good customer service.
3. Social Media Accounts
The next step is to check to see if the relevant social media accounts are available for your chosen name, so check for:
And any other social media platform you are planning on using as you want to achieve brand continuity across all of your online channels but you may encounter the same problem as with the domain names in that the name may already be in use or it is a dormant account (which is very frustrating!).
If you find that all but one account is available, then you are more than likely on to a winner and in this situation, it is fine to go for a slight modification such as an underscore in the name but always keep checking to see if your desired one becomes available.
4. Your Logo
Once you have got all of your names and accounts sorted, you want to create a logo for your business and one mistake that many businesses make is creating some really elaborate logo but if you look at nearly every successful brand, their logos are nearly always very simple.
But there are some key things you want to think about:
- Will it be text only, a design or a combination of both?
- What font are you going to use?
- What colors will you use?
- Will the design work on your website, socials, products and packaging?
When it comes to creating your logo, you can use tools like Canva that offer lots of design elements or you can outsource this process to a graphic designer who specializes in creating logos.
Brand Example – Nike
While there were many examples of logo branding that we could have chosen, we think Nike is one of the best as their logo is instantly recognizable.
And if you see just the tick on its own, whether on a piece of clothing or a pair of sneakers, you just know that they a Nike, they also replicated this with the Nike Jordan brand they created.
5. Brand Colors
One thing that many people don’t think about when developing their brand is colors and they can make a big impact, so much so that some brands are instantly recognizable (and sometimes trademark their colors) and a great example of this is Tiffany with their Tiffany Blue and yes, it is trademarked.
When it comes to your brand colors, you want to decide if they are going to be used:
- In your logo
- On your website
- On your packaging
And when it comes to colors, different types of colors can work for different types of businesses, for example:
- Luxury Brands often use deep rich colors
- Tech brands often use bright and vibrant colors
- Health and Wellness often use pastel colors
You may already have a color in mind but checking out what your competition, especially what the established brands are using can give you a good indication of the type of color you should be using as they have probably spent a lot of money researching it.
Brand Example: Tiffany & Co
You know you have nailed a color when it is named after your brand, which is exactly what Tiffany & Co has done as the greeny-blue color that appears on their logo and packages is known as Tiffany Blue.
6. Your Brand Message
Your brand message is the core values of your business and what you want to achieve with your business, which is something you want to communicate through your branding as this is going to help you connect with your target audience who share those same values.
This is going to vary between niches and businesses but your brand’s message could be around:
- Environmental Issues
- Providing the best product out there
- Providing the best value
When it comes to sharing your brand’s message, you want this to clearly be displayed on your website and also include it within your marketing efforts, such as social media posts and it doesn’t need to be complicated and in many cases having a clear and concise message can be the best way to go.
7. Brand Tone
Your brand’s tone can be thought of as its personality and just like people, every business has its own tone and this can once again help you connect with your target audience and there are many different types of tone that a brand could adopt and we’ve listed some of these below:
- Luxury and Sophisticated – this will often be used by high-end brands
- Exciting – often used by brands whose products are used for things that get your adrenaline pumping
- Rugged – for brands whose products are designed to be used and sometimes abused
- Calm and Relaxing – often used by brands who sell products to help you relax and improve your mental and/or physical health
Your brand’s tone will come through in the language you use on your site and social media posts, the style of your digital media such as images and videos and the way that you communicate with your customer base.
Building A Brand
Once you have all of your brand’s foundations in place it is time to start building on that so that people know who you are and what you do.
1. Rank 1st For Your Brand Name
As the goal of your branding and marketing efforts are to get people talking about and searching for your business, you want to make sure that your website ranks number 1 for as many branded search terms as possible, with reviews being one of the exceptions.
And to do this, you need to optimize your site for search by branding your site effectively, including:
- Setting up your pages properly, including your home and about page
- Linking brand mentions on your pages back to your homepage
- Create a Google Business profile
- Have all your social media profiles linking back to your site
- Using Alt tags for logos and any other branded images on your site
- Getting branded backlinks
Basically letting search engines know that your site is the best site to rank for your branded search terms and this will make converting people searching for your site into paying customers.
2. Know Your Target Audience
A key component of building a successful brand is to know who your target audience is, as this is going to help you not only start molding your branding so that it appeals to them but it also makes creating a marketing strategy a lot easier as you know who you are going to be targeting.
When it comes to finding your target audience, it can be helpful to picture what your ideal customer would be, including:
- Age range
You will probably appeal to wider or secondary audiences but your core efforts for your branding and marketing should be focused on putting your business in front of your core audience.
3. Run A Digital PR Campaign
Digital PR is one of the best ways to start getting your brand out there as you are actively contacting the types of people who talk about brands like yours, including journalists, publications and bloggers with the goal of:
- Getting more coverage of your brand by creating awareness of it
- Improving your site’s SEO as you will usually build some backlinks as a result
- Build relationships with the people/businesses mentioned above as you may run another PR campaign in the future and having existing relationships makes this much easier
Many people just focus on the SEO aspect of Digital PR but it can provide so much more than a few backlinks (even though it can get you some awesome ones) as it can get people talking about your brand, which can result in people actively looking for your brand online, which can lead to:
- More traffic
- More sales
- Potentially growing your email list
- Increased social media followers
The last two can be very beneficial as you now have direct access to people who are interested in your brand.
4. Start Influencer Marketing
Influencers are now playing a key part in building a brand, with more and more businesses looking to work in partnership with influencers in order to get their product in front of an audience that they would struggle to reach on their own.
To run a successful influencer marketing campaign, you need to partner with the right influencers who have:
- A good sized but more importantly engaged following
- Have a following that matches your target audience
Because there are quite a lot of “influencers” out there who have got large followings but actually struggle to influence people to actually buy things.
So it is all about finding the right influencers but also the right size influencers as trying to partner with huge names in your niche from the very start could have a negative effect, especially if you weren’t able to cope with the demand but we have covered this and more in our Beginner’s Guide to Influencer Marketing for Ecommerce.
Brand Example: Gymshark
One of the best examples of influencer marketing done right is Gymshark as they partnered with fitness influencers, who not only promoted their product but also wore it in their content.
This helped Gymshark become one of the fastest growing clothing brands within the fitness niche, which is very competitive and are now one of the biggest influencers themselves, none of which would have been achievable had they not had a successful influencer marketing campaign.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is another great way to build a brand and can easily be tied in with Digital PR and Influencer Marketing as you are incentivizing people to promote your brand because they earn a commission whenever anyone buys your product through their unique link.
This will also give your brand a greater presence online as your partners will be mentioning your brand on their blogs, in their YouTube videos and on their social media accounts, which once again may be getting your products in front of an audience that you might struggle to reach otherwise.
Setting up an affiliate program can also be a relatively inexpensive way of building your brand, building relationships (affiliate marketing is a great conversation starter with some influencers) and generating sales as you only pay when a sale is made through your link.
6. Stay True To Your Brand Values
Your brand values are the core of your business and if you have built up a loyal customer base, a large part of this will be because your values align with theirs and in order to maintain this loyalty, you need to retain the values that got you that customer in the first place.
A big mistake that many brands make is that they lose sight of this, whether through the influence of internal parties such as new managers or marketers or by responding to outside events and they either abandon their old values completely or end up with a messy mish-mash of new and old values that manage to alienate everyone.
While there may be times you need to adapt your values, don’t forget what brought you to the dance and if possible try and avoid major changes, instead make small changes that aren’t as noticeable.
7. Being Consistent With Your Branding Strategy
Branding is an ongoing part of running an ecommerce business, just the way that marketing is and as with many long-term strategies, consistency is the key so carry on doing the things that helped you build your brand.
So once you have found your brands style, make sure that this is part of your complete marketing strategy, whether it is posting YouTube videos or social media content, working with influencers or being an active member of your niche as this will help your audience become more familiar with your brand and they also come to expect that your content will be delivered in a certain way.
One thing that can be helpful when it comes to branding is getting reviews from your existing customers as this leads to social proof, which is basically a digital form of word-of-mouth marketing and many people who are new to your brand want to see what existing customers think of your brand.
So start asking your existing customers if they would like to leave you a review and you can choose to do this as specific product reviews or reviewing your business as a whole on things like Google, Facebook or third-party reviews sites such as Trustpilot and these reviews will appear when new potential customers start searching for your brand.
When done well, branding can be the difference between an ecommerce business not only succeeding but also staying the course as it is the businesses that have an ongoing strategy around their branding along with the ability to adapt that survive the test of time.
And as we have covered in this post, there are two fundamental stages to building your ecommerce brand:
- Branding Basics – this is planning out your branding elements
- Building Your Brand – this is where you start putting your business out there and getting it in front of the eyes of your target audience
It will take time, effort and potentially a decent investment but if done correctly, branding can pay off big time in the long run.