More than a store: 4 ways to brand your ecommerce business

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There’s a big difference between running an ecommerce business and cultivating a brand. An online store facilitates transactions—it’s got product pages and payment gateways.

But a brand goes beyond mere functionality. Ecommerce brands have unique identities that set them apart from competitors. So yes, to have a brand you must first have the business logistics squared away. But these days, it’s not enough to create a functional website and wait for customers to arrive; it’s also imperative to develop a recognizable brand as a means to connect with online users.

The most successful ecommerce businesses are more than just stores; they’re brands. Here are four branding strategies to consider.

Create a Visual Strategy

People identify and internalize brands on sight. Just think about some of the most effective and enduring brand symbols: the golden arches of McDonald’s, Nike’s swoosh, Amazon’s arrow reminiscent of a smile pointing from A to Z. Thinking of certain brands evokes certain colors, fonts and design choices. Brands can even exude a mood or a lifestyle, all based on savvy aesthetic choices.

Your ecommerce store needs a visual strategy. Yes, functionality is key. People must be able to navigate your store easily to find what they need. However, offering bare-bones usability is unlikely to leave an impression in visitors’ minds—and that’s a missed opportunity to brand your company.

The major elements of your visual strategy are color, font, logo and your website theme. The aesthetic these elements create will help convey your brand values. After all, people make judgments about what your company stands for based on what they see. This is why environmentally conscious companies tend to use natural imagery and colors to mirror their commitment to the earth.

Scratch a Specific “Itch”

Using a broad definition of ecommerce from Shopify, your company’s job is to handle the transfer of data and money required to sell consumers the products they desire. But lots of stores can do that. Whatever you sell—clothes, home décor, gadgets, furniture, camping gear, makeup, kitchen utensils, etc.—there are undoubtedly other stores selling similar products. What sets your store apart from others is the brand behind it. The best brands scratch a specific “itch” or solve a specific problem for shoppers.

An Entrepreneur contributor advises: Identify the need/gap upon which your brand will be built. This will help you figure out your unique selling proposition, also known as the reason customers should buy from you rather than stores selling similar products.

Tell Your Company’s Story

Selling online means you’re forgoing facetime with customers, sure. But your business still has the opportunity to connect with every website visitor. Start by telling your company’s story—something that’ll go a long way toward humanizing your brand.

What makes an interesting brand story? Perhaps your company arose out of interesting circumstances. Maybe you, as the founder, have a relatable background or overcame adverse conditions to get where you are today.

You can describe the exact problem your brand aims to solve. Maybe your company’s changed over the years, meaning you have the opportunity to outline where you are today vs. where you started. Perhaps your company got its name from an influential person, idea or phenomenon.

People love stories. Pay attention to the story you’re telling, both on the “About Us” page and on social media. A good story can establish a legacy people want to support.

Convey Brand Personality

Think as if your brand were a person. How would it talk to people? What would its interests be? Make sure you’re using a consistent voice across platforms to express your brand’s unique personality.

Launching an ecommerce business is just a start.

Turning it into an enduring brand should be your ultimate goal.