“Branding” means different things to different people, largely based on what industry they work in and their job title. To some, branding is advertising without a clear and immediate transactional goal. To others, it’s giving all your products clever names, just as Starbucks calls a large coffee a “venti” rather than a large. Whatever branding is, we know that it’s the act of furthering a brand.
When it comes to ecommerce, there are a handful of tricks that retailers can use to boost their brand.
Invest in a Great Logo, Then Test It
Logos are often designed quickly. An entrepreneur will spend a lot of time working on their sales model, sourcing products to sell, and studying marketing before they launch a website…but most entreprenuers don’t put a whole lot of time into their logos.
While we don’t necessarily recommend spending thousands and thousands of dollars with a branding agency on logo design, we do think that:
- It’s cheap and easy to get lots of logo design ideas on sites like fiverr.com, 99designs.com, or designcrowd.com
- Once you’ve narrowed a long list of logo options down to 2 or 3, you can use Google Consumer Surveys to quickly and easily get feedback on each design. (In fact, logo design feedback is the main example used when Google explains how their survey system works.)
It’s true that logos can be changed later, but it’s also true that logos are important. They’re one of the most prominent elements of your website design, they’re on every invoice you send out, etc. Logo design is a good place to spend some effort, the sooner the better.
Put Your Logo on Everything
Ever notice how major brands put their logo on everything they can? Trucks, employee uniforms, boxes, labels, invoices, etc. The reason is simple: The more we see something, the more familiar and trusted it becomes.
Therefore, you should place your logo (and your brand name) on:
- All your packaging and boxes
- Any documents you print (invoices, packing slips, survey cards, return authorizations, etc.)
- As watermarks on all your product images, blog pics, etc. (assuming you have the rights to do that)
- As a watermark on any PDFs or other documents you host on your site (again, assuming you have the rights to do so)
It’s a simple thing to watermark product images in bulk (there is software that can do this, as can many ecommerce systems), and all it takes is a little design work to do the rest.
Sell Branded Merchandise on Your Site
When people see a t-shirt or hat with your logo and brand name (aka branded merchandise) for sale on your website, their perception of your company is likely to change. This is because consumers usually don’t see companies selling branded merchandise unless those companies are popular. It’s the old “fake it ’till you make it” rule of marketing: By selling branded merchandise on your website, you’re giving consumers the impression that you’ve got a popular and well-known brand.
Fortunately, selling branded merchandise is easier than ever, and you can do it without any investment in inventory. Sites like Printful and PrintAura (among many, many others) offer systems that allow you to sell branded merchandise on demand, and do so with your existing ecommerce platform.
Send your Customers Stickers, Pens, Magnets, Etc.
Ever got an item in the mail and been surprised to find a cool sticker in the box? You weren’t expecting it, it looks nice, and you start thinking “where should I put this?” Stickers are a staple of auto parts marketing (we talked about them in detail here), but magnets for tool boxes (or refrigerators), pens, and even branded notepads are all appreciated by consumers.
What’s more, guess what happens when you send a customer a free pen, or a magnet for the fridge? Every time they see it or use it, they think of your company. The more they think about your company, the more familiar you become, and the more trust you can build.
Align With A Cause or Group
One of the best ways to grow your own brand is to identify yourself with a stronger brand. While it’s usually best to stay away from polarizing brands (such as political and perhaps religious affiliations), that leaves a lot of options:
- You can support a charity or non-profit by becoming a sponsor
- You can involve your customers in your support by donating a portion of each sale to the group(s) you sponsor
- You can support an advocacy group that your customers are likely to support, like 4×4 retailers who support the BlueRibbon coalition
The key, of course, is to be authentic. Before you slap a charity’s logo on your homepage, it’s a good idea to learn as much about that group as you can. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your company isn’t doing anything that passionate advocates would see as hypocritical…a company that doesn’t recycle while simultaneously supporting the local chapter of the Sierra Club is taking an awful risk (for example).
Follow The Leaders
Summing up, when you’re looking for ways to boost your ecommerce website brand, there are some simple and obvious things you can do (as outlined above).
However, this is just the beginning. If you really want to build a great brand, you need to study the leading companies in the industry (and in the larger consumer marketplace) and see what you can duplicate. If all of the biggest companies in your niche of the parts business are sponsoring race teams, for example, than sponsoring a race team ought to be on your radar.
This doesn’t mean you should follow what everyone else is doing (that may or may not be a good idea), but if all the big companies are sponsoring race teams, it’s a good bet that racing fans are a good source of potential customers. The big brands spend a lot of money determining where they should invest advertising…following their lead is usually a good idea.