When we think of branding for retail, we often think about the elements of a physical store. From the helpfulness of the clerks to the way merchandise is presented to customers upon arrival, it’s easy to quantify the branding experience. Yet, when most small or medium business owners think about the branding experience for their online space, the conversation often doesn’t evolve past the inclusion of a logo, or a nice drop down menu.
The way that online customers experience and interact with your website is also a major part of branding. Luckily, establishing an online brand doesn’t have to be difficult. When branding for eCommerce, you just have to identify the opportunities.
#1. Begin with Web Design
One of the first places that your brand may be apparent, outside of your products, is your overall web design. It should go without saying that your site should be functional.
The number one priority is its ability to handle online credit card processing, and if you’re reading this your probably well aware of service such as Shopify that can manage payments. Having payments managed by a well recognized payment system will increase the trust of potential customers and lead to more sales than a cheaper option. It’s safer to play it safe and go with the generic, trusted setup, however, there’s still plenty of room to bring your own branding into play, including personalized thank-you pages and shopping cart reminders.
Continuing beyond the shopping cart, the site’s structure and design should consistently be built around your brand identity. Just as a brick and mortar store has a personality, your website should have a personality. Consider the palette that you’re using and what it communicates. Colors can help communicate and connect your brand to your target audience.
Web design community Design Shack encourages incorporating colors, fonts, and all other design aspects to reflect that personality and brand of your store. Subconsciously, these will create impressions on your customer and may encourage or discourage her from continuing to frequent your business.
#2. Connecting to Your Target Audience
Understanding your target audience is the chief goal when you are preparing your marketing strategies and branding guidelines. Once you understand your primary customer, you will be better able to serve him or her. However, understanding is just the first step. You have to be able to connect.
Offering surveys with incentives for participation or offering prizes on your social media pages can be a very effective way to make those connections. The tone that you use in crafting the associated ads and response requests deserves more than a moments thought as this content serves to further connect people to your brand.
Another important factor to consider when thinking about how to connect with your audience is to ensuring smooth and functioning avenues for customers to send feedback, requests, and concerns. Email forms as well as forums can both serve well in this regard.
Transparency and reliable communication are important traits to Millennials and the younger generations. Some businesses like HP, Best Buy, and others have started incorporating chat sessions where customers can log on and speak to a representative about anything. Small businesses may not have the resources to do this, but you don’t have to have representatives available 24/7. Use Google Analytics or similar software to determine the best times of day for representatives to be online in order to reach the greatest amount of potential customers and maximize ROI.
Taking this interaction a step further you could also schedule a time slot on a particular day when customers can log on to Google Hangouts (AKA Google Chat) or Facebook and converse with you about their concerns and interests. These chats can also be a great way to gain further insights into your customers behaviors and desires.
#3. Matching Language to Audience
Each word you choose for your advertorial content contributes to the overall brand you are creating. Fruit drink cafe Tropical Smoothie for instance, tends to use Caribbean infused lingo and a casual voice because it’s part of their brand. J.C. Penney, on the other hand, has a more sophisticated tone that’s targeted toward women 30+, focusing on savings and opportunities to benefit their families. Both appeal to different target audiences, and their language reflects the personality of the brand and connects to their groups.
It goes without saying that the language you choose when developing a brand should revolve around your target audience. Therefore, you’ll need to truly understand what makes them tick and how to communicate with them in a way they will actively respond to. It may take some time to figure this out, but your tone and presentation will be most effective once you do. Some things to consider when determining the appropriate content for your target audience…
- a casual or formal tone
- lots of stories and narratives or fact based analysis
- lengthier narratives or second based clips
- audio or visual preferences
- hyperbole or understatement
Once you determine these basic content guidelines, you will have a more effective guide for drafting advertisements and web content as well as ensuring a higher return on investment.
#4. Be Consistent in Your Message
One of the challenges with online branding is that you have to spread the message over so many different places: website, social media, advertisements, promotions, customer service. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
No matter what style and approach you take, the most important trait of your branding and content should be consistency. However, consistency is about more than just saying the same thing on all of your platforms. Marketing agency Vertical Response emphasizes the importance of customizing your response on each platform rather than just copying and pasting. More than anything else, customers want to know that you are delivering what you promise consistently. W
hether your branding is lighthearted and goofy, or serious and high class, it should always reinforce this aspect of your business. In doing so you will cultivate increased trust and a stronger relationship with your customers.
Images: ”shopping cart social media concept/ Shutterstock.com“
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