Branding – the missing link in every failed Shopify store.
So let's talk about branding.
I've built lots of different types of online stores. I've sold products on lots of different platforms too. The truth is that many of those were failed stores.
They didn't sell one thing.
I don't know if you've already started dabbling in e-commerce but if you have then there is a good chance you've experienced some amount of failure during that time as well.
E-Commerce is a tricky game. It moves fast, the rules can change in an instant.
But from my experience there is one thing that really stands out as a key culprit in failed stores.
That one thing would be branding.
A lot of times you'll hear people are making a killing using Shopify or selling on Amazon. It seems like people are just sticking stuff online and it's going like wildfire.
But that's just not the reality. Anyone who is doing well online almost always has some sense of an established brand.
Great branding doesn't have to be flashy, it has to be impressive – it has to impress upon someone your company values that is.
Let's dive deeper into some branding strategy,
How to think about brand strategy
Branding means a lot of things and that's probably why it has such an impact on the success of an e-commerce business. It means market research, muse design, consumer psychology and much more.
It means that you are providing great value not in just your products and services, but also the experience of shopping with you.
That might be the online user experience or it might be the box opening. It might be customer service or it might be social media engagement. It might be ad design or it might be landing page copy.
Branding transcends the entire company and customer experience even when they aren't shopping with you. They might see your social media or your banner ad from a remarketing campaign. They might be on your 40 day email autoresponder.
The bottom line is branding is incredibly important when it comes to having success with e-commerce or any business for that matter.
Great branding comes from great intent
It's 2017, all the online marketing tactics are out there. If you aren't successful with Shopify it means you aren't putting in the work or you are, and there's no real thought behind it, no passion, no interest, no intent.
Because great brands often come from having great intents – something that goes far beyond making easy money.
A great intent can override anything like a strange name or logo or webpage design. Great intent means you are actually trying to serve and provide value. People will notice and often overlook shortcomings when they know your intent is pure.
If the intent is there, the brand will follow.
As you attempt to do something, to realize your intent, you will gain interest from others. People will get behind your cause when there is good intent.
You could be selling a high-tech water bottle that filters automatically or your could be providing yoga retreats. As long as your intent is to give value and you are passionate about your intent the brand begins to manifest from that.
With clear intentions comes clear goals and objectives. Your business actions will arise out of your intentions. Your marketing messages will also become much clearer.
It should be very clear who your brand intends to serve – what group of people need your help?
Don't try to help everyone do everything, help a specific group of people do one thing first.
When you try to market to a wide audience it becomes a lot harder to write solid copy because the benefits will appear different to different groups of people.
A lot of time people confuse a copywriting problem with a branding problem. This can be challenging.
How to improve branding in the short-term
If you find that you have really been lacking in spending resources in this area which includes brainstorming and strategy then it should be the first place to look to improve your E-commerce results.
I always design my target demographic “muse” before I do any marketing related activities. Often times even before I validate my business.
More and more businesses will be designed around human archetypes in the future. In the future you will see many curated e-commerce stores opened by influencers who want to share with their audience their favorite products they use to design their life.
It will no longer be about one store with hundreds of products and you leave with 5-6 items. It will be about many smaller curated boutiques with 8 products and you will leave with all 8 because they were designed specifically for you.
The point is that we need to think about who we are serving early on in strategic planning because that gives us starting points for what problems to solve or what value to provide.
By thinking about the who first we can put ourselves in that person's shoes to better envision what it is they need to purchase or what problem they need to solve.
A lot of time what happens is that you have an idea, a product or service but there isn't a group who wants it, or there is but its too small to scale.
When I create brands I think about who I want to market to, I ask how I can help them, solve a problem for them or create something they love, then I can start to visualize the product, and then the brand.
Logo, website, photo styling, fonts, colors, etc.
The best thing to do in my opinion is to refine your target demos and create a muse for more effective branding.
How can I create a brand muse?
Whenever I'm doing muse design, which is essentially a part of brand strategy, I ask a series of questions:
- What is their name?
- How old are they?
- What do they look like? M/F?
- Where do they live? Languages?
- What are they needs, problems challenges?
- What do they want to know?
- What do they care about?
- How do they access the internet?
- What social platforms do they like?
- What are their spending habits?
Typically, that gives you a great sense of your muse. You should be able to always reference your muse file and it should even become a part of your company language if you work with others.
Once your muse is in place creating content becomes a lot easier because you know what they want to read about or watch.
This is where you should start if you want to see bigger numbers in your Shopify dashboard this year.
Branding is going to be the key going forward. You simply can't gain a strong social following without great branding because people won't be able to identify with you.
People follow on social media with those that they identify with – who in turn fill that person's feed with reassurances about their reality.
You need to tap into that reality and resonate with the desire maps these people are putting out.
Go back and revisit your intentions then work on your branding. Things will begin to feel a lot more effortless if you do the work up front, resulting in a confident marketing message and a path to connecting with your target audience.