We know you’re running a business. You need to optimize conversion rates and grow your revenue. This requires an eCommerce site that provides a seamless shopping experience. However, to stay competitive in the long term, this also requires you to build your brand. What does this mean? Brand building is about more than increasing brand recognition. Successful brands are those that elicit an emotional connection (e.g., by creating a desired culture/lifestyle, promoting the brand story and purpose), making consumers care so much so that it entices them to purchase the eCommerce brand’s products.
As Forrester reports, seven in 10 Millennials and more than half of all US adults say they consider a company’s values when making a purchase. The emotional connection your brand creates with your customer is what makes your products appear desirable and exciting. And, your shopping experience, brand consistency and customer service are what keep them coming back.
At eHouse, we work with eCommerce brands at all stages, from newly formed to well-established. No matter the stage, it’s important to periodically ensure a brand is updated and still relevant to target audiences. Whether your brand is striving to stay ahead of the competition or is new to a saturated market, following are some important steps for all brands to consider for successful brand building.
1. Develop your brand
Building a brand first involves clearly defining it. While your brand may change over time, you need a foundation in the here and now from which to build your brand. Defining your brand involves understanding:
- Your audience(s)
- Your company’s mission/why you exist
- Your value proposition, benefits and key differentiators, in contrast to your competitors’
- Your brand personality and how this translates to visual and written style and voice/tone, as well as brand guidelines including color palette, typography, etc.
- Your logo and tagline and how these relate to your brand
We recommend that our clients work with a branding agency to develop a unique brand identity and create design guidelines to ensure consistency of experience across all touchpoints. Most of our clients come to us with these elements already in place, while some require us to take a more collaborative approach with their in-house team or branding agency. For young eCommerce brands that haven’t had time and/or budget to work with a branding agency, we can provide some initial brand guidance and high-level creative direction as a foundation to design and build an effective eCommerce site.
These elements are essential pieces to be able to translate the brand position and guidelines into a user interface that feels like a seamless extension of the brand that also creates an enjoyable shopping experience for customers. To do this successfully requires expertise in brand-precise web design as well as eCommerce best practices -- just our cup of tea!
2. Create the right photography and content
Branding is all about connecting your product with a lifestyle or culture that your audience aspires to have or be a part of. Lifestyle photography that depicts the lifestyle or culture that appeals to them, while showing off your product, taps into this unconscious reason why we want to buy things. eCommerce UX research organization Baymard Institute reports that consumers respond better to images of products in a “use context” – which gives a sense of a brand’s personality and story – than products displayed on a white background. Lifestyle content not only helps differentiate your brand, but it also creates brand loyalty and hopefully, higher customer lifetime value (LTV).
In addition to lifestyle photography, it’s also important to note the role product photography (on that white background!) and video plays in supporting great customer experiences on an eCommerce site. People can’t touch or hold products online, so visuals have to bridge that gap -- but they can do it in a way that still enhances the brand story. For example, if your clothing brand appeals to adventurous world travellers, your product photography or videos should be sure to showcase key features like wrinkle-free fabrics or convenient pockets.
We think a lot about how photography and video supports the brand experience, and work with clients to make recommendations about what lifestyle and product photography is needed and what to prioritize.
3. Align the eCommerce experience with your brand
This step in brand building is where eHouse adds its special sauce. We help clients strategically create immersive brand experiences with eCommerce sites that not only align with a brand visually, but in terms of the brand story and quality of user experience. For example, if you’re a luxury brand with high-touch customer service in stores and in call centers, or an eco-friendly brand that supports a lot of community events, the eCommerce experience should feel consistent and support your unique brand. While the shopping experience should be somewhat familiar and based on universal best practices (e.g., consumers can find the shopping cart in the upper right corner, etc.), consumers should be able to instantly recognize your site as your brand -- and no one else’s.
4. Design to build trust
Trust is a big reason why consumers purchase from brands they know. However, less than half of US consumers say they trust businesses. This presents a massive opportunity for brands to design eCommerce sites with building trust in mind. Ways to build trust online include:
- Communicating and displaying customer-friendly shopping policies at the right time/place, so customers feel confident making purchases
- Providing clear and accurate product information, enhanced product-viewing capabilities (e.g., zoom), customer reviews, etc.
- Clearly explaining how purchases support the company mission or cause
- Making it easy to reach customer service
- Making the checkout and payment process clear and easy; for example, by leveraging Shopify Plus’ intuitive checkout and payment process (e.g., no surprise taxes or shipping costs at checkout)
A lack of trust can have a financial impact, such as higher cart abandonment or lower account registration rates. We mainly see this issue with established brands that have neglected their eCommerce sites, which are difficult to use, and look outdated and off-brand. Cluttered pages, confusing organization, ineffective search, old photography and bad mobile experiences kill trust and motivate consumers to shop elsewhere.
5. Ensure brand consistency
What happens when you think you know someone, only to discover they act like a different person around others? You probably feel confused and maybe a little betrayed. Same with brands. To build trust and keep customers coming back requires a consistent experience no matter the brand touchpoint (e.g., eCommerce site, brick-and-mortar store, emails, packaging, etc.). Brand consistency can directly impact the bottom line. One survey found that when brands with consistency issues fixed them, they saw an average increase in revenue of 23%.
Case study: Luxury brand realignment
An excellent example of eCommerce brand alignment is a project we did with luxury luggage company Zero Halliburton. For Zero Halliburton’s 80th anniversary, the client team rolled out a brand refresh for the US market, including stronger brand heritage messaging, bold typography and a clean, sophisticated aesthetic for all channels. Our job was to take these brand guidelines (see example below), and deliver a brand-precise eCommerce site that not only incorporated eCommence best practices, but the new brand guidelines and new video and photography assets.
Zero Halliburton Brand Guidelines & Materials
Zero Halliburton Website Redesign
The new site increased conversions by a whopping 86%. In addition, after the site relaunch, we continued working on rolling-out email communications to align with the new brand look and voice -- and saw revenue attributable to emails rise by 700%!
Stay competitive by building your eCommerce brand
The future looks bright for eCommerce, with consumer spending projected to surpass $712 billion by 2022, according to Forrester Research. However, continued growth also means growing competition, as more companies fight to get a piece of the eCommerce pie. Using your eCommerce site to develop and build your brand will only become more critical over time in convincing consumers to choose your brand over your competitors’.