A well-executed ecommerce branding strategy drives profit margins, reduces customer acquisition costs, and boosts customer loyalty. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to take your ecommerce brand to the next level.
What is ecommerce branding?
Ecommerce branding is the process of creating an identity for a company in the mind of a consumer. A company's logo, visual design, mission, and tone of voice are all elements of ecommerce branding.
Although a strong visual identity is a foundation for ecommerce branding, it’s not the only thing that matters. It’s equally important to make sure a brand’s actions and communications consistently align with the overall brand identity.
The importance of branding in ecommerce
As ecommerce competition heats up, branding has never been more important. A well-executed ecommerce branding strategy drives profit margins, reduces customer acquisition costs, and boosts customer loyalty.
Let’s review four key benefits of branding in ecommerce.
💸 Consistent branding increases revenue
The more consistent you are with how you present your brand, the more memorable it will be. Your brand identity, brand guidelines, core values, and other brand elements help ensure that your brand is easily recognizable across all touchpoints and marketing channels.
Building brand awareness is hard. It takes about 5–9 exposures to drive brand awareness at an optimal level. And if those exposures are inconsistent, it becomes even harder.
The cost to acquire new customers is rising fast. Direct-to-consumer brands are entering the market at breakneck speed, which is driving up competition. Marketing dollars on platforms like Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram aren’t going as far as they once did.
According to Shopify data, the average customer acquisition cost for a small ecommerce business with less than four employees is around $58.64. Of course, what’s considered a “good” customer acquisition cost will vary depending on the industry, company size, and business model.
Ecommerce branding can help battle rising customer acquisition costs. It increases awareness and recognition, which means you have to spend less to acquire new customers in the long run.
Brands with strong visual identities also have higher conversion rates. This also helps bring down CAC, because you have to spend less on ads to achieve the same results.
♻️ Ecommerce branding makes shared values visible
Lastly, a good ecommerce branding strategy will help you tap into the values you share with your customers. It will help you identify what makes you great, and more importantly, what makes you great in the eyes of your customers.
Sustainability, giving back, ethical sourcing, quality--these things matter to modern consumers. They want to invest in brands that are making an impact, and in brands that stand for something.
And if you think this one is a ‘nice to have,’ think again. According to a recent study commissioned by Google, 82% of shoppers prefer a consumer brand’s values to align with their own.
Customers will vote with their wallet if they don't feel a match. In fact, 75% of shoppers reported parting ways with a brand over a conflict in values.
Ecommerce branding case study: Native Deodorant
Get a whiff of this. In just two years, natural deodorant brand Native went from nothing to being acquired by Proctor & Gamble for $100 million in cash.
With a strong brand proposition and relentless customer focus, Native is a prime example of how ecommerce branding can help smaller brands go head-to-head (or pit-to-pit) with retail giants.
Native cosmetics' brand strategy be felt in the company's visuals, packaging, and written communications. It has all of the elements of a $100 million ecommerce brand:
Native’s story started when founder Moiz was randomly checking out the ingredient label on his antiperspirant. What began as a curiosity about aluminum turned into a mission to make a clean, toxin-free deodorant.
From the beginning, Native has been committed to sweating the small stuff: from regularly reformulating products based on customer feedback, to the simple ingredients that define every product in the lineup today.
Native deodorant is aluminum-free, paraben-free, vegan, cruelty-free, and now 100% plastic-free.
Brand tone and voice
When Native got started, its mission statement was: “Deodorant that isn’t a chemistry experiment.” It’s a simple, bold statement that makes you think about what you’re putting on your body.
The brand also regularly emailed customers asking for feedback—and put that feedback to good use. They simply asked customers what they don’t like about Native so that they could go make the product better.
It’s clear that Native has created a clear and transparent tone of voice. From its products to its marketing communications, the brand voice is honest, simple, and effective.
A deodorant brand has to be doing something unique to gain over 220,000 Instagram followers. Native has managed to make deodorant Instagram-worthy through stunning product mockups and colorful product photography.
Ecommerce branding best practices
🦄 Be authentic
Really successful brands usually have one thing in common: they’re authentic. Authenticity is something that can’t be faked, and can often be felt in ecommerce branding.
The key is to find what makes you unique and make it your greatest strength. Sometimes it’s the things you perceive as your weaknesses that are actually your differentiating qualities.
For example, as the founder of Outlier Creative, I spent a lot of time being intimidated by larger marketing agencies. I was afraid people wouldn’t take us as seriously as our competitors with big offices and long client lists.
But the reason I started this company in the first place was to try to do something different. I wanted to start a marketing agency that didn’t depend on elaborate pitch theatre or fancy dinners to woo clients.
The fact that we’re small means we can give more attention to our clients, experiment more often, and produce faster. We can focus more on results instead of getting lost in bureaucracy or politics.
📜 Create brand guidelines—and live by them
Ecommerce branding is all about consistency. It’s not enough to have a pretty logo or write a catchy tagline. You need to make sure your brand is aligned in everything you do.
Brand guidelines are a key tool to help manage this, and they’re a staple in any ecommerce branding project. They outline your values, mission statement, visual identity, and core messaging.
✨ Prioritize aesthetics
Lastly, successful ecommerce brands know that looks matter. The world is more visual than ever before, and strong branding means that all of your ecommerce visuals will work together to tell a bigger story.
The truth is that people do judge a book by its cover. Even if you have a great story to tell, there are people who will never get to the first page if they don’t like the look of it.