You launched your eCommerce site, but you’re worried why nobody is buying your stuff? You might have a branding problem.
What is a brand, anyway?
Some people mistakenly think that a brand is a logo, or a catch phrase, but the truth is that a brand is neither of these things. The official “designer” answer is that a brand is how people feel about your company.
Great, I can hear you saying, how do I even influence that at all?
Let’s start by thinking of some brands you love, maybe it’s your car, maybe it’s clothing, or sneakers, or your favourite gaming console. Why do you like that brand in particular? Is it because of how it looks, is it because of how it performs, is it because of their overall image and association with qualities that you admire? Chances are that it’s one of those things, and often it’s a combination of them.
What are the parts of a brand?
A company’s brand consists of various touch-points where customers interact with them. Consider this example:
Company 1 has a store, a customer makes a purchase and they’re at first not sure if it was successful or not because they didn’t hear anything from the company after the transaction was completed. Months go by and they finally receive an unmarked brown envelope in the mail, it appears to have been postmarked from overseas. They open it and find the widget that they’d bought from Company 1 had finally arrived. It was okay.
Company 2 has a store too, they have a store with a bunch of interesting things that look well made. The customer confidently makes a purchase because the site looks very authentic and trustworthy, there’s a customer service number and reviews from other shoppers who said great things about the company and products. After they make their purchase, they receive an email that lets them know it was received, followed by another email with a tracking number that says that their purchase will arrive in a few days. The purchase arrives just as promised, the package is a branded mailer with the product carefully wrapped and sent with a thank you note, along with a discount code for a future purchase. The customer is thrilled with their purchase and they are always happy to tell people who admire it about where they got it from and how great the experience was.
Company 2 know what’s up, and if they do things right and keep delighting their customers, they’ll stay in business a long time. However, Company 1 did almost nothing to intentionally set themselves apart from other merchants, and didn’t provide a very positive experience at all.
Creating positive touch-points
Every interaction your company has with a customer is a touch-point. Making the most of your touch-points is what provides a positive brand experience for your customers.
Looking at our example, let’s identify which touch-points Company 2 made great use of:
- Their website serves them in looking genuine and builds trust for their brand in the minds of their customers
- Social proof was provided by customer product reviews
- The customer felt supported in the buying and after-sales process
- The company’s brand assets were present in the print collateral that accompanied the purchase, such as the mailer and thank you note
So, how do you make your brand better?
That’s a great question, and the answer is “it depends”. Typically brands that are starting out need a lot of help in this area, and established brands want to change things up a little to keep themselves fresh, but without upsetting people (looking at you Nokia, Gap, Pepsi, Kraft, Yahoo, and so many others). There is no easy answer here but taking a look at your own company’s customer touch-points can often reveal low-hanging fruit for improving your brand and elevating your customer experience.