Branding in E-Commerce: What to Consider

In one of my older posts I have already touched upon branding. This post will be based on the discussions in the e-commerce forum I recently attended and will cover examples of building up a brand in e-commerce.

Why is brand-building so important, especially in e-commerce?

  • For the company, a brand helps to differentiate its products from competitors and achieve a higher profit margin;
  • Branding is also orientation help for marketing and other departments, as it defines how the company wants to communicate itself internally and externally;
  • For the customer, branding makes choosing among a number of products easier and serves as a warranty of the quality associated with the brand.

As I had discussed before, a brand includes both “tangible” qualities such as logo, colors, design, etc. and “intangibles”, such as emotions and motives associated with the brand. Those motives play an extremely important role, as the majority of buying decisions are made on a subconscious level.

Two companies were invited to speak about how they built up their brand:  Haix (functional footwear) and Chrono24 (an online marketplace for watches).

In case of Haix, the following steps were taken to build up their brand:

  • Extensive market research to define the present (professionals) and the target (leisure) segments for their shoes;
  • Creating the main theme around the brand (thrill & adventure) and centering all communication around it;
  • Reaching out to consumers directly using branded shops;
  • Engaging in event marketing and social media marketing to establish a closer contact to the target customer.

Chrono24 uses a slightly different strategy:

  • Defining their brand archetype as “magician”- innovative and fulfilling wishes;
  • Developing the brand inside the company by educating employees about the brand;
  • Improving customer experience in line with the chosen brand-building strategy.
Archetypes-chart-poissy
Brand archetypes (Source: http://brandstradigi.com/)

 

However, as both speakers concluded, some of the most important things to consider in brand-building are: orientation towards the target segment, open dialog with the customer and consistency in the branding strategy.

 

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Love Thy Brand

Creating, developing, and maintaining one’s brand is important not only in the sector of luxury goods but also for virtually any company, whether in B2C or B2B area.

Creating, developing, and maintaining one’s brand is important not only in the sector of luxury goods but also for virtually any company, whether in B2C or B2B area.

According to Paul Feldwick (2002), a brand is “a recognizable and trustworthy badge of origin, but also a promise of performance”. On the one hand, a brand helps a product (or a service) stand apart from the competitors, allows the producer (or provider) to charge a price premium, and results in repeat purchases and cross-selling/up-selling. But on the other hand, it also serves as a guarantee of a certain level of quality and contributes to a constructive relationship between a company and its customers.

Therefore, owning a strong brand equals to owning brand equity. In marketing, brand equity has the following elements: perceived quality of a branded product and customer loyalty, as well as share of mind (recognition of a brand) and share of heart (trust and positive view of the brand).

Two well known brand-building models are the brand equity model by Aaker (1996) or brand identity prism by Kapferer (2004).

What these models have in common, is the notion that brand identity is a complex entity, incorporating not only the product or service in question or the brand as a symbol but also less tangible aspects, such as brand personalization and brand culture/values.

It is important to remember that brand building should occur not only externally (through advertising or brand endorsement by a famous person), but also internally (literally through living the values one’s brand dictates).

In other words, a customer’s contact with the brand occurs the moment an employee answers his/her phone call or the moment he/she steps through the doorway of an outlet, or the moment a product or service is being consumed. Thus, employee training and constant quality management are just as important as investing in fancy ads or creating a nice logo.

Companies with valuable brands are also known for having strict quality control procedures (mystery shopping at McDonald’s), careful managing of end-customer sales channels (Apple Stores), timely responding to the market trends (Google’s innovations) and implementing CSR (Starbucks’ Fair Trade products).

Loving your brand means sustaining a positive and balanced relationship between the brand, the product, the company and the external and internal stakeholders (including your employees, your customers, your investors and so on).

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