Your digital brand is more than just a catchy name, a smart slogan or a slick logo.
It’s how potential customers perceive the quality of your products.
Your brand is your reputation among consumers, your positioning against the competition, and the value of your company name.
So how can you establish a trusted and reputable brand in a competitive market?
With the help of a watertight and highly-polished digital branding strategy.
A digital brand strategy helps your business to establish values and behaviours that will appeal to valuable consumers and consistently increase your revenue over time.
Let’s run through the fundamentals of digital branding strategies, and outline the steps you can take to build your own credible brand image.
What is a digital branding strategy?
Creating a credible and impactful brand sounds great in theory.
But what does a digital branding strategy actually involve?
Well, there isn’t a single answer. A successful branding strategy needs to filter into all of your brand communications and touchpoints.
Every time you communicate with your customers, from customer service messages to order confirmation emails, you’re contributing towards your brand image and reputation.
A solid branding strategy will help you to deliver consistency across all of your online channels and build a brand that is competitive and profitable in the market.
Why is it so important?
Here’s a good way to highlight the importance of a digital branding strategy.
Try to remember an online brand you’ve seen that didn’t have a strong and clear brand presence.
You’re probably scratching your head right now.
It’s tough, right?
A business without a defined brand identity is instantly forgettable, which is a disaster when you’re trying to attract new customers and retain long-term revenue.
When customers commit to purchasing from an e-commerce store, they need to trust in the quality of the service and maintain positive perceptions of the business.
Building strong customer relationships all starts with your digital branding.
The key ingredients of successful branding
Sadly, business owners can’t pull an established brand image out of thin air.
(Although that would make life much easier.)
Multiple elements of your e-commerce business need to be refined and aligned to create a consistent brand presence that customers believe in.
Let’s run through the key ingredients that combine to deliver an effective branding strategy.
1. Understanding your target audience
Understanding your target audience is crucial to building an effective brand.
Who are you designing your products and services for?
What would convince these specific prospects to purchase?
How can your brand enhance their daily lives or shopping habits?
Answering these fundamental questions is a good way to steer your brand in the right direction from the start.
You may also need to split your audience into different segments (e.g. demographic, geographic) to tailor communications to different individuals.
The important thing is to build your brand around the specific needs of your ideal customers and avoid generic brand communications that don’t deliver results.
2. Establishing your brand purpose
Defining a compelling brand purpose is a good way to lay down strong foundations for your business and attract certain prospects.
Not every business needs a purpose that’s aiming to transform the world, but setting out some clear values and goals helps customers to buy into your brand.
For example, a business with a passion for supporting local charities or maintaining eco-friendly behaviours will instantly resonate with certain audiences.
Just remember – your brand purpose needs to be genuine! If your business actions don’t reflect your core values, customers will take notice.
3. Analysing the competition
If you’re going to establish a unique and compelling brand identity, you need to understand where you can make an impact in the market.
Conducting a thorough analysis of the competition is key.
Try to understand how your competitors are positioning themselves, and identify opportunities for your business to differentiate itself.
Which audiences are your competitors targeting? How are they communicating with prospects? What kind of brand values and product messages are they broadcasting?
4. Highlighting qualities and benefits
The term ‘brand identity’ can feel a little abstract sometimes, but the best brand offerings are rooted in solid facts and persuasive benefits.
Think about the qualities and features of your business that might help you to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Your products may offer a special benefit to users, or you may use unique processes or methods to deliver solutions to customers.
Identify these core qualities and incorporate them into your branding to stand out in the market and capture consumer attention.
5. Finding (and maintaining) your brand voice
Maintaining a consistent (and engaging) brand voice across all of your digital touchpoints is crucial to building your brand profile.
Imagine you knew someone who changed their accent, tone and vocabulary every time you spoke. It would be a little jarring, right?
(And also pretty weird.)
The same applies to your brand communications and digital experiences.
Consumers like consistency when you’re speaking to them. Consistency conveys trust and reliability, which are key factors when a prospect is considering a new purchase.
Maintain a consistent brand voice across all channels. That means the same tone, the same personality, the same terminology – everything that contributes to your voice.
6. Building brand recognition
Consumers will trust brands that they recognise – and if they trust a brand, they’re more likely to buy from them.
It’s as simple as that.
Successfully increasing your brand recognition requires a combination of factors, including all of the ingredients listed above.
You’ll need to tailor your communications around your target audience, maintain a clear brand voice, convey your core brand values, and showcase unique product benefits.
If you can consistently tick all of these boxes, consumers will quickly begin to recognise your brand and understand your offering.
What’s the difference between digital branding and digital marketing?
The terms ‘digital branding’ and ‘digital marketing’ may often be used in similar contexts, which can be a little confusing.
The two ideas are connected, but they are very different concepts.
Digital branding is the process of creating your brand identity. For example, ironing out your brand values or identifying your most persuasive product benefits.
You need to create a strong digital brand before you can launch effective marketing.
Digital marketing is the process of doing something with your brand. For example, using your brand identity to fuel content marketing or enhance your email communications.
Your marketing efforts won’t be particularly effective if your brand isn’t recognisable or convincing.
Conversely, you need to utilise a digital marketing strategy to broadcast your brand identity, capture new potential customers and create effective advertising campaigns!
Planning a successful digital brand strategy
A strong and effective digital brand isn’t something that just magically appears.
Designing and launching a successful branding strategy is an ongoing process.
By following a set of proven methods and tactics, you can effectively create a brand strategy that will enhance your business reputation and fuel your marketing campaigns.
Plus, once you understand the steps required to build a branding strategy, you can refine and adjust your branding when your business grows.
As your e-commerce business scales, you may want to shift your branding strategy to communicate different messages or values.
The more thoroughly you plan out your branding strategy, the clearer and more compelling your proposition will be in the market.
Let’s take a look at the 5 key steps that can help you to develop an exceptionally effective branding strategy.
5 steps to develop a sterling branding strategy
Laying the foundations of your strategy is vitally important.
By following a set process to clearly define and understand your brand, you can set your business up with the best chance of success against the competition.
However, that isn’t to say that your strategy can’t be refined over time.
As your business expands, you may want to change the direction of your strategy.
Perhaps you’ll need to tweak your target audience, or update your brand messaging to reflect new features.
That’s the beauty of a well-defined branding strategy. You know exactly how your brand has been developed, so you can always adjust your approach accordingly.
Step 1. Clarify your target audience
Identifying your target audience is a huge part of the strategic branding process.
In fact, painting a picture of your ideal buyers should be one of the first steps you take when building your brand.
If you’re hoping to convert masses of new customers, you first need to understand who these prospects are and how you’re going to communicate with them.
Start with the fundamentals.
Who are your target buyers in terms of demographics? What age brackets do they fall into? Where are they located? What are they interested in?
If you’re struggling to paint a clear picture of your audience, you can always dig into existing customer data to figure out who your most valuable shoppers are.
(They may fall into multiple segments, which is fine. Just try to focus your attention on the most valuable audiences as a priority.)
Once you’ve clarified your target audiences, it’s a good idea to create buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a bit like a fictional character, created to represent your different customers. These profiles will help you to shape your communications more clearly, and understand how your brand can connect with these customers.
Think about the lifestyles of your buyer personas, their values and beliefs, their motivations, and their obstacles. You’ll quickly identify opportunities for your brand to make an impact.
Step 2. Perform a thorough competitor analysis
If you’re going to outperform your competitors, you first need to understand them.
By conducting a detailed competitor analysis, you can spot opportunities in the market for your products to shine.
Start by making a list of known competitors. They’ll probably fall into three distinct categories:
Direct competitors: Brands who are selling the same products as you, and likely targeting a very similar audience.
Indirect competitors: Brands who are selling similar products that could substitute or replace your products.
Tertiary competitors: Brands that don’t sell similar products, but could potentially become a direct or indirect competitor in the future.
If you can’t think of too many competitors, try scoping out search engine results pages and listings on websites like Amazon. Dig around the internet for similar products, and you’ll quickly discover the competition.
Once you’ve gathered a list of competitors, start analysing:
- The size of their business and product offering
- Their approach to customer service
- Their presence in search engines
- Their tone and brand voice
- Their visual identity and branding
- Their messaging on social media platforms and digital platforms
- The types of content creation they’re producing
- The CTAs being used in their marketing activity
Regularly scoping out competitor activity is crucial, to ensure that you don’t miss any potential threats or opportunities to your business.
Step 3. Craft visual design assets for your brand
Your visual brand assets are some of the most important tools in your e-commerce arsenal.
Visuals can be instantly recognised by your target audience online, which can improve your brand recognition and the performance of your digital marketing.
The more creative and compelling your visual assets, the stronger your brand will become.
Start by ironing out the basics of your visual identity, such as:
- A consistent colour palette that will be utilised across all touchpoints
- A recognisable and unique logo that fits your brand identity
- A font that reflects your brand personality
- A distinctive photography style for your website, product shots, etc
It’s always worth enlisting the help of a professional branding agency when you’re producing visual assets. While it’s true that strong assets can enhance your brand image, weak or forgettable assets can be detrimental to your business.
Step 4. Understand your sales funnel
Creating a memorable brand identity is great, but all of your branding efforts are ultimately aiming to achieve one thing – sales.
Understanding your sales funnel is key to focusing your branding efforts and maximising the revenue that you’re generating.
There are a few different variations of sales funnels, but below is a basic example of how customers may interact with your brand and eventually commit to a purchase.
Customers don’t behave like robots, so they won’t always move through the funnel in a methodical and predictable way.
However, a clear funnel can help you to design an effective digital strategy that will consistently drive conversions.
For example, helping you to increase brand awareness, reiterate your product benefits to warm prospects, and drive valuable sales over time.
Different media channels and formats will help you to deliver results at different stages of the funnel, so a balanced marketing strategy is essential.
Tracking your sales funnel (i.e. ensuring that customers are progressing through) is also very important. A marketing or research agency can help you to set up regular brand tracking.
Step 5. Set out clear marketing goals and KPIs
A digital brand can feel a little intangible sometimes.
You may feel super confident in your digital brand strategy (e.g. your target audience, visual assets, marketing funnel) but still unsure about the effectiveness of your branding.
That’s where clear and actionable marketing goals and KPIs are key.
Establishing tangible targets for your marketing activity (e.g. display ads, social media ads) will help you to understand how your brand is performing.
Everything needs to be measurable and accurate.
You’ll ideally need to track several different metrics to build a clear picture of your brand performance, such as:
- Brand metrics across the funnel – Brand Awareness, Consideration, etc
- Website traffic and content views
- Clicks and conversions from paid advertising
- ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)
- Customer sentiment and perceptions (e.g. through qualitative research)
Understanding how these metrics interact and influence your bottom line is also crucial.
For example, how is your brand awareness impacting your website traffic? Are you seeing sales increase when consideration improves? Which audiences are converting regularly?
Setting clear goals for your business enables you to understand the true impact of your brand identity. Plus, you can establish benchmarks for future activity and inform any adjustments to your branding.
Best-in-class examples of digital brand strategy
Let’s take a look at some top-tier digital strategies that have achieved impressive results for e-commerce businesses.
Casper has a simple approach to e-commerce that has delivered superb results – award-winning mattress products powered by an insanely strong brand identity.
Casper’s visual identity is one of the most effective aspects of its branding.
The brand font, colour palette and visual assets are incredibly consistent across all digital channels, establishing a clear brand identity that’s instantly recognisable.
Everything from Casper’s website landing page to its email marketing communications is carefully designed to maintain a strong visual identity.
Clever additions such as illustrated artwork have also helped to separate Casper from the rest of the competition and carve out a unique space in the market.
Casper also maintains a unique and charming brand voice, present across all digital touchpoints. Every piece of copy, from social media marketing to order confirmation emails, is brimming with the same brand personality.
This brand consistency helps to create a smooth user experience that also builds consumer trust.
This tone of voice is humorous, friendly, and light-hearted.
Most importantly, it’s consistent.
The effectiveness of Casper’s branding strategy is also crystal clear.
After constructing a clear brand identity, the business sold $1m worth of mattresses within a month of launching and arguably kicked off an e-commerce revolution in the mattress sector.
Although many factors undoubtedly contributed to Casper’s e-commerce success, its digital presence has played a huge role in setting it apart from the competition.
Grocery-delivery brand Weezy has also placed a big emphasis on brand building, which has helped the business to differentiate itself in an extremely competitive marketplace.
The visual identity of Weezy is immediately striking. Its brand communications use a set of key colours that are instantly recognisable and convey a sense of fun and warmth.
The uniqueness of this colour palette has created a highly memorable brand image for Weezy. Even if the copy was removed from these images, many consumers could probably still identify Weezy as the brand behind them.
The business has also clearly developed a strong understanding of its target audience and tailors its copywriting around these shoppers to create more relevant brand messaging.
The Weezy tone of voice is cheeky and humorous, with a premium twist that’s appealing to a very specific type of shopper.
A brand with a thorough understanding of its target audience can immediately deliver more relevant and impactful creative messaging.
The Weezy branding strategy has clearly paid off, as the business has achieved enormous success in a crowded marketplace and quickly differentiated itself from direct competitors.
How to get started
Kickstarting your digital brand strategy might feel a bit overwhelming at first.
Starting with the basics is a good way to set the wheels in motion. As you start to nail down more elements of your digital brand, the direction of your strategy will become clearer.
Consider the individual components of your e-commerce brand. For example, your target audience, your key qualities, and your brand values.
If you’re working through the process with a team, brainstorm each element of the strategy and refine your ideas until you land on something strong.
As you tackle each of these areas, you’ll also be able to identify where external support may be required – for instance, graphic designers or copywriters.
Once you feel like your brand identity is taking shape, you can start to think about how your branding will be incorporated across your e-commerce business.
It’s also hugely important to align your brand strategy with any marketing plans in the pipeline.
Set out key milestones for your brand development to ensure that your marketing plan will be ready to launch on time.
Handy resources for digital branding
Below are some useful digital branding resources to save down for future reference.
A lot of different ingredients are needed to create a successful digital brand.
However, thorough planning and proper preparation can make life much easier when you’re designing your brand strategy.
Think carefully about all of the individual elements required (e.g. your target audience, brand values, visual assets) and create a plan to tackle them.
Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll find yourself with an exciting new brand identity that will increase your sales, enhance your reputation and deliver long-term success. Best of luck!