What’s the difference between you and your competitors?
The chances are that, when asked that question, many brand owners would start to roll off USPs of their products and their brand.
High quality, eco-friendly, extra strong, the most ‘something’.
And they’re all familiar and valid USPs. They help to shape and identify your brand.
But, how do you present those USPs and, more importantly, your brand? What is the experience that your brand delivers, and what does it leave your customers feeling?
When you’re able to nail your branding experience, it will be so much easier for your brand’s name to stick in the minds of your customers. In addition, this concept further fosters user-generated content, word-of-mouth marketing, and more positive reviews - which, we all know, are worth a fortune when trying to establish trust.
Therefore, it’s essential that you nail down what your customer will experience and brand every avenue that your customer can experience your brand.
In this article, we’ll touch on:
- Why a branded customer experience is important
- What channels are often left unbranded
- Examples of consistent branding
Ensure that you ‘know’ your branding
An exciting logo and a website that uses similar colours.
That’s branding, right?
Well, yes, they are parts of your branding. But if you’re concentrating on only a logo and your website colours, you’re leaving a lot of opportunity at the table.
Your brand is the way your brand presents itself to the world. It’s what your customers think of your brand or product when they’re not interacting with it.
Clearly, there’s more to it than a logo and your colour palette.
And if you want to go beyond just a logo or a colour palette, read how to find your Social Media brand voice in 5 steps here.
What is ‘customer experience’?
When you walk into a Walmart, how do you know you’re in a Walmart and not a McDonalds?
Because of the branding.
When someone lands on your website, how do they know they’re on your website and not Amazon?
Because of the branding.
When people see the names of those brands they know (Like Walmart, McDonalds and Amazon), they know the experience they’re going to get.
For returning customers, your branding can remind them of the overall experience they had dealing with you last time - much the same way that we know what we’re going to ‘experience’ when we buy something from Amazon.
A customer experience is best defined as the overall experience that a customer has when interacting with your brand. When you’re selling on a marketplace like Etsy, for example, you have very little control over this customer experience; you’re selling under someone else’s name. You control product photos, copy, and a default store photo - that’s about it.
In your online store, where you control the entire process from start to finish, your branding takes on a more critical role. Of course, you control product photos and copy, but you also control store layout, return and refund policy, shipping options, and brand values.
Your website is the vessel that delivers your branding to your audience. Here’s how to get it right:
81% of people research their product before committing to a purchase.
If your website is home to content that can help them research a product they want to buy (read: a product you’re selling), then the way you present your product to that reader will have a massive impact on their purchasing decision.
A well-branded website can create a sense of trust for people who’ve never heard of your brand and are in that ‘research’ mode.
And your Shopify store is incredibly customisable, making it the ideal ecommerce platform to create a branded experience.
- Well-written and professionally written copy in your brand’s tone of voice
- An ecommerce store layout that showcases your colour palette
- User-generated content from social accounts on your product pages
Your website, which is the virtual home of your brand, should tell every visitor that they certainly are in the home of your brand and its products.
By showing how your product and brand is unique while shoppers are in that ‘research’ mode, you’ll create a brand that people want to buy into and be a part of.
The chances are that as you read that title, you thought ‘email marketing’.
Email marketing is an essential part of running a successful ecommerce business, but there’s more to ‘email’ than just ‘marketing’.
Sending beautiful emails to get people to spend money is one thing - sending emails that are just as beautiful once someone has brought something is a process that’s often forgotten about.
There are many websites that show off what good emails look like - so ensure that your newsletters look fantastic, but your transactional emails do, too.
Your customers are most receptive to your brand right after they’ve purchased something from you. Their emotions are high, either positively or negatively, the moment they’ve completed your payment and checkout process - this is one of the reasons why buyer’s remorse is a real thing.
So if you’ve spent all the time and energy creating a branded buying experience right up to the transactional process, and you’re sending order confirmations in a plain-text format - well, that’s going to say a lot about your brand’s attention to detail.
Branded transactional emails build more of a rapport with your audience - they push home the idea that your customer has become the owner of something special like they’re a part of something bigger. General, templated emails or unclear emails only erode those feelings.
Delivery & tracking
There are a plethora of memes floating on the interwebs about being impatient for an online order to come.
If you’re sending your customers order tracking information at regular intervals (tip: you should be sending your customers order tracking information at regular intervals), then brand that, too. If you’re using software to automatically send shipping updates, ensure they’re branded.
However, many couriers like U.P.S. and FedEx don’t offer ‘branded’ tracking updates to their customers - the same applies to SMS updates. If this is the case for you, ensure that the company name placed on these orders is the same as the name you’re selling under.
It will do nothing but erode trust if someone buys swimwear from your online store named ‘bikini-bonanza.com’, but then gets a text message saying ‘Your order from ‘South West Strategic Investments L.L.C.’ is on its way!
Consistency is key.
By paying close attention to the most delicate details of your brand, you take a colossal step in making your customer feel like they’ve made the right decision.
Unboxing & packaging
Think back. Think way back to when you were a kid.
Specifically a kid on Christmas day. You could hardly sleep because you knew that in the morning, there’d be something special for you under the tree.
The excitement, the anticipation. And then, the sheer exhilaration as you saw something under the tree with your name on it.
We still get that same feeling of excitement when buying something online (hence all the cat memes about being impatient).
What many ecommerce store owners don’t understand is that your brand’s packaging is the first physical touchpoint between your customer and your brand.
In the world of retail, you can walk into a store, touch and hold a product, then decide to buy it. But, unfortunately, you can’t do that online.
That’s why your packaging, which makes the first impression, is so critical at leaving your customer with a positive, lasting impression. Deliver your products in a generic padded bag from the post office, and sure, you’ll be saving money, but you’ll make it pretty clear that you don’t really care how your brand (or your product) is perceived.
Branded packaging, whether it’s a box, envelope or postage bag, form the foundation of an unboxing experience - a process that makes your customer think, ‘gee, I really got a lot more than I thought I would’.
That unboxing experience is entirely branded - from tissue paper with your logo printed on it, a branded box and even a handwritten thank you note.
Simply put, packaging supplies are potent yet all too often forgotten about medium for you to deliver another branded experience.
Even when you’re a brand selling a single product (think Crocs and Michellin), branding your product is essential. That’s because people don’t ‘buy’ brands. They buy a product from a brand, but it’s the brand that’s responsible for the product. In other words, it’s the product that keeps the customer returning to the brand.
So selling a product that doesn’t have your brand on it is a lost branding opportunity. That’s the reason that even the most basic products like clothing, office supplies and electronics come with a brand name adhered to them.
The product is a medium to throat the company’s name into the face of the consumer the moment the product is being used. If your product does the job it has to do, then your brand’s name will be there, right under the customer’s nose.
Branding your product might be as simple as a logo printed on the nape of your clothing. It might be a sticker on some electronics or a hand-sewn label on the inside of your leather goods. What’s most important is that your customer can quickly be reminded of your brand’s name when they’re using the product.
As you’ve just seen, branding is much more than just a logo and some fancy colours. It can be just a logo and fancy colours, but there are many opportunities wasted if you take this option.
Knowing how customisable Shopify is and the sheer range of plugins available, you’re able to automate and personalised just about every aspect of your brand.
In doing so, you’ll show that your brand is paying attention to the finer details that your competitors didn’t. It shows that your brand cares about how it’s perceived to the outside world. And ultimately, it’s this concept that will help take your brand’s name to the next level.