So you have decided to set up an online store! Congratulations and welcome to the world of ecommerce! Have you stopped to think about how you will personalize your online store to reflect your business? In other words, have you considered the importance of creating a brand identity?
Why does Brand Identity Matter?
In today’s world, where comparison-shopping is a norm and consumers are likely to look any many different online stores before they make a purchase, it has become more important than ever to have a distinct brand identity. With a strong brand identity, you will stand out from your competition. This is what will ensure not only top-of-mind brand recall by online shoppers, but will also eventually lead to brand loyalty.
What constitutes Brand Identity in an Online Store?
Let’s first look at all the elements that constitute Brand Identity when it comes to a website. What are the things that distinguish your ecommerce store from that of your competitors, apart from your specific inventory? The answer would be: 1. Logo 2. Banner 3. Colours 4. Look and Feel 5. Site Architecture Now let’s look at why each of these elements is important and how it contributes to your Brand Identity. We'll use the website of Zeus Motorcycle Gear, a Webware customer, to illustrate our points.
Your company’s logo is a visual representation of your identity. It offers a glimpse into the values and philosophy of your company as well as its aspirations. A logo also helps distinguish one company from another, in much the same way that a face helps distinguish one person from another. That is why it is important that you put in substantial effort to create a smart, professional logo that will actually be able to represent your company and its ideology in full, with an eye-catching and professional-looking image that you display on every page of your online store.
2. Homepage Banner
First off, we want to stress that your home page banner image (or images) are changeable and, in fact, should be changed often to promote different products and promotions, and to keep your home page fresh and interesting for returning customers. So in general, here are some tips on the types of images you should use in your banner space. It is important to remember that:
- images make a deeper impression on people than text, and
- your banner image is going to be the first, and most likely, the largest image a visitor is going to see when they land on your online store home page.
For these reasons, it is important that ALL your banner images are consistently able to wow your site visitors. They should be original, unique and highly representative of the company’s standards in terms of quality as well as values. Don't just use the default images that come with your theme. You should really take time and effort (and hire outside designers if necessary) to personalise your online store with exciting and beautiful banners.
This is perhaps the easiest and one of the most effective methods of distinguishing your online store and creating a "personality" for your brand. If you choose distinct colours for your brand and use them consistently across all your communications like your website, visiting cards, letterheads, invoices, labelling, packaging, etc., your customers as well as any visitors who land on your website will come to associate those colours with your brand. Such brand associations can become very valuable both in the short and the long term. So it's important that you choose your brand colours with care, and that you use these colours consistently on your online store as well as your offline mediums.
4. Look and Feel
The ‘Look and Feel’ of your e-commerce website represents the essence and quality of your brand and products. In the case of Zeus Motorcycle, their website has a look and feel that reflects their brand -- masculine and action-packed. On the other hand, if you are selling traditional sarees for example, you’ll likely want your website to have a more vintage, authoritative and artistic look. Aside from colours, the elements that contribute the most to the look and feel of your online store are:
- Most importantly, your website template (or “theme”)
- Fonts, font sizing and spacing
- Images and image sizes
- Image-to-text ratio
It is important that you create a look and feel for your store that is right for your brand and your product catalog, because this is the background against which your products are being showcased, and they should complement each other.
5. Site Architecture
This one seems like an unusual entry into a list about personalising your online store to create a brand identity. In fact, it is a very critical element. Your site architecture determines how easy and effortless it is for the visitor to browse your site and find the products they are looking for. A visitor’s experience while visiting your online store is going to play a large role in how they perceive your brand. In today’s day and age when people are shopping online more and more, people tend to remember and frequent those online stores that make their shopping experience easy and hassle-free. A good e-commerce site should have:
- Easy-to-navigate product categories
- Products grouped in logical categories (think about how your customers would browse in a real-world store)
- Use of sub-categories if there are many products (ie Men/Women/Children, then each of these would have Shirts/Pants/Shoes subcategories)
- A product search bar
Ensuring that your online store has the right site architecture goes a long way in creating brand loyalty because your site visitors will have a positive shopping experience.
Now you try it!
When you set up your online store, be sure to personalise your website with a logo, colours, fonts, and banner images that reflect your brand. From the start, when choosing your theme, always keep your brand in mind. Even if you haven’t thought in terms of brand identity before, the fact is that these elements will make a big difference in how people perceive your company and products, and it will affect whether or not they choose to do business with you. So, take the time and effort to make the right choices, always keeping in mind how you want customers to think and feel about your brand and your business. And here’s wishing you all the success in the world!