Today I’m going to write about branding your e-commerce business. The importance of branding can’t be overstated. Good branding will set you apart from your competition and keep customers coming back.
But how do you go about branding your business?
What does that even mean?
Instead of explaining branding with vague terms like ‘visual identity’ and ‘sans serif font family,’ I’m going to build a brand from scratch while you follow along.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to:
- Identify brand buzzwords on Instagram
- Find a click-worthy business name
- Create a memorable logo
- Communicate your brand to customers
Branding your business is super-important, and that’s especially true if you’re dropshipping with Spocket and Shopify. That’s because there’s typically more than one dropshipper selling a given product. Good business branding sets those sellers apart from one another and big-box competition like Amazon.
By the way, if you’re new here, dropshipping is one of the easiest ways to start an online business. Instead of buying tons of inventory for your Shopify store, you only order products when you get sales. Your supplier ships your orders for you, so you can sell all over the world!
For today’s article on branding strategy, I’m going to build an entire brand around a single niche. And that niche is men’s jackets.
I want to sell jackets like this one. I think my customers will like the street style of the denim jacket and the warmth of the sheepskin lining. However, this jacket is about $27.5 without shipping. I want to sell it about $97 to make a profit.
To get sales at such a high price point, I need to build a brand. That brand should convey that my products are high-quality and worth the high prices I charge for them. But let’s stop for a second.
What is a brand?
A brand is an impression a store has on its customers. Online stores make these impressions through a combination of store design, copywriting, colour palettes, and imagery.
In other words, imagine your store was a person you met on the street.
- What would your store look like?
- How would they walk?
- How would they talk?
- What would they say?
There’s actually a correct answer here. Your store should look like, walk like, and talk like… your customers. We’re attracted to what we already recognize, and that goes for online stores as well as people. So if you build a brand that feels familiar to your customers, you’ll get more sales.
But wait. I’ve only just chosen what I want to sell. I don’t have any customers. How am I supposed to know what they look, walk, and talk like?
Enter the first step of branding your business. Head straight to Instagram.
Step 1: Research relevant Instagrammers
What I’m going to do here is find out who my customers are. Not like their full names, but their personalities. I want to know what they wear, what vibes they give off. To do that, I’m going to find people who are already using my product or something like it.
I searched for hashtags relevant to my niche -men’s fashion- and to this particular product -denim jackets, shearling jackets, and men’s jackets. Then I scrolled through the top posts, looking for captions that really said something. Here’s what I found.
This Instagrammer could easily be a customer. He’s already wearing a shearling-lined jacket! He uses emojis in his captions, and he describes his look as easy and cool. I wrote that down. Those are buzzwords that could come in handy later.
This Instagrammer looks a little tougher and more athletic.
Still, he’s wearing a stylish outfit, and maybe he’d be into my black denim jacket. He also uses emojis. His caption says he’s perfect in his own way and that’s all that matters. That tells me he’s confident and doesn’t care what the crowd thinks. My customers might feel that way too.
This Instagrammer is already rocking a denim jacket, so I know he could be a customer. Like the other two, he uses emojis. But he spends most of the caption talking about travel. That tells me that my target audience might be really interested in travelling as well as men’s fashion.
Taking these examples together, here’s what I jotted down about my potential customers.
- Likes to travel.
We’ll call these my brand buzzwords. Now I’m starting to form a brand in the image of my potential customers. My next step is to create the all-important business name.
Step 2: Create a business name
A lot of entrepreneurs spend hours stressing over their business name. It doesn’t have to be like that. When it comes to branding your business, there are three criteria for a good business name.
First, your business name should make it fairly obvious what you’re selling. Lots of brands break this rule and do just fine. But if you’re just starting out, don’t make your customers guess what you sell. In my case, I want words related to jackets, outerwear, or menswear in my business name.
The second rule of a good business name is that the name is somehow connected to my brand buzzwords.
And the third rule is that the business name has to be available as a dot com. Ideally, the name is available on social media channels too. With these rules in mind, let’s find a business name for my jacket startup.
First, I’ll head to the Shopify Business Name Generator.
Now I’ll type the word jackets. That checks off my first rule of finding a good business name since the word “jackets” relate to what I’m selling.
I’ll click Generate Names, and I get a lost of 100 possible business names. There’s a lot of good stuff on here. I like Everest Jackets, but I wonder if it’s a bit too outdoorsy for my customers. After all, when I think of Everest, I think of the mountain, Mount Everest. My brand buzzwords don’t include anything about the outdoors. I like Verve Jackets, but I wonder if people will know what Verve means. That could be confusing. Oh, but I really like Valor Jackets. The word valor makes me think of courage and masculinity, which fits with my brand’s confident and individualistic streak. That checks off rule two of finding a good brand name.
Now for rule three, I like to go to namecheck.com to see if the name I like is available. I’ll type in Valor Jacket, and Namecheck will show me a green icon if Valor Jacket is available as a domain or social handle.
Boom, it’s available as a .com, and it’s free on Facebook and Instagram. We have a winner! Now our brand has a face and a name!
The next step is to make it official. For now, let’s head over to Shopify and start branding our business.
After giving an email address and making up a password, I’m ready to go. I’ll use Valor Jackets as the name of my Shopify store.
A few seconds later, I’ll simply answer a few questions. I’m going to let Shopify know that I’m just starting out.
Then I’ll fill out my information, and click the button below.
Now I have a shop!
However, I don’t have valorjackets.com. I just have valorjackets.shopify.com.
To get the actual domain, I’ll click Online Store on the left.
Then I’ll click domains. I want to click Buy New Domain. When I search valorjackets, I see the dot com is available for $14.99 a year. I can get click Buy to get this domain without even leaving Shopify.
I just need to fill out my information and hit continue.
For the record, I didn’t buy Valor Jackets. If you love that domain name, it’s all yours! Now that I’ve got brand buzzwords, a great business name, and an online store, it’s time for the next step in e-commerce branding.
Step 3: Create a logo I’ve got to create a logo.
For this step, I’ll head on over to Hatchful, Shopify’s free logo creator tool. Hatchful first prompts me to choose my niche.
I’ll click fashion, and hit Next. Then Hatchful asks me to choose my visual style. I can deselect by clicking, and select again with another click. I remember my buzzwords include confident and cool. Bold and calm are similar, so I’ll keep those selected.
That sounds exactly like my customers: bold, calm, and strong! I’ll hit next. Here I’ll enter my business name and hit Next. Then Hatchful asks what I’ll use the images for. Since I’m in e-commerce, I chose Online Store and Social Media. I hit Next.
Now Hatchful presents me with a ton of logo options.
There were tons of great options. I ended up picking this logo right here.
It kind of looks like a pilot’s wings and that connects with my customer’s love of travel. I’m not really into the font of colours, but I can change all that once I hit Next.
By selecting font on the left, I can scroll through different font options for one I like best.
Now that’s a confident logo. But that soft blue doesn’t really fit my brand. I’m exploring my options here, and I really like this dark, rust-red colour.
That logo looks great. I’ll hand over my email address, and Hatchful will send my new logo right to my inbox.
Now, I have my logo, I can sign up for Instagram and Facebook. I’ll use my logo as my profile photo on all social media accounts. But I also want to use my logo to shape the brand of my Shopify storefront.
Step 4: Start branding your business
So let’s move on to the last step of building your brand. For my last step, I’ll brand my Shopify store. I already went to my inbox to get my logos. Now that I’ve downloaded those, I’ll upload them to my store and add a bit more branding pizazz.
Let’s hop back into Shopify. I’ll click the Online Store, and it automatically takes me to themes. If you scroll down, you can hit Explore Free Themes. There are several cool ones, but I’m struck by Brooklyn. Even the demo is about outerwear! I’ll hit Add Brooklyn, but note that you have to click actions and Publish actually to use Brooklyn.
Now let’s start branding our business. Scroll up and hit Customize. The first thing I’ll do is add a Favicon. Click the Theme Settings tab on the right, then click Favicon. Select an image and upload the Hatchful logo you already downloaded. Hatchful names the Favicon-sized icon, so it’s easy to find.
I selected that, and now it’ll appear as the browser image, like this green Shopify bag.
Let’s go back to Theme Settings and click Colors. Personally, I think a black-and-white colour theme looks good for almost every brand. I just want to add my brand’s accent colour.
So for links and accents, I’ll choose this rust-red, that looks similar to the red of my logo. I’ll make that change for a few other colours as well. You’ll want to experiment with colours to see how they appear in your store. As you experiment, just make sure that it’s always easy for customers to read your text and see prices.
Let’s go back into Shopify and fiddle with some fonts. Click Typography. Now I want to change my heading fonts, so they resemble the font I use in my logo. Helpfully, you can preview fonts in this list of fonts provided by Shopify. After a bit of scrolling, I found a font that’s bold and narrow.
I’ll choose this as my header font. For the Brooklyn Theme, I’ll choose this same font for my Accent Text. I know the font name begins with an F, so I’ll type that in and select it.
For body text, I want the font to be really easy to read.
I really like Montserrat, Arial, and Times New Roman for readability. I’ll choose Montserrat here. Scrolling around, I can see that my brand is starting to take shape. It looks powerful and stylish. Like my customers!
Now let’s add some imagery. I really like Unsplash, an online catalogue of completely copyright-free stock photography. The trick here is that I DON’T want clear photos of jackets unless it’s a jacket I’m selling. Otherwise, customers might get frustrated that they can’t find the jackets in their photos.
Let’s go to Unsplash, and I’ll show you what I mean. If I begin by searching jacket, I see a bunch of great photos. But none of these looks like my exact product.
However, if I search for travel -one of my customer’s interests-bam.
The first thing I see is a guy wearing a jacket and looking out the window on a plane. I downloaded that immediately. I can keep scrolling for other photos with rugged-looking men looking at planes, but I probably won’t do better than that.
Now, I know he’s wearing a jacket. But at this distance, and with the flare of the sunlight, you can’t quite make out the details of the jacket. This could be the jacket I’m selling. And that’s a good grey area for stock photos. Now that I’ve got my stock photo, I’m going to upload it to Shopify and add some copywriting.
Back in Shopify, I’ll click Slideshow. Then I’ll select the dropdown arrow for the first slide, and click Select Image. I’ll upload my Unsplash.
Next, I want to add some copywriting. I’ll scroll below the image I just uploaded, and I see the Heading and Subheading fields. I’ll type something related to travel and jackets, like Jackets For every Journey.
With that, a brand is born!
Starting with a single product, I found a few brand buzzwords on Instagram. I then used those buzzwords to find a great business name and create a cool logo. And with that logo, I built a brand identity with coordinating colours and fonts in my Shopify store. Now it’s feedback time!
What do you think of the brand I built?
What would you change?
Let me know in the comments below. I’ll make sure to respond.