Ecommerce has made it much easier to take a new product to market - creating a point of sale is relatively straightforward and social media and Google have created easy to access promotional channels for marketing and audience building. What’s not so easy for some to work out is how to create a brand with the potential to thrive in this environment. As ecommerce experts we create brands that are designed to stand-out on the platforms that matter and in the mediums that work, so you can get noticed and get selling – we call them ecommerce-ready brands.
If you’re launching a product or are at a point where you need to take your brand to the next level it could be time to speak to us. To help you understand how you can plan a brand and what you need to do in advance, our Creative Director Andy Rouse has put together a few tips.
1. It's All In The Mind's Eye
When creating a brand it's a good idea to take some time to consider: what makes up a brand, and what is its purpose? What does a logo, font and colour palette actually achieve? In the first instance what you’re actually defining is the impression you will create in the viewer's mind – what people will think or feel as they encounter your brand for the first time. Within this it’s vital that they understand what you’re selling and why you’re special, so that they can decide to invest their time on learning more about you (which is key before people consider handing over their hard earned cash). While we’re talking time, make sure you get it across quickly at first, people don’t tend to hang around for long on digital platforms and aren’t generally looking for a puzzle to solve - it’s also a good idea to make one clear statement.
A good example I like to share of well-defined brand impressions is Dr Martens and Timberland. Both ultimately sell boots that have the same purpose, yet through clear brand propositioning (albeit accidental in Timberland’s case) one is the symbol of punk and the other hip-hop - each looking to attract different people with different values and outlooks in life.
So the key questions you really need to ask yourself when defining your brand are; what do you want people to feel, or what feeling do you want to tap into? And, what do they really need to know?
When working with Milk Electric to launch a premium scooter brand in London, we used the product itself, an unusual name and an adaptable messaging system to set the brand as a new and better option - and in doing so created desire. While the market is dominated by retailers selling a sea of black indistinguishable products, we applied colour to transform the scooter and paired it with short sharp messaging that sets the brand apart: ‘Milk…it’s in the ride…it’s in the service…it’s in the club.’
2. Create Recall
When launching a new brand it is also important to have the long game in mind. Once you’ve created a first impression and gained a viewer's attention you need to build on this achievement with follow up communication, moving from an acquaintance to a friend. As they encounter this communication it’s important that the viewer can recognise and therefore remember what you're about as a brand in an instant - this is known as brand recall. This is achieved through visual symbols and systems that become synonymous with your brand: they may be individual elements such as a colour, or a family of assets including a font, colour palette and photographic style. Together or on their own they spark a memory in the viewer's mind where they recall the basis of your brand - meaning you can crack on with building on this knowledge and moving them towards being a customer.
At its most simple, an example of symbols with quick recall would be Coca-Cola’s red and script font, or even just their classic bottle shape - which was actually designed to be recognisable even when smashed into several pieces. A more complex system would be Nike’s association with professional athletes, through which they appeal to the ‘everyman and woman’ by building association with the best - if it’s good enough for them, right? This system is backed up by what I would describe as their sign-off assets, their font and swoosh - which is so successful that the brand can now communicate without including their name at all (the dream!).
While recall needs to be built into a brand strategically from the start, it’s important to note that it takes time to embed into people’s minds and the market. The reason Nike can function with just their logo is they’ve invested heavily over a long period of time in making it universally recognisable.
Bee Sting’s unique selling point is that their cosmetics contain bee venom, a natural healing ingredient for healthy skin, so we set a vivid bee-inspired black and yellow as the recall system. As a colour palette it stands out with strong contrast, but most importantly it goes some way to communicate the core of the brand. Once the viewer knows and understands their USP, the colours will help them quickly recall this information, giving the brand a platform to build upon.
3. The Medium Is The Message
If you plan to use digital marketing channels to reach your audience then it’s important to have a brand that’s built for the mediums. Social media is increasingly dominated by film and motion, and we know from our work in content that film tends to get more views and interactions, sometimes a lot more! So when creating your brand you need to think of it in motion too - what’s your approach to film; will your logo and messaging animate? Another often overlooked element is the brand sonic - or put simply, your sound. At least some of this will be relevant as you build and it’s worth considering from the start.
Force Fitness is all about the demonstration of force as an athlete or enthusiast pushes their physical limits. We wanted to capture this as the core of the brand, setting imagery that would capture this moment as the primary brand language, using an identifiable gritty filmic style that is paired with short motivational messaging – effectively putting product demonstration at the heart of the brand.
4. Think Small
Remember when TV was considered ‘the small screen’?! Well due to the influence of smart devices, social media and mobile commerce those days are gone, and your brand now needs to function on phone-sized small screens. Any composition should be considered in this format. While a message or graphic may be just fine for a TV screen, it’s likely to be too small for mobile, and there’s no guarantee the viewer is watching with sound on, so important messaging should be backed up with a visual. This may be the only format your customer encounters before making a purchase, which means they’re likely to only see your logo as a 32px favicon, pretty small, so make sure it’s clear and memorable!
5. One Step At A Time
I'm not saying that you must do all of this to launch your brand and start selling. Quite the contrary. Unless you’ve got some serious budget to play with it’s likely that you will build slowly and in fact the path will be much more winding than predictable - you can’t do everything all at once.
(Book tip) If you’d like some reassurance from one of the biggest brands in the world, give Shoe Dog by Nike founder Phil Knight a read. In the first place you’ll learn that Nike started out selling imported running shoes, but what’s interesting is that the name and now infamous logo only came to be years later - and with some procrastination. The brand wasn’t perfectly planned and strategised from the outset. This is a good lesson in brand building: what’s really important is that you have a feeling and vision you can articulate; the rest we can work out.
If you’d like to talk to us about how our creative team can help get your brand ecommerce ready, drop us a line - we’d love to have a chat about your vision.