Brands are not born overnight rather they are built over long periods of time with a persistent approach and great product.
“I am building a consumer brand” is one of the buzz phrases you will hear often within the start-up community; more so because it is the core investment theme among the VCs nowadays. It is easy to build a website, sell a product with discounts, but building a brand – online or offline, is not easy! Brands are not born overnight rather they are built over long periods of time with a persistent approach and great product.
Being an entrepreneur in the E-commerce brand space and having observed some fantastic global brands emerge, I am sharing some fundamentals that I learned over the years.
- Product is the hero: The most crucial aspect of building a brand is – to get the product right, have a core USP and make it stand out. Should you falter here, no marketing tactic would be able to help in retaining your customers. One time purchases can be initiated through discounts, celebrity endorsements, and other such schemes, but customers will only return if they love the product. So invest in product development and market fit.
- Really know your customer: To provide a great brand experience, a deep understanding of target consumers, their buying behavior and preferences, is crucial. For example, if you target professional working women, you will observe higher engagement from them during non-work hours – early mornings (before 9 am), late evenings and on weekends. Therefore, build your marketing events accordingly.
- Build for a Seamless Experience – Across the User’s Journey: This is one of the most clichéd points to talk about, even so, it is crucial to building the brand and therefore I’d like to add a nuance here – focus on ‘feelings’ that you need to evoke during the customer’s journey. Let’s take an example of a consumer’s journey with a new brand. It is likely that the brand will be identified via social media, i.e., through Facebook, Instagram. Therefore, these platforms need to create a feeling of desire among the target audience to buy it – by showcasing its USP and exciting imagery!
- Original Content and Consistent Communication: Content is crucial in the digital world, there is no denying that. However, its originality and relevance hold the kind of importance that is not known to many. The content created should also be in the right format for the appropriate media and should be consistent throughout. Original, distinctive and engaging content helps consumers to connect with the brand and its philosophy. Everlane is one on my favourite examples –their story on radical transparency is their USP and gets communicated consistently across platforms, i.e., on Facebook, social media and both their online and offline stores.
- Use Technology Effectively and Smartly: For an online brand to engage with its target audience, technology is critical. It requires the brand to use its webpage/app, engagement tools, CRM etc., effectively. However, it is equally important to realize that technology is an enabler and not the end product. Many brands (rather web-stores) use excessive technological tools which hamper the consumer experience more than enabling consumers. To put it together, focus on customer and experience you want them to have and leverage the technology to enable the experience.
- Leverage Data Effectively: There is enough data available for a brand to understand its customers, their needs, browsing behavior, favourite products etcetera. This enables one to create a personalized journey for consumers, curate products, content and imagery that would resonate with the customers. This is one core advantage of online brands over offline inventory based stores.
As a brand, you invest a lot to make it stand out. What sticks in the long term is how your brand touches its consumers and their feelings. There is no right or wrong way to build a brand, but some old principles still hold true!