5 Point Brand Check for Your E-commerce Store

Britt and I met when I was running e-commerce at Destination Lighting.  Britt is one of the co-founders of a boutique creative services firm in Seattle called StatesOfMatter.   Britt is passionate about e-commerce branding, who is doing it well and who isn't.  Britt delivered an incredibly practical presentation on how you can audit your own brand to make sure you building brand equity rather than destroying your brand's value.


Britt Stromberg:    Hello everyone. I'm Britt Stromberg from States of Matter. We are a brand agency specializing in tech and commerce brands. Over my career, I've branded about 50 companies. I see a lot of brands struggle with the same missteps. I'm going to share five things that can help your brand be a well-tuned engagement engine for your company. Here's the thing, in business, brand is often treated like the dwarf child. Merely tolerated or ignored, not equally invested in, but brand can be your secret weapon, much like Tyrion Lannister. If you take care of it, it will not go and join the other side and try to destroy you. From experience, I've learned that successful brands do five things really well. These range from customer clarity to documentation of the brand. I'm going to break down these five things with some examples and tools. I recommend that you plan to assess all five of these things, at least, one time per year. 

Britt Stromberg:    The first thing to do is to start with your audience. Always, right? These are your most important people because they buy what you sell. Put another way, you probably spend more time with these people and thinking about these people your customers, then you spend with your spouse or family, but what do you really know about what they want? Here is a great tool to know more about what they want. This is the strategyzer value proposition canvas, which is awesome for aligning what you sell with what your customers want. I'm sure that you're already connecting with your customers in one way or another, but you really should make it an annual event to update the customer journey map and write a short one paragraph profile that describes who they are and why they should buy from you. 

Britt Stromberg:    I'll give you an example. This is Roucha, a great example of a new eCommerce company that clearly states who their customer is. What they've done is, they've written a profile and they're sharing it. I think this is a really great way to attract, exactly, the customers that you want. This is a new clothing line from the founder of Totokaelo. This is a brilliant statement that informs their strategic advantage of a new sizing paradigm. It also functions as a really clear customer profile. This type of customer clarity is going to help you make a better product, operational, and marketing decisions. 

Britt Stromberg:    The second thing that you need to be doing is making a promise with your brand. Brands that make a promise to their customers are more purposeful and they tend to be more memorable. Remember, brand promise is not your mission statement. Brand promise is the ultimate commitment that you make to your customers to stand for something that makes their life better. Let's look at imperfect produce, an online produce delivery service. Their mission is to take what farmers would otherwise throw away and make it useful, but their ultimate promise is to combat food waste, which is a major societal challenge. Their food waste brand promise shows up in all of their marketing, from packaging inserts to Instagram posts. Here's why the brand promise matters, customer loyalty. 

Britt Stromberg:    A strong brand promise is a way to combat limited marketing budget. You can throw everything you've got against spreading your brand promise if you're a new company. Why should you do this? Because when you stand for more than profit, customers notice and they talk about it a lot. That's loyalty. There are three strategies for refining your brand promise. In case you're wondering how to do that, which many companies do. One, tackle tough societal challenge like food waste. Or you can ride a trend wave like Everlane is doing with their radical transparency. Or you can stand for just one thing by ruthlessly simplifying like Brooks is doing with their running shoes and they're focused exclusively on runners and run happy. 

Britt Stromberg:    The third thing that you need to pay attention to is your brand personality. You need to be able to describe your brand. It drives me crazy when a marketing director cannot tell me what their brand personality is. The words smart, innovative, and disruptive, they don't count. Those are boring. You need to pick three words that represent your unique visual and verbal personality. Otherwise, you risk wasting money producing content that's not truly on brand. Here's an example from Figma, a collaborative interface development tool. I think their three personality words are open, dynamic, and helpful. Their entire customer experience personifies these words from their website to their actual product to their office space to their emails to their blog posts. I bet that even the people that they hire fit that personality profile too. 

Britt Stromberg:    Another wild example is Tushy, a bidet that clips to your toilet. Wow. Their three words are edgy, confrontational, and unapologetic. Great example if you have limited money and you want to stand out quick, hire a topnotch designer copywriter duo and go all in on personality just like Tushy has done. It will get you noticed. If you don't know what your personality is, here is a kick starter. These are personality words that you can apply to your brand. These are some of the words that we have found work best in helping to design and write for all types of brands. You get bonus points when you align your brand personality with your audience profile. 

Britt Stromberg:    The fourth thing to take care of is to make sure that you're aligning your touchpoints. You need to check for consistency in all of your channels especially if you're growing and you don't have a brand manager or a creative director to monitor your output. Look at your outputs and make sure that they're consistent visually and in the tone of voice to build an engaging brand. Customers really notice consistency these days. It's what attracts loyal customers to brands like Starbucks, McDonald's, Nike, et cetera. 

Britt Stromberg:    An example of this is MM.LaFleur. They are a women's workwear brand and they're sold online and via offline showrooms. They nail every freaking touchpoint masterfully. I love, love, love this brand. I've watched them grow from launch to becoming a real juggernaut. They've been consistent from the beginning. They invested very early in a director of brand and it really shows. One way you get that degree of mastery is to printout all of your assets for the past year and hang them on a wall. You need to be looking at the holes. You need to be looking for areas of improvement. You need to make sure that you are looking in all of these different channels. Like literally print everything out. You also need to be looking at your engagement metrics and using the opportunity annually to make refinements to your visuals, voice, and content strategy. 

Britt Stromberg:    Lastly, number five, is your brands framework. This is the manual that guides your team and vendors. You absolutely need a short overview that you can share with new hires, outside vendors and influencers, anyone that's going to be working with your brand. Here's an example of a one page brand framework that we did recently. It captures the fundamentals and it can be shared with others. Depending on the complexity of your brand, you might need to expand the framework to include photo style or dos and don'ts for tone. More than anything, keep guidelines really simple and hire the right talent to interpret them. If you do all five of those things once a year, your brand will be a well-tuned strategic weapon. Your customers will notice. Maybe they'll even do a little jig every time they engage with your company. Thanks so much.