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The 4-Attributes Of A Powerful E-commerce Brand (Part Two)

Jul 29, 2021


Series Overview: There are the 4 attributes of a powerful e-commerce brand. In the first article in this series, I described the invisible aspects of a powerful e-commerce brand.

In this article, we'll discuss visible aspects of a powerful e-commerce brand and how you can put them together in support of your online selling efforts. These aspects are frequently overlooked entirely, or put together quickly without thoughtful consideration. This article will give you key insights into how to use them effectively.

Influences on this article include the work of Jon Ward, I'd encourage you to look into his work.

The 1st Visible Aspect - The Name Of Your Brand: The name of your brand is the most important visible element. It's the aspect of your brand that you need to spend the most time working on.

Myth: All the good names are taken

Reality: There is an unlimited number of great options available for your brand.

Let's look a just some of the options available to you:

  1. Last Name: Simply using your last name is a common and effective naming option. It can work well for many types of products and companies in many niches. Famous examples in the Seattle area include Nordstrom and Boeing. 
  2. Compound Word: Putting two unique words together can form a powerful and interesting brand name. The most popular recent example is Facebook.
  3. Portmanteau: A Portmanteau is a word made up of two words abbreviated together. Two famous examples are Microsoft (Microprocessor + software) and FEDEX (Federal + Express). 
  4. Initials: Initials can make an effective brand name - if you can find a way to explain them to prospects in a simple way. They also need to be memorable on their own. Sometimes they work well, sometimes they don't. Famous examples include UPS (United Parcel Service) and REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.).
  5. Descriptive: Sometimes brands are most powerful if they simply describe the product or the benefit to the customer. A popular example is Whole Foods or the (good book) Private Label The Easy Way.
  6. Neologism: A Neologism is a "New Word". Rather than trying to pick from the current dictionary, why not make up your own new word? Popular examples include Aspirin, Kleenex, and Xerox.
  7. Geographic: A geographic name can be very simple and powerful. And they are generally more available than other name ideas. Popular examples include Kirkland (the Costco brand) and The Maui T-Shirt Company.
  8. Co-Opted: A co-opted (taken) brand name can be very effective. The strategy is generally to take an existing word and re-apply it to your product or company. Popular examples include Apple, Google, and Amazon. Each had a meaning before the technology company took them as their own. 

The 2nd Visible Aspect - The Logo You Use: Many brands don't use a logo, they simply make their name into a logo. That's a great approach. But the purpose of a logo is to work where words won't work. For example, in a very small space, or in a space that is filled with symbols.

There are 3 easy ways you can create an effective logo depending on your budget. I highly recommend you use one of these options rather than trying to make your own from scratch. 

  1. Canva.com: Canva is FREE, simple to use, template driven, and can produce fantastic outcomes. If you need to make your own logo because of budget considerations, give it a try.
  2. Fiverr.com: There are graphic artists that will make you a logo for as little as $5. Some of them can be surprisingly good. Other times, they aren't. But the upside of using Fiverr is that if you're unhappy with the outcome, at least you haven't lost too much money.
  3. 99Designs.com: 99 Designs is a marketplace for sophisticated and professional graphic artists. You set up a contest, they compete, and you get to pick the winner. You can even allow your friends and family to vote on the various options. These packages are several hundred dollars, so it takes a bit more budget, but the terrific part is - you get to give feedback along the way - and the artists adapt and change the designs based on YOUR vision, not their own.

The 3rd Visible Aspect - The Tagline: A Tagline, descriptive statement, or slogan is a powerful communication tool. The purpose is to associate a key concept with your brand. A tagline needs to be memorable, convey one idea, and underscore your brand promise. Popular examples of taglines include:

  • Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Is There (State Farm)
  • A Diamond Is Forever (DeBeers) 
  • Be All You Can Be (United States Army)
  • Breakfast Of Champions (Wheaties)
  • Do The Dew (Mountain Dew Cola)
  • Eat Fresh (Subway)
  • Good To The Last Drop (Maxwell House)
  • Got Milk? (California Milk Processor Board)
  • I Want My MTV (MTV)
  • It Takes A Licking And Keeps On Ticking (Timex Watches)
  • Just Do It (Nike)
  • Pizza Pizza (Little Caesars Pizza)
  • Taste The Rainbow (Skittles)
  • When It Absolutely, Positivity, Has To Be There Overnight (FEDEX)

The 4th Visible Aspect - Back-Story: The back-story is an under-used elements of most brands. But smart marketers use it for a wide variety of reasons. Rookie marketers will avoid crafting a compelling back-story for fear of sharing too much about themselves. They should do just the opposite. Done well, a back-story can:

  • Allow the customer to bond with you as they see aspects of your character or mission that they identify with or support.
  • It can also help you convey you're a "real person" or a company filled with "real-caring people". This can humanize a large company when needed. It can also turn your founder into an effective spokesperson for the brand.
  • A back-story can also serve to attract your ideal customers and repel your unwanted customers. You do that by taking a strong stand on topics that click with your ideal customers and annoying or aggravating to your unwanted customers.  

The 5th Visible Aspect - The Colors: The colors you choose can become a powerful aspect of your brand. To make it work you need to be very intentional about the repeated use of the colors. You also need to use colors that your customer doesn't already associate with another brand. This can be challenging.

The 6th Visible Aspect - The Font Choice: The fonts you use repeatedly can become a meaningful part of your brand as well. This is a more subtle aspect, but it can be an effective tool. As with the colors you choose, the font needs to be available in the mind of the customer and not already associated with another brand. For this reason, many large companies commission artists to make a unique font just for their use, which becomes intellectual property.

In the next article in this series, we'll look at the legal aspects of a brand and how to determine if you can use it or not. 

Keep Building!

Jason Miles

Get More Training Now: This blog article is adapted from just one small part of the Shopify Growth Hacking Video CourseGet the full video course now for just $25, a 50% savings.

Go Deeper Into Brand Building For E-commerce: Want even more training and insights? Get my latest branding course today! And for the first 25 people who sign-up, I've got a totally free Review Copy coupon for you (only available for a very limited time). All I ask in return is that you complete the course and leave your highest and best review. 

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Jason Miles


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