Originally published on October 5, 2017, updated January 17, 2020
Back in the day, long before the Internet, it was common to buy groceries straight from farmers selling food from the back of their trucks. When you found a farmer you liked, you went to him every time; you knew from past experience that he sold quality goods, and that kept you coming back for more. On top of that, the small talk meant every sale brought you a step closer as friends.
This kind of personal connection was a powerful sales tool, to say nothing of friendliness. The bond between vendor and customer was so strong, people continued to buy home-grown groceries even after massive supermarket chains and the convenience eCommerce entered the scene. Today, we still have farmer’s markets, independent produce stands, and farmers selling from trucks — even in first-world countries like the U.S.
What does this have to do with you selling on the Amazon marketplace? You can apply the same approach that made roadside grocers successful to your Amazon business.
In eCommerce, it’s not you selling your products, it’s your brand. Your brand becomes the friendly face you see on the side of the road, which reminds previous customers of past experiences with your goods and entices them to buy again from you.
But while a kind smile or a quick joke can set you apart in person, on the Amazon marketplace there’s a lot more competition. You need a strong brand identity to first attract business, and then later retain it.
That’s what we’re going to talk about here. I've compiled a list of 5 tried-and-true techniques for strengthening your brand identity on the Amazon marketplace, the world’s largest and most profitable “roadside” market.
The first step to building your identity is knowing exactly what that identity is. All too often vendors gloss over this aspect, slapping a generic name to their product line so they can hurry to the part about making money. But before anything else, you and your team need to brainstorm which kind of identity you want to have, and which will help your business most.
This isn’t an abstract exercise, but one grounded in logic and data. Start by looking at your customer base, whether an existing one or a future target, and ask the right questions. How old are they? What gender? Level of education? How much do they spend per session? If you want more hands-on guidance, read this 99designs article with 20 quick brain exercises for getting your gears turning.
You mold your brand identity after your target customers. If you want to appeal to younger consumers, you’ll want a brand identity that’s playful and energetic. If you want to appeal to top-tier professionals, you’ll want a brand identity that’s a little more formal to inspire trust and dependability.
While this step might seem superfluous, in reality it comes with many practical applications. For one, your brand identity will have a direct effect on how you market yourself. It also dictates the style of your images, written copy and pricing. It directly affects the development of your brand name, story and logo, which brings us to our next tip...
“A rose by any other name...,” huh? Shakespeare obviously never studied marketing. Your brand name, and the story associated with it, creates a personality for your brand. It’s what humanizes you and helps set you apart from the faceless thousands of your competitors.
A good brand name should be memorable, maybe with a clever slogan attached. It should also reflect your brand identity: using your last name would appeal to older and more conventional markets, but wouldn’t do as well with younger consumers. Keep your target audience in mind. You also need to ensure it’s not already taken, but a quick search or two can settle that.
Creating your brand story is easier after you’ve fleshed out your brand identity. Your brand story comprises your company’s business goals and attitude, and is closely linked to your mission statement. For example, are you trying to provide an affordable alternative to a luxury item? Do you only use environmentally healthy ingredients? These are important aspects of your story, and every mention of them strengthens your brand identity.
As you move past the early-stage developments of your brand identity, it's time to get into more concrete and specific tactics for improving sales, especially on the Amazon marketplace. Chief among these is your logo, the very face of your brand.
The goal of your logo is for your customer base to associate it with quality products and positive feelings. You want your customers to feel that moment of excitement when they open their package and see a product with your logo on it.
Logo design is an area worthy of its own article, but for now here are some quick guidelines to consider:
Once you have your logo finalized, don’t be afraid to use it. Try to find a happy medium between using it sparingly and plastering it everywhere.
One of the best reasons to invest in brand identity is repeat business. Like the friendly farmers, you want people to like your products enough to come back without even thinking. This kind of bond is difficult (but not impossible) if you only sell one product. It’s better to hedge your bets with multiple (and related) products.
Offering multiple products gives first-time customers a variety to choose from; while Product A appeals to some shoppers, Product B appeals to others. Offering variety means satisfying more customers.
Expanding on that, I'd say that if your products follow a theme or are related, they’ll appeal more to your customer base. In other words, if your customer loved Product A, and Product A is similar to Product B, then chances are your customer will also enjoy Product B.
This is one of the most crucial elements of brand identity. The end goal is for consumers to associate your brand with a certain type (and quality) of product. To further the farmer analogy, if a customer loves your radishes, the next time they need turnips, they'll think of you.
Last but not least, you need to get your brand out there. Share your brand identity with the world so that everyone knows who you are and what you’re about — and where to find you.
What’s the best way to do this? Every way. The more marketing avenues you pursue, the more customers you earn. That’s not to say throw your money away at any new channel; consider the return on investment for each and allocate your budget accordingly.
One of the most effective (and cheapest) ways to get your name out there is social media. Choose the mediums that match your brand identity and speak directly to your target audience. For example, channels like Tumblr and Snapchat are used mostly by the under 25 demographic, LinkedIn is the preferred medium of B2B companies, women outnumber men on Pinterest, etc. To learn more about social media targeting, read this Sprout Social article.
Advertising works well for getting your name out there. If you’re worried about cost, sponsored search advertising on both the Amazon platform and Google Adwords can be used on a pay-per-click system, so you can scale the price to your needs.
Additionally, you might want to consider getting your products onto the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores. So much of brand identity is presence, both online and off. The more people see your products (and your logo), the more they remember you and the stronger your brand identity.
Don’t forget that none of these are isolated ventures — they all work together. The more followers you get on social media, the more traffic you get to your Amazon pages. The more traffic your Amazon pages get, the better your search results in Google searches. Don’t think of these as individual undertakings, but as different aspects of the same main directive.
Which brands do you admire most? What about their identity speaks to you? We want to hear your thoughts, so share your opinions in the comments section now.
Originally published on October 5, 2017, updated January 17, 2020
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.