A Branding Guide for Ecommerce Startups

Ecommerce Branding

Many startups in ecommerce tend to get launched in haste without putting much thought into the aesthetics of their product/service. Over the years, people have not focused much on branding and have focused instead on profit maximization.

Branding is a misunderstood concept for several startups in their infancy stage. Most of the ecommerce entrepreneurs think that getting a logo will be sufficient for branding their business. In reality, a brand is so much more than just a logo and a website. It’s an entire persona of your business.

Seth Godin knows the trouble when he says: “Branding is problematic. Branding is ill-defined, usually vacuous, often expensive and totally unpredictable.”

The process of branding a business can be very expensive for startups, which are already on a tight budget. Moreover, if a branding agency is involved in the equation, the cost can accelerate to a few thousand dollars and above.

For startups, it is not necessary to opt for a branding agency in the initial stages. However, business owners can easily learn the elements of branding and eventually do it themselves.

What is a brand?

Why do people choose to wear shoes by Nike or Adidas when they start working out? It is because of their high-end brand image that resonates through their marketing, appearance and business model. Consumers have heard and seen that famous athletes endorse these brands, and so does every other person in the gym.

Every brand desires to create an aura to outshine. You have to make your business so popular and reflect a story in such a way that it encourages people to do business with you.

It doesn’t end there. A brand is a continuously evolving entity which keeps giving back to its customers. Many components work in unison to make brands a success and help it function smoothly. It is memorable, flawless and effective in its niche. Since emotions rule people, some customers tend to follow the hype and relate to a brand’s story because they find it relatable in some way.

One can’t be Serena Williams in real life, but a person can surely buy the sportswear she rocks at major sporting events to relate to her at some level.

Serena Williams

Likewise, if you have ever heard the term “I’ll Amazon Prime it,” you will understand the kind of branding we are talking about. It is important for you to make your customers want to think of you as the resource they essentially need in their lives.

A brand strategy

To acquire and retain customers, one needs to design a strategy that encompasses the short- and long-term success. Branding strategy is more than just selling your business. A brand strategy is a plan that defines how customers think of the products you are offering and your business in general. It involves several components, such as:

  • The mission behind your store.
  • The way you can help customers.
  • The way everyone thinks of your store.
  • The qualities that define your store and that people attribute to your store.

A thorough market research will inform you about the branding components, and the target audience will help you define the exact areas where you need to work. Your ecommerce business can be more engaging online once you are aware of these important aspects of your market. Simon Sinek said it in his Tedtalk: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

What makes your ecommerce store better than all the others? You need to list all the important details about your ecommerce store to identify the best selling point. This will become the guiding light for other decisions you make regarding branding.

For example, Justin Winters founded his brand called Diamond Candles online. His USP was the fact that customers will find a ring inside when the candle burns out. The ring could be valued at various prices, ranging from $10 to $5,000. This curiosity around his product made it sell more. Their customers were not only buying fragrant soy candles, but also anticipating what they are going to find inside the candle. Here’s his full story.

You can only find out your USP after careful analysis of your competitors and a lot of brainstorming over your product.

Product Quality

You should make sure that your store is not like many other stores: based on a dropshipping model with zero attention paid to product quality. Product quality leads to both positive and negative customer reviews and, being an online business, you need to have as many positive reviews as possible. Negative product reviews were enough to shut down Chipotle, so you have to be very keen on the quality you provide to each customer.


What is better than good old customization in branding your business? Everything should reflect your story. The website, the product pages, the call-to-actions on any page and even the packaging. Personalization has a lot of attraction in the eyes of the customer, as it raises the perceived value of your products.

Many designers and cosmetic line owners ship their customers beautifully packed goods with a personalized message to show gratitude. If you still have any doubts about using personalization for your brand, then look at the strategy of Loot Crate, a monthly subscription box for gamers.

Visual assets

Online businesses rely on visual assets a lot more than traditional businesses do. Once you know about your audience and your business story, it will become relatively easier to work on things that will eventually become the face of your business. Visual assets include the following:

  • Logo
  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Photos



Colors set the tone for your business, and they stay in the minds longer. Close your eyes and try to remember the brands you know with the specific colors you remember. They do it by following a specific color palette. You can also make a color palette by doing a little search online. You can also extract a color palette out of your product and marketing photos using Adobe Kuler.


Using these colors, you can ask your web developer to design a logo, color fonts and beautify call-to-actions. If you want to learn more about extracting colors for branding, consider taking this course on Skillshare: Color on the web 1: Design Cohesive Pallets.


Logo designing is where you let your creativity run amok. Choose  a logo based on anything – your brand name, your demographics or anything else that inspires you. Apple Inc is a maker of gadgets and has the logo of a half-eaten apple, while Starbucks has a mermaid in their logo. Choose your element and make it popular.


Amazon has a simple yet memorable logo


You know that fonts are an integral part of the brand persona since they are used to describe products and categories. You should choose two to three fonts that will do all the text-based jobs required on your website. You can look at the only font pairing guide you need to understand how three fonts are used on a website’s header, body and promotion boxes.


Fonts help in describing your brand’s story


Photos are very important. Not only should they be attached to each product description, but also in your marketing messages. For this purpose, you need to have one specific theme for these photos to convey a specific message. You can choose white backgrounds behind product images or any natural setting you like. Just make sure that you stay consistent with this style. Here’s an example of Beardbrand:


Make a strong foundation

An excellent ecommerce website is strong from the very foundation. Once you have the strategies aligned with your business, you can operate everything smoothly. You can turn your ecommerce store into a company with these well-established branding components. Social media sharing and using the right medium to portray your business can do the engaging part with the customers and bring in organic traffic.

Even if someone hears about your site or stumbles upon it, your overall branding should be inviting and encouraging enough for them to return. When you resonate effectively with your target audience, you grow better as both a brand and a service. In short, be seen and leave a positive impression on a customer’s mind.

Moosa Hemani

Moosa is a seasoned online marketing professional with a strong interest in SEO, E-Commerce and what makes users flow from visitor to customer. Moosa is responsible for all content on the Awesome Commerce website.

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