Emotional Brand-building in the E-commerce Space: Part 1

This two-part edition of Radius Radar is written by Nika Kabiri, Radius VP, with Lindsay Pedersen of Ironclad Brand Strategy

E-Commerce has fundamentally changed the way people shop. Many of these changes are obvious: It’s no longer necessary to get in your car and battle traffic get to a store. But so much product information has also made online shopping increasingly about the specs. You simply line up what you want with what you see online and select the option that offers the best match.

This has led some to believe that brand building is increasingly irrelevant. Why worry about your brand image, value proposition, or reputation in the e-commerce space when consumers mostly evaluate specs?

Here are some reasons why brand-building has become more important, and in very new ways, for this e-commerce world:

1. Everything seems the same.

Brand becomes important when all options in a category are alike. Imagine shopping online for eco-friendly, recycled toilet paper. All options are made from recycled paper, have no added chemicals, are biodegradable, and are hypo-allergenic. These attributes, by definition, make up eco-friendly toilet paper. Which do you choose? This is where brand kicks in. Product features being equal, most consumers will likely choose the brand they know and believe they can trust. Brand is a tie-breaker where consumers can’t decide.

2. Your brand is more expensive.

Brand also matters for high ticket items. Imagine shopping online for a smartphone. You might compare screen size and pixilation, battery life, memory, and a host of other things. But you’re spending quite a bit more than you would be on, say, toilet paper, so you want to be extra cautious about making the right decision. This is where brand matters. A well-known brand with a positive reputation can reassure consumers that they’re making a solid bet. Brand is a tie-breaker when security in decision-making becomes paramount.

If you’re selling products and services online, you can’t relax when it comes to building your brand. If you don’t do the work of shaping your brand, consumers will define your brand for you.”

3. Category engagement is infrequent.

Brand is also relevant for products that aren’t frequently purchased or understood, where consumers have no idea how to evaluate their options. Reviewing online specs might be challenging when you don’t know what specs are important in the first place. Brand is a tie-breaker when the actual product or service might be a bit of a mystery.

4. Consumers are unsure.

Not all consumers absorb product specs the same, and not all of them care about the same specs. Moreover, consumers in shopping mode might be wondering how much they should even care about each feature they’re evaluating. Brand becomes a tie-breaker when the relevance of each product or service spec is unclear to the consumer.

If you’re selling products and services online, you can’t relax when it comes to building your brand. If you don’t do the work of shaping your brand, consumers will define your brand for you.

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Ironclad principal Lindsay Pedersen is a brand strategy consultant with a scientific, growth-oriented approach to brand building. She has advised companies from burgeoning startups to national corporations, including Zulily, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Coinstar and IMDb.
Her background as a P&L owner at Clorox fostered in Lindsay a deep appreciation for the executive’s charge: increasing the company’s value. There, she led mature, billion-dollar businesses and newly-launched categories, from Clorox Bleach to Armor All to Brita. In each case, she was solely responsible for increasing the business’s value.
Thanks to this executive perspective, Lindsay demands that brands be hard-working, disciplined and rigorous in growing a business. Her brand strategies are tested in the crucible of her proprietary Ironclad Method. Lindsay arms leaders with a powerful, ironclad brand strategy, so they can grow their business with intention, clarity and focus.