Branding

Brand Foundation: How to Build a Brand from Scratch in 2021

If you have made it to this far, you possibly have the idea of how commodity has been affecting your business off late. Welcome to another episode of Commodity vs Brand campaign where we explore the tactical difference between commodity and brand and how you can use branding to build your business foundation.

Are you someone trying to build your brand from scratch? Then this blog is the right place you need to be.

This blog is all you need to know about brand foundation and how you can do it to stay ahead of your competitors in the market.

Table of Contents

What is a Brand?

The term brand refers to a business and marketing concept that helps people identify a particular company, product or individual.There are roughly millions of e-commerce brands in the world and though we do not have any accurate data to put a pin on the debate, what we do know is the fact that close to 2 billion people are shifting to online purchase with every new year passing by. 

what is branding

So now you know you do have your chances of finding your target audience in this large pool of potential customers.

But here’s the catch, half or more than half of these ecommerce brands are just market businesses and not an actual ‘brand’.

And not many realize it in the first place unless their conversion rate takes a huge hit.

Brand is not built in 3 month. It builds over a period of time by communicating what you stand for.

What Brand Stands For?

Picture this, you listen to a song on your radio and that rings you a bell of any particular memory you are fond of.

This is exactly what a brand does, triggers you of an emotional connection every time you see, listen or get something from these brands.

Brand and branding are two entirely different concepts, while the former is the end destination, the latter is more about the journey of moulding the customer’s virtual perception of your brand, product and services.

In simpler terms, it is how you want your customers to remember you for. It’s easier said than done with millions of competitors selling almost exactly the same as yours.

I admit it, not every business can stand out like Ferrari.

But you don’t have to be the Ferrari but be a better version of your business and be the first of its kind. All you have to do is find a way to connect with your customer emotionally.

Now getting back to branding, it’s about the process of drafting strategic plans to craft a virtual representation of your brand that people should carry in their mind and heart.

Before we dig any deeper into how to get started with it, let’s take a quick trip down the important benefits of a brand.

Importance of Brand

  1. Makes you a key different player

What’s otherwise a saturated market suddenly turns out to be a potential market to sell in hot numbers if your business is turned into a brand.

Many of the top ecommerce brands today have seen a sudden spike in their revenue everytime they roll out an inspirational story/emotional related campaign.

  1. Name a price

With a brand, you can name a price for your products (although not double the market price).

Many times, you ought to charge less than what your products are worth, but once you get more clients and once your business is transformed into a brand, you can increase the price of your service/product.

  1. Take home credibility

One of the important aspects of branding is how easy it turns out to be to bask in the credibility bandwagon. This will make you the best seller in the market and also possibly the most sought after brands for what you sell.

  1. Builds your loyalty game

Brand and loyalty goes pretty well together. Brands like McDonalds and Apple have a long history of loyal customer base that never tends to go down with time.

This is largely because of the memories and moments they tend to associate with the brand.

Be it taking a bite from the Big Mac with their favourite person or the nostalgic chills hitting you when you held the first ever smartphone in your hands.

Feeling it right?

  1. Grow your family

Brand plays it really well when we talk about returning customers. And not just that with every repeated customer you also get an upperhand of receiving more referrals from them.

This is a great way to build your social network for good business growth.

What is Brand Positioning?

Brand positioning in simpler terms is about how you tactically place your brand elements while presenting yourself to the customers

Kotler defines the brand positioning as “the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”

The key idea is to make your brand stand out from the competitors and how it carves a place in the mind of people.

By crafting the perfect brand positioning, you get to increase your customer base, loyalty and credibility.

So how exactly can you do the perfect brand positioning?

Here are 3 simple ways to get started with them:

       Know what your customer is looking for

       Now jot down your brand’s capabilities in meeting the customer’s needs

       Keep a close eye on how competitors position their brands

Do plenty of research and time as these are the stepping stones for a bigger picture, once you are sure of who you are and what your competitors are doing, you get to move up the ladder.

Which brings us to the brand statement.

So before you frame your brand statement, make sure it’s simple.using complicated terms might make you look really cool, but then you will probably lose the ‘connection’ game.

So here are 3 ways you can do them:

  1. Will reflect your consumers ideas
  2. Can be promised and delivered by your company (capabilities)
  3. Different from your competitors.

So the last step is perhaps the one with less research needed, implement these on your brand sites, email copies, ad copies, product page and literally everything that has your brand written on it.

Point of Difference

A Real brand stands out from the crowd when it narrows down the list of differences it sports over their competitors.

While making a buying decision, it is really important to give your customers a competitive advantage to buy from your brand.

A Strong point of difference makes your brand stronger. For example, if you are running an ecommerce clothing store, the point of difference can be framed around quicker delivery options, buy now, pay later or even try and pay later options as well.

These make you sell your products based on the values rather than price. Markets tend to differentiate between brands by introducing new features and tactics.

For example, considering the smartphone era, one brand introduced the full display feature as an industry first while this one used to be a point of difference during the initial stage, now almost all the phones rolling out from factories come with a full display.

Your customers should have a favorable perception of your business so identifying a point of difference can be vital to achieving that outcome. Some areas of difference you might consider include:

     Customer service.

     Convenience.

     Specific benefits of your product or service.

     Your business story.

     Variety.

     Price.

Point of Parity

These are the unique essentials set by the consumers while they look for a product in the market. For example the full display now becomes a point of parity since it’s a common essential and criteria a consumer looks for in a brand.

The only setback of Point of parity is they tend to change much faster with time, newer updates and consumer’s psychology

Points-of-parity (POPs) are attribute or benefit associations that are not necessarily unique to the brand but may in fact be shared with other brands.8 These types of associations come in three basic forms: category, correlational, and competitive.

Category points-of-parity are attributes or benefits that consumers view as essential to a legitimate and credible offering within a certain category, although not necessarily sufficient conditions for brand choice.

Correlational points-of-parity are potentially negative associations that arise from the existence of positive associations for the brand.

 Competitive points-of-parity are associations designed to overcome perceived weaknesses of the brand in light of competitors’ points-of-difference. 

What is Brand Vision?

Brand vision refers to the set of ideas behind a brand that specifically sets a path for the business’s future growth and goals.

A brand’s vision to define its purpose to its customer and how it aims to deliver the result.

So what are the basic three components  of building a great brand vision?

  1. Brand values
  2. Brand future
  3. Brand purpose

A brand value clearly defines what your brand has compiled as a set of values. Your business should adhere to these set of values at all costs.

A brand future defines the future possibilities for your brand. This involves a detailed forecast of what the future holds for your brand and how you can architect a better outcome.

Brand’s with a refined purpose have a competitive advantage over your competitors who don’t have one. Purpose driven brands intend to serve customers with the highest quality of values.

What is Brand Promise

Brand promise is a statement formed by the business organization stating to the customers what they can expect from your brand.

Brand promises highlight the uniqueness of a business and their mission. A typical brand promise statement will deliver the message clearly to the customers.

It helps to differentiate one brand from another. A brand promise statement comprises three important elements. They are

  1. Benefits
  2. Values
  3. Experience 

What is Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy is a marketing strategy where a business ventures into a market which is less or never explored creating their own space of marketing demand. 

This is more like moving away gradually from the competitive market.

Technically this theory gives the brands a solid competitive advantage and less price pressure point. The point is simple, identify a new market segment and then launch your product to the relatively new audience to gain the initial momentum.

It’s more about creating new demand for your product and less about capturing the competitive market.

It will help in reducing the value-cost-trade-off as well as helps in creating an uncontested market place for you to explore and take the reins.

There are only two ways you can create a blue ocean strategy.

Launch New Product

The first one is obviously by launching a new product or service. One of the prime examples is Netflix where they started off the OTT trends when people were watching movies illegally from other websites.

Netflix revolutionized the entertainment market back in 2007 when they started allowing the subscribers to stream movies directly to the comfort of their homes.

 Even though there are many similar OTT platforms available, Netflix unarguably keeps the throne thanks to its legacy and competitive advantage.

Uncontested Market Place

The second option is to develop an uncontested market place where the brand explores ways to transform its business from one bubble to something else that could work for them.

Amazon is perhaps the best way to explain how this method works.

Technically Amazon was launched as a booking selling platform but over time they evolved from a mere online book selling site to a much grandeur platform where customers can shop anything they want.

You name it, Amazon has it.

The idea is to transform the business to a new genre when the existing market is taking a hit. This is more like a survival theory and the one that doesn’t comply with it will definitely see the downfall.

For example consider the blackberry, the once popular tech giant is now nowhere to be seen thanks to their lackluster way of updating to the tech savvy world.

Designing Key Brand Elements

Plenty of the branding journey is all about strategic planning and drawing board discussions but what exactly gives soul to your ideas are visual elements.

There are loads of branding elements to consider while designing your brand elements, but I got it all filtered for you with some primary elements you need to consider while designing your brand outlook.

1.Logo

Nothing ever starts good without a visual representation of your brand. To set yourself out from the competitors.This is arguably one of the most important assets in your brand.

It is a vital symbol and representation of your brand. While designing it, make sure it reflects your brand’s vision and it doesn’t resemble any other ecommerce brand.

It’s not relatively new for brands to change their logo mid way, consider Mahindra who changed their decade old logo with a new and refurbished one.

The new logo seems to have struck gold as the netizens have come out in applause for the way it looks and the logo has upped the premium factor of the brand.

Notice how a simple logo changed the game for the car giants.

 

2.Website

Okay, no denying that ad copies are important, but you design the site upfront as this turns out to be the host for all other points of communication.

Be it email copies, Google ads or Facebook ads, they all get redirected to your home site.

This is not only about branding but also how your online presence will aesthetically look like to your potential customers.

Also don’t put a block on the budget, invest a good sum and a great team to design your site as this is a long term investment and also possibly your warehouse to get more leads.

Start with a prominent header banner with a clear background image (lifestyle image suits better for clothing and home appliances) with your brand statement and call to action.

Other basic brand elements on your site include adding testimonials to increase credibility and brand loyalty, trust badges, lifestyle images, Q&A section and about us with a gripping backend story to capitalize on the emotional factor.

3.Brand Name

Your brand name should embody who you are. Interesting part is that some of the brand names eventually become the name of the products.

Consider Q-Tips, the brand is now world popular for the products they sell.

But before you get all excited, make sure the brand name is available on the domain platform. You can possibly brainstorm and test with different sets of names. 

       Types of brand

       Blue ocean strategy

       Conclusion

 4.Brand Colour

After you have narrowed down the website design, brand name and logo, move step ahead with choosing the right color theme for your brand. This theme is a reflection of what your brand stands for as each colour has a unique meaning and purpose to it.

The brand colour is what strikes the consumer’s mind upfront on hearing your name. Brand colour goes a long way in emotionally persuading the customers to buy your products as this is a part of colour psychology.

Let’s take a look at some of the popular sought after brand colour and what they stand for

Red – Excitement, attention grabbing, fresh in the market

Blue – calm tone, peace, trust

 5.Typography

Typography is basically the fonts you prefer to use for your brand. Make sure the font you chose is readable and has a strong sense of your brand’s essence to it.

A quality advice is to go for less than three fonts for your site as customers tend to associate with the brand font. More the fonts, less the engagement.

Types of Brand

Now that we have seen what a brand is and how you can turn your commodity driven one into a complete brand, you should shift your focus now to the types of branding.

This is one of the most cardinal elements in the branding journey as this allows you to form the framework over which the entire brand is built.

These branding strategies are categorised based on their purpose, meaning and the way they are done.

There are many types of branding depending upon the purpose, but let’s take a look at the top 2 types of branding most businesses resort to.

1.Personal Branding – Need Infographic

Personal branding as the name suggests is more about presenting yourself to the audience that will reflect directly on the sales of your brand. Personal branding is all about how people perceive you and one of the best ways to do this is to promote yourself on social media platforms.

Many popular celebrities are prime examples for a solid personal branding strategy like Cristiano Ronaldo, David Bechkam, Kylie Jenner and Hritik Roshan. 

Ronaldo has loads of personal brands under his belt and he is seen actively promoting them and also himself on the social media platform.

This plays a huge role psychologically as the followers are more emotionally attached to their favorite persons which will likely nudge them to buy what their stars are promoting.

David Bechkam has always been the cool lad on and off the field and it’s quite evident with the new shades line he is seen promoting it on his Instagram handle.

He has evolved with current trends and can be seen sporting trendy shades and clothing essentials from his own clothing line.

2.Product Branding – Need Infographic

Who doesn’t love Nike Jordans? Air Jordans are easily one of the table toppers for Nike ever since it was launched by the iconic basketball player Michael Jordan himself in Chicago amidst a glittery event.

Designed exclusively by Peter Moore for Jordan during his successful outings with Chicago Bulls in 1984, the shoes soon grabbed the attention for their funky choice of colors and new in town looks. 

This prompted Nike to pay tribute to the legend by launching the very own Air Jordan series. The premium brand includes a line of shoes and other basic essentials.

The ultimate goal of product branding is to make a specific product stand tall in the market and miles away from the competitors.

 The real journey of building a brand is what branding stands for. From choosing the slogan to the color pallete, place your strategy right to drive the brand from commodity drive one.

Watch this space next Friday as we bid farewell to this Commodity vs Brand with a last blog on Branding strategy.

Commodity to Brand

Commodity vs Brand: Learn How Commodity Affects Your Ecommerce Sales in 2021

Commodity vs Brand: Learn How Commodity Affects Your Ecommerce Sales in 2021

The Ecommerce market has been narrowing down their sales figures to competitive numbers and so is the market tension amidst the customers. According to 2021 stats,the average conversion rate for an Ecommerce site stands at just under 1%. 

This comes after all the months of hard work of designing your site from launching your dream products. This is really important as the global commerce sales has hit $3.46 trillion dollars worldwide. 

If you’re facing lackluster numbers, it’s high time you know what is commodity vs brand and how it has been affecting your business without giving you a hint.

What's Inside

What is commodity 


Gone are the days when marketers had to club commodities and brand into one strategic piece to drive sales. Off late, they have been drawing a solid line between the boundaries of commodity and brand. 

So what exactly are these and why do we need to understand the difference between them?

To put in simpler terms, Commodity is a product in the market which can be easily replaced by its competitors. 

The product does not have any special value to the customers and hence it sits in a same pool of similar product ranges thus increasing the chances of being unsold.

What is Brand

Brand on the other hand is creating a niche for yourself and the product in a cutthroat marketing environment. 

Surviving here is quite easy even with your tried and tested products. This is more about customer loyalty and their emotional connection with your brand.

Considering the emotional factor, according to the Renderforest, close to a staggering 65% of people form an unbreakable emotional bond with a brand. 

Some of the popular brands to have mastered the arts of branding are Nike, Apple where they have moulded their years of experience, customer relation and woven them into an emotional rapport with their extended customer family globally

Not so surprisingly Nike makes around 44k USD Millions every year, thanks to their exceptionally well crafted products that brings out the state of the art design features and well obviously their brand tactics.

Now considering the commodity bracket, there are over thousands of ecommerce businesses roughly making the same products as that of Nike (Minus the flawless design and superior premium quality) and yet find themselves with poor sales. 

And why is that?

Their failure at drafting a perfect branding strategy and their brand as a whole which failed to ignite a healthier relationship with the customers. 

Metrics That Proves How Commodity Affects Your Business

Now you know what branding is and how it helps build a business empire but got clues on when you start to focus on drifting from commodity to a brand?

Take a look at these stats and if any of these numbers ring a bell to you, then you are at the perfect phase to start initiating the big move.

Commodity to Brand
Commodity to Brand

Bounce rate more than 70%

No/Very Less Engagement on Ads

Conversation rate is less than 1%

Less Dwell Time

Difference between Brand & Commodity

As said earlier, a commodity is a mere product in the market with no specific connection with any customers. While a brand is built upon the loyalty, trust and emotional support of the loyal customer base.

It all boils down to how one perceives the product. For example take a look at the simple black t-shirt, this is a commodity now.

Commodity to Brand

30 Dollars

10 Dollars

30 Dollars 10 Dollars

This will continue to be a commodity until you slap an Adidas logo on it and now that’s part of the brand loved by millions.

Now did you actually feel what the logo does to your thought process as a customer? Now it doesn’t just take any logo to create that kind of virtual impact. 

In fact it took Adidas decades of running stories driven campaigns, stirring the emotional quotient in customers and finally carrying on the built legacy through all these years.

You need to jot down the points of differentiation from your competitors if you want to move towards making your commodity a part of your brand. 

Start by creating a brand identity first before you start advertising a conversion oriented approach for your products.

Commodity to Brand

This will further enhance the customer experience with your product and will most likely create an ally with your brand in the longer run.

1. Focus on Emotion rather than pricing

This is plain simple, all top brands focus on the connection rather than the pricing. 

You can get any other smartphone (spectacular one) for half of what you actually pay for an Apple product but yet you get to see thousands of customers flocking the doors of an Apple store during the launch of their products around the month of september.

So why would customers be willing to pay a hefty sum of money for just a smartphone? Because Apple has symbolised their phones as a non- replaceable commodity in the tech market. 

Commodity to Brand

It’s the unrivalled connection you experience from the moment you see the apple logo. The way they have advertised privacy over anything and bringing a luxury quotient into their phones have all contributed to their epitome of customer loyalty.

But their competitors are so focussed on the competitive pricing that they fall miles behind running pointlessly towards building a smartphone that’s going to be easily replaced by a better one in near future.

So how exactly can you master this art just like these brands?

Focus on how you want the customers to feel

Instead of outright pushing the products to your customers, try to understand the customer’s pain points and then center your product around the customer needs and thus enrich their experience with your product.

Personalize your business

It’s about time you stop running towards achieving your month target with a sales oriented approach. 

Personalize your business outlook, ad copies to create a sense of connection, a personalized one with your customer base.

Focus on the differentiations

Give them a solid reason to choose your products over to others in the market. All the time customers are left to choose based on the pricing even which at certain points feels the same. 

Instead of pricing, sell on what your product offers, what it promises to deliver. Now you are giving a solid reason to choose your products in the ecommerce market.

2. Visible and Invisible factors

To set matters straight, brands are visible and commodities are invisible. In order to create a connection, brands need to focus on visibility, size and equity. 

The ultimate goal is to shift your focus to the long term goal rather than the short term outcome. With the size comes visibility and you can sustain this for a longer run too.

Brand equity is as important as visibility and size. This can help you license your brand name and their products. 

Commodity to Brand

Almost all top brands have built their equity by allowing others to use their product name on something that does not even resemble the parent company in any ways.

So here are some quick tips for making your brand more visible.

·         Focus on creating a referral system.

·         Build your network on social media channels

·         Create a visual identity for your brand from the logo to the site

3. Focus on building value for what you offer

Stand out from the crowd, from your niche market and definitely miles away from your competitors.

Make your customer value what you have to offer more than a similar product they can get from a competitor.

This is how successful brands hold their market. Focus on what you promise to deliver on a long term rather than investing your time on a short term goal. 

But building a brand identity takes much more than an overnight drawing broad strategy.

Commodity to Brand

Amazon has been a successful giant not just because it was just a book selling store, instead it focused on other goods and services. As a matter of what Amazon is looking to enter into more ventures as you read this.

Listed below are a few ways you can start building your brand promise.

·         Understand your target audience and their pain points

·         Start positioning your product as a solution to your customer’s problem

·         Be consistent in delivering your promises to the audience

Key Ingredients To Create Valuable Brand

The difference between a normal brand and commodity driven one is enormous. Commodity products are there in the market with very little differentiation. 

In other words they can be replaced by another product in a snap. This often leads to customers choosing the products based on the lowest pricing.

So there are 3 key ingredients to start building your brand.

·         Different- what’s the point of difference between your brand and your competition

·         Salient- How well do you know and trust the brand

·         Meaningful- How meaningful is your brand to our lives?

Being Different

Ask yourself, how different is your brand and how it is perceived by your customer? The point of difference between your brand and your competition is what sets you out from the rest. Close to 90% of the purchases are made subconsciously.

Commodity to Brand

So why exactly are we talking about the subconscious factor here? Because the point of difference will affect the behaviour pattern of a customer.

For being different in your product positioning, start with focussing on delivering what you promise to offer in the first place. 

Center it around your consumer from product pricing to the brand value positioning.

Being Salient

How well a customer knows your brand inside out and trusts it wholeheartedly is much more important than the point of difference. Apple charges a whopping amount for a new phone that’s yet to be reviewed by many.

Commodity to Brand

What Apple does here is the idea of making customer trust in your brand, products and services. Apple products are known for their exceptional features, unparalleled quality and for sure the unmatchable design language.

Being Meaningful

One of the prominent handles of the 3 key ingredients is how meaningful is your brand to the customers. 

How well does your product stand for a purpose? How does it enrich the consumers’ lives? These are the questions you need to answer yourself before you start jotting down the meaning.

Commodity to Brand

Starbucks has 32,660 stores worldwide in 2020

Starbucks has been revolutionizing the caffeine fix since decades. Perhaps you must have figured out one can’t obviously sell expensive coffees just with a logo. 

What Starbucks did here is to give a meaning to the consumers that made their product the go-to coffee in their city.

Not so surprisingly Starbucks is one of the longest and fastest growing caffeine networks in the US and around the world.

Quick Ways to Turn Commodity into Brand

You know when to start turning your commodity into a brand, but do you know how to start initiating the process?

Here’s a list of quick ways you can turn your business into a premium brand.

1.Brand communication: Radiate your brand communication throughout the site. Be it the color, main communication or what you promise to deliver, paint your site with all these essentials to make it look as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

2.Unequalled service: Provide the best superior services to your customers. This is the first step in differentiating yourself from the pool of possible competitors.

3.Brand Keyword: Identify a specific word for your brand that defines your business goal, personality, traits and way of working. Keep that word as a primary communication in all mediums.

4.Master one category: Instead of going all guns blazing, choose one specific category and specialize in growing your brand in that particular category initially.

5.Blue Ocean Strategy: You can create your brand awareness by using the popular blue ocean strategy where you can create a new market segment and demand after which you grow your business by selling specific products to the segment audience.

You can also have a quick look at the add-ons you need to consider.

1.Focus on product packaging. Your product packaging defines the outlook of your brand, it reflects how the customers perceive your brand. So make it premium with proper brand logos and theme colors.

2.Quick services are what customers look for now. No one likes to wait, be it a customer waiting for a query response from your end or waiting for a product to be delivered, make sure the customer gets it with a whisk.

3.Provide warranty or guarantee. One aspect that many brands overlook is backing the products with warranty claims. This does not only boost your sales but also increases the product’s liability and customer’s loyalty.

4.Using customer testimonials can help define a brand in the niche market. A good word of mouth can result in enormous business growth as a business and more as a brand too. This will further fortify the trust factor for your brand.

 Conclusion

I’m as excited as you are for the commodity vs brand series where we explore the best of two worlds and possibly side towards the brand for better business growth. 

Many of the above observations are backed with solid data and experiences of helping many businesses build their own brand.

Stay tuned for more amazing contents on this commodity vs brand series as I will be rolling out new interesting follow up contents every Friday. Watch this space for more