So, you’ve started your ecommerce business – and now you’re after sales! What’s the best way to boost your engagement and revenue? A clear brand position. Without getting this critical element - really, the very foundation of your offering - in place, you’ll struggle to see the results that you deserve.
Want to know more about positioning your brand? Read on for five of our most helpful tips and tricks.
What is brand position?
Let’s start with the basics – what, exactly, do we mean by brand position? Within the context of ecommerce, brand positioning refers to the way in which you present your brand to the world. Everything from the visual representation of your brand, through to the way you talk to your customers and the price point that you choose to sell at – all of this amounts to your brand position. Essentially, it’s the impression that you consciously set out to make upon the world.
Why is positioning your brand so important?
When we buy from a brand, it’s usually as the result of feeling some kind of connection. The products or services that they offer resonate with us, either fulfilling a need that we have, or dovetailing perfectly into our lifestyle.
Brand positioning acts as a beacon to your ideal target audience. By clearly defining who you are and what you stand for, you’re in a much better position to send a clearer message. This means that all of your communications - both direct and indirect - can be consistent and extra effective.
Clearer, better targeted messaging means better return on your marketing spend. You’ll also find that the process of deciding how and what to communicate to your audience is easier once your brand position has been firmly established. This saves you a lot of time and head scratching.
Why is it especially important for sustainable brands to have clear positioning?
If you’re a brand working within the sustainable or ethical space, then no matter what it is that you’re selling, you’ll find that clear positioning is a massive help. When you’ve built an ecommerce business around these kinds of ethics and values, it’s all too easy to assume that this element of your brand constitutes your whole position. Don’t fall into this trap!
Yes - being a sustainable and ethical brand may be a core (even defining) feature of your positioning, but if this is where your strategy starts and ends, you’re missing out on a lot of extra nuances that could be selling you to a much more clearly defined audience.
The market for conscious consumerism is growing. Today’s ethical shopper cannot be easily defined, spanning the traditional generational segments, budgets and demographics. If you’re simply setting out your stall to sell to anyone who cares about the planet, you’ll find you’re up against a lot of competition.
As the ethical retail space becomes more crowded and competitive, brand positioning is an essential necessity for brands. It’s not enough to make sustainable practices your whole business personality – you need to be showing more specificity when it comes to attracting an audience. Are you gunning for a younger crowd? The style-obsessed? City types? By getting clarity here and adjusting your positioning based on these decisions, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to cut through the ever-increasing noise of the sustainable space.
5 Tips For Better Brand Positioning
Irrespective of your vertical, here are our five top tips to ensure your brand positioning is spot on. Work your way through the list, thinking about how many of these boxes your own business has consciously considered and actively ticked off.
1. Define your audience
This is the bedrock of brand positioning. Without knowing who you’re selling to, you can’t create a strong position from which to make your offer. When thinking about your audience, it’s important to consider a few factors. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Are you selling to a specific gender?
Do you want to target a particular age range?
What stage of life are your audience in - do they have young families, are they homeowners?
Where is your ideal customer spending their time - and their money?
What methods of shopping do they enjoy, which channels should you be active on?
How do your customers learn about new things? Where do they go for information?
What entertains your ideal audience?
What’s driving their desire to make a purchase from you?
What problems are you helping them to solve?
What are the common frustrations that they might experience in their day to day life?
What’s keeping them awake at night?
Many brands sell to more than one ideal customer, and if this sounds like you, then personas might be a helpful addition to your brand strategy. Creating clearly defined customer archetypes can be a brilliant way to ensure you consistently attract your ideal customers.
Just don’t fall into the trap of deciding that you sell to everyone. In theory, yes - ecommerce makes this possible - and wouldn’t it be lovely? But in practice, you’ll find yourself overreaching and rudderless.
2. Find Your Why
Now that you’ve defined your audience, it’s time to pinpoint exactly what you’re offering to them. When we talk about “finding your why” as a business, we’re looking for the reason you probably got started in the first instance.
Here are some prompts to get you thinking about what’s lighting a fire under your brand, powering your motivation and drive to succeed?
What prompted you to set up your online retail brand?
What issues do you care about? What problem are you solving?
Who are you trying to help?
What established industry norms are you looking to challenge?
What are you doing differently when it comes to the competition?
Having a clearly defined “why” is an essential part of your positioning. Think of this as your “flag in the sand” – a defining point around which you and your business can rally. It should feel inspiring and challenging all at the same time.
By establishing clarity with regard to your purpose, you can make sure your passion and drive has a focus and remains effective and powerful (as opposed to a bit overwhelming!)
Think about the ways your purpose and values are communicated - as this goes well beyond messaging, and deep into the core of your business structure. Increasingly, shoppers expect brands to act in a way that fully aligns with their advertised stance on issues.
Profit-sharing schemes, the way you treat your staff, diversity within your stakeholders, the roots of your supply chain, donations on purchase, your hiring strategies - there are so many ways that your values can be communicated as a part of your brand positioning.
3. Brand Voice
Once you know who you’re talking to, and what you want to say to them, it’s time to decide exactly how you say it. This might sound like something you don’t need to spend a lot of time considering, but brand voice is an increasingly important (and often overlooked) element of your positioning - undervalue it at your peril!
When we talk about brand voice, we’re referring to the way that you communicate across all channels and platforms. From advertising and onboarding email flows through to recruitment messaging and product packaging copy. In every single instance of written or spoken communication, you should be ensuring that the way your brand communicates is clear, familiar and most importantly, truly considered.
When defining the way your brand speaks and sounds, there are two key factors to consider: tone and voice.
Voice: what your brand says.
Tone: the way your brand says it.
First, consider your voice. Are you informative, inspirational, aspirational? Quite literally what is your brand here to tell people? Next, consider tone – are you looking to come across as playful, friendly, cool? Having a bit of certainty here will really help you to cement and apply your brand position with confidence.
4. Get Relative
Let’s consider the term brand position. Position is relative. You need some point of reference in order to be able to pinpoint exactly where your own brand is placed. What does this mean practically, as you figure out your place in the market? Know thine competition.
Go out there and assess the key players in the same space. Get nerdy and get nosy. Take notes on who they seem to be targeting, where they show up and how they present themselves. How similar are your ideal customers? By looking for your overlap and your differences, you can quickly identify if your position is unique enough, or whether it looks like you’re actually going head to head.
Here are some ideas for areas to compare and contrast. By working through this list (and considering any other relevant factors that may crop up!) you can quickly start to work out the spaces in which you can excel.
5. Keep It Consistent
Finally – after putting all of this effort into defining your brand position, make sure you apply it, everywhere that your brand shows up! Brand positioning is incredibly helpful, but it's only as effective as your implementation strategy, so be sure to be consistent and methodical when applying it.
Brand positioning comes into play whenever you:
Launch a new product
Write an email flow
Deal with customer feedback
Develop a marketing campaign
Consider new sales channels
… essentially, any decisive, active move for your business that helps move you forward should have clear positioning applied. Get into the habit of automatically thinking in these terms to fully benefit from the excellent groundwork you’ve laid and you can’t go far wrong!
If you're looking to launch an eco-focused brand and would like to bounce ideas off some experienced, like-minded retailers, why not join one of the MindfulCommerce online Meetups? They offer the opportunity to get free, friendly feedback from supportive peers, twice a month!