eCommerce Branding vs Physical Branding

This is the second part of a 5-part series on combining digital and print marketing. You can catch up here. You can also get these posts sent right to your inbox, if that’s more your style.

Branding is one of the most misunderstood topics in small to medium-sized businesses.

Marketing managers who went to business school to learn about marketing and the 4 Ps are good at many things. Understanding all the elements that encompass their brand is usually not one of them. They’ll often tell you their brand is the logos, colors, and packaging they use.

That’s like saying a car is a headrest.

Your brand is your story and your promise to your customer all rolled into one. Sure, it manifests itself in color palates and logos, but it’s so much bigger than that. It’s the soul and personality behind your product – and if it’s not clearly defined, your product or service cannot have an authentic personality that elevates it from a commodity.

This post is going to break down the importance of presenting a seamless brand both online and off, how to clarify your branding to encourage brand advocates and loyalists, and more – but first we need to just clear the air about branding in general.

The Basics

What’s your story and what’s your promise to your customers? Answer these first before doing anything else. Take your time, be thoughtful, write it out, come back to it later to edit and polish. This is the foundation of your brand – it needs to be rock-solid.

Now that you have that, you can move on to your customers. If you don’t have personas built, that’s something that cannot wait. Here’s a good guide to create those.

Ok, so now that you have your story, your promise to your customers, and your personas built, your real brand is taking shape. If your colors and logos and packaging doesn’t reflect what you’ve done, fixing that needs to be a top priority. There are plenty of resources that are a Google search away that will help you through this process.

Schizophrenia is a Bad Party Trick

Once you have your brand established, you need to be vigilant about staying true to it on your packaging, social media, online shopping cart, and everywhere else.

If your brand is one person online and someone else entirely in person – it’s going to have trouble making and keeping friends. This may sound insignificant, but it directly affects your ability to reach new customers and keep the ones you have coming back for more. It’s big.

Ok, so how do you check for that?

Think of your brand as a person. When you read your packaging and your website, does it sound like the same person? Do you see the same personality? If it doesn’t, you probably need a brand guide or some rules in place to ensure you follow it. (Here’s a great brand guide resource.)



What makes good branding in packaging?

We’ll go speed round on this:

  • Your packaging should be immediately recognizable as you
  • It has to be clear what you offer and what sets you apart
  • It makes your product look desireable
  • Authentic – don’t try to be something you’re not
  • It’s practical and keeps the product safe
  • Consider your surroundings and make sure you stand out
  • It translates well for your whole line

But this is all pretty general – and your product isn’t general, is it? We have packaging pros ready to give you specific advice. Seriously, they love this stuff. Get specific advice.

What makes good digital branding?

  • It takes advantage of social channels as a place to be it’s most honest and friendly while staying authentic
  • Stay true to your brand guide on every platform, channel, and site that your products appear on – be vigilant
  • Use the right logo in every occasion – that means knowing when to use the PNG, JPEGs, and GIFs (Here’s a cheat sheet)
  • Look for every opportunity to bolster your branding – do you have branded email template(s), are there pages on your site that could be any site, is your Facebook cover photo on brand? (These opportunities are plentiful and valuable, go find them)

This looks like a lot, but once you boil your brand down to its essence and know it like a BFF, it’s so much easier. Once you do that, you can easily spot places where your branding is missing, or worse: being inauthentic.

Next up in our series: Direct Mail + Targeted Ads