When you first imagined yourself as a business owner, you may have thought about what products you wanted to sell, how to deal with shipping, customer management, etc. Which, honestly, yes, these are important things! But the personal side of the business can often get overlooked if you’re too focused on the practical. People buy from people; they’re more likely to follow a person than a faceless business. Personalizing your brand is not as difficult as it may seem, I promise! Let’s chat about what you can do right now, and what seeds to plant for a long standing future.
What is a brand, and how can you make it your own?
Ok, first you need to know what a brand actually is so you know what you’re dealing with. A literal definition is that a brand is an intangible marketing or business concept that helps people identify a company, product, or individual. Brands are intangible; you can't actually touch or see them, but they help shape people's perceptions of your company and your products.
To be instantly recognizable, you can use things like a distinctive logo, a specific colour scheme, a catch-phrase, or a personalized tone and voice when you speak with your audience. Engaging with your community and your target market will get your brand out there, but aiming to do this in a way that is authentically you will make you stand out from the crowd.
How you craft your voice, look and overall brand ‘feel’ will depend a lot on what kind of brand you want to be.
Deciding on your brand personality.
Depending on what you’re selling, chances are someone else is selling something similar online. So why should a customer buy from you and not your competition? A brand statement can help get your facts straight! You should be able to boil your goals down to some simple statements - what do I sell, why do I sell it, why am I better than the competition.
There are plenty of inspirational guides on what your brand personality can be, but no one can tell you who you are better than you. It’s best to decide on something that is true to your own personality - authenticity is important as it can be a little challenging (and a lot exhausting) to pretend to be someone/something you’re not.
You can break your brand persona into two parts to make things easier to digest: your brand personality is your voice, it is the human aspect of your brand. So it can be funny, encouraging, inspirational, matter-of-fact, etc. Your brand identity is the sum of all your business’s parts and how you will be identified; this can be your logo, your colour-scheme, your voice style, your slogans. All things people can see and instantly recognize you!
Find your tribe
Curating your brand’s voice to fit the tone of your audience will make sure you resonate with the right people. But how do you get the attention of the right people? Finding the right audience to fit your brand can be daunting, but we can break things down into smaller tasks to make it more manageable!
Analytical tools like Facebook Audience Insights or Google Analytics are a great place to start. With these tools, you can dig deeper into who is most likely to buy your products. You can narrow this down by things like age, location, hobbies, relationships, etc and then begin to compile buyer personas: this is a breakdown of who your customer is. While doing your research, you can then begin to mirror your buyer personas in your brand personality. Customers are more likely to purchase from a brand if that brand's personality is similar to their own.
Take a look at our Blog posts here on how to define your audience: this will help you really nail down who your audience is, how they behave/interact with each other online, and who is most likely to buy your products. You can then reflect those behaviours in your brand’s personality, voice and style.
Getting active on social media is a huge step in spreading brand awareness. If you’re not sure where to start, a useful tip is to check out the competition. Have a search for brands similar to yours (in the same product niche too), and see how they interact with their audience. What kind of content do they post? Do they share staged product photoshoots, or do they share candid shots of their lives? Which kinds of posts get the most interactions? Learning from the success of others is a great way to get the creative juices going; after you’ve tested what works and doesn’t work for your personal brand, you can craft your own unique presence online!
Remember that every post you like, comment on, or share leaves little crumbs for your customers to follow so they can find your site. Leaving the crumbs in the right places will get your name out there, and garner interest in your brand.
Be sure to engage authentically within these communities too, as people can spot and call out self-promotion. Add to ongoing conversations rather than interrupt them with links to your site! Seek out communities that your audience are a part of so you can join too. Overall, this will build trust with your customers, and also a long lasting bond with your fellow merchants.
Share your story
One thing to keep in mind when you're deciding how to make a name for your personal brand - people love stories. Sharing the story behind your products, or your journey to take your product to market is always something people love to watch. Brands like PopSockets started as a kickstarter and turned into a hugely successful business over time, all thanks to the participation of its audience.
Storytelling plays a huge part in brand awareness - if you’re telling a story your audience is interested in, they will want to follow you to get involved. Take BlackMilk Clothing for example. This brand has a great relationship with their audience via social media, to the point where users create content for them! Customers will post images of themselves on social platforms wearing their purchases, and then tag the BlackMilk brand. BlackMilk then uses that user-generated content on their Instagram business page as well as directly on their website. A story like this is one you want to be a part of, you want to buy these products so you can join the conversation!
You can tell stories in so many different ways, I’d encourage you to test out a few platforms and see which one speaks to you the most. YouTube offers a series of video tutorials on their Creator Academy site so you can learn to vlog like a pro, you can utilize platforms like TikTok to show off your products/a behind the scenes look at your business. Instagram have recently announced their move to focus more on videos (Reels) more than photos or still images in a bid to compete with platforms like YouTube and TikTok, so now would be a great time to publish Reels on your business’s Instagram page! Instagram will want Reels to be a success, so they will heavily promote any Reels you would post in the coming weeks/months.
If you’re not a fan of videos, you may prefer starting a podcast, or writing blogs for your site. Blogs are great for SEO, and they give you a chance to connect with your audience.
Site Improvements you can make right now
Most topics we’ve gone over so far are pretty research-heavy. They set you up for a successful future so are well worth investing time in, but the payoff from the seeds you plant now can take some time to blossom. Not to worry, there are some practical things you can do right now to get the ball rolling!
Productive Product Pages.
With online stores, there are no sales representatives, so the products need to speak for themselves. Instead of listing your products' specs in a formal description, try writing descriptions that persuade the customer to buy the item. Why do they need this product? How will it make their life better? You have the chance here to make an impact with your products, be sure not to waste it!
There are lots of different ways you can make your product pages work for you, so be sure to check out some expert tips here on the Shopify blog for some inspiration.
Mega Impact with Microcopy.
Microcopy is all the little pieces of text scattered around your online store. It’s what’s written on buttons, text fields, customer account or newsletter sign ups, success or error pages. Personalizing these short but effective texts to reflect your brand can make a huge impact on turning a window-shopper into a buyer. Showing your attention to detail will reassure customers that their money is safe with you, and you will deliver a great buyer experience.
Think of the last time you shopped online yourself - can you remember seeing or reading something on a site that made you laugh unexpectedly, or made you feel safe or supported? That is what you should aim for, providing a feeling that will create a connection. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at this article here on the art of persuasion. You’ll have your site whipped into shape in no time!
The images you use on your site can make or break a sale. If you visited a site and saw blurry images, badly cropped or generic ‘stock’ images, would you trust that site to deliver a high quality product? If the images are not high quality, there is no reason to trust that the products will be either. Be sure to use images that are uniform in dimension and are high in quality.
Creative packages: Think outside the (un)box(ing).
We’ve mainly been focusing on pre-sale actions you can take, but how can you bring your brand personality through even after a sale has been made? Creative packages will make a memorable experience for your customers; an experience they will want to come back for!
‘Unboxing’ or opening up the product package has become a popular way to retain customers. Over 90,000 people type ‘unboxing’ into YouTube every month! Companies like Apple have done a great job at making unboxing a special experience; crisp and clean boxes, high quality images, and even the way the box opens to reveal the product in full view. The packaging feels as expensive and luxurious as the products themselves!
There are some easy to follow steps here to get you started with some ideas, but try to keep your brand personality at the forefront of your mind when making decisions. Are you a brand with fun, bright, and colourful boxes, or are you more sleek and elegant with darker colours? With some things, you really can’t go wrong - use packaging that is easy to recycle, easy to open, add a thank you note and make sure the box size is proportional to the product and customers will have a good experience every time.
Don’t be afraid to show your customers how you pack your orders either! Order packaging videos are a TikTok trend you can hop on to connect with your audience and give them a behind the scenes look at your business.
Growing a brand and making it your own takes time, be sure to enjoy the journey and keep an open mind along the way!