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Building a brand – Part 1

Name 5 brands. Got them? Now run through your list again, and we bet that at least one of your five is a retailer. If this retailer is so recognizable as to actually make your list, then perhaps they already sell a portion of their inventory in their own name. Nevertheless, their basic nature is to sell a multitude of products from many different brands under one roof and to promote themselves widely.

Why is this so interesting? Well, if you are a retailer, no matter how small your business truly is in comparison to the big guys in your sector, then you are responsible for a brand, and with it, the tools to truly differentiate your business from the growing number of competing start ups in the online retail world.

Now let’s play another game. Pick two nationally recognizable retailers in your country that sell the same products. Got them? Now without thinking about it, decide which one you would prefer to shop with. With your decision made, you have the answer to the question but also a clear insight into branding. Why did you choose one over the other? Because without doubt, you did make a choice, and understanding that choice and relating it to your business is crucial in determining the strengths and weaknesses of your brand.

Break out the pens and paper

Close your laptop lid, pull out the power cord to the computer, and break out the pens and pencils, you need some thinking time. To truly know your business and to understand how it can succeed against the competition, you need a clarity of thought that can only come from a lack of distractions; and as a retailer, you always have something to distract you.

On paper, write down a list of unbiased observations about your business. Don’t gloss over anything, and don’t leave any stone unturned, this is a time for truth, not marketing spin. Once you are finished, you will have a list of positive and negative points, an example of which could be:

  • We discount too much
  • Our logo is really great
  • We don’t stock anything you couldn’t find elsewhere
  • We answer emails really fast, but sometimes don’t go the extra mile
  • Our customer base has grown over the past 6 months
  • We worry a lot more than we’d like to admit about cash flow
  • We never have enough time for email marketing
  • What the hell do we do with social media? (Don’t worry, more businesses than you would believe are thinking the same thing)

You get the picture.

Ok, work time is over, go away and do something else and make sure to relax. Rest assured though, your brain will be carefully considering every point you just wrote down, and when you next come back to the list, and we post Part 2 of Building an eCommerce Brand next week, you will be ready to take action.

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