In the e-commerce world, sales are entirely web-based or app-based. Your website/app is your hub and sales are driven by online advertising and branding. It’s “No branding, no sales” in the competitive e-commerce space -there’s always another site available for the consumer! How do you create and promote an online brand and how is it different from the traditional?

While the principles of branding are universal, the online world is multi-channel and provides data on customers in a way unheard of in traditional businesses. Connections are rife, with lots of interplay with social media.

Online Branding- Old and New Challenges

The internet provides customers with more information, wide choice, options, and comparisons. Savvy customers hold the power, not the seller. How do you master this new domain and build a bond with customers online? Can old branding strategies adapt to the online world?

The online experience is about getting into the eye line of prospects and then capturing their attention. Much branding and communications is focused around driving “uniques” or “first time” visitors -essentially folks trying the site out. The key requirement from an e-commerce brand creation effort is to build Trust that will make customers actually transact and pay online and then visit again and again. Trust can be gained by creating an unmatched customer experience and making it consistent over time.

Here are some of the E-commerce branding best practices that can help you build a strong brand:


Make sure the product name is unique and impactful. Good tag lines are critical.

See the OYO rooms tagline” Aur Kya Chaiye”. Oyo Rooms disrupted the hotel business in India by providing serviceable rooms, standard features, and brand name recognition at affordable costs. The #AurkyaChahiye campaign of OYO, highlighted that good rooms were available for as low as Rs 999 -what else does a traveler want? The self-booking domestic traveler lapped it up and, as it happens, so did the previously unbranded local hotels and inns that suddenly became part of a mega brand.


Choice of Voice and tone of messaging is very crucial in building a relationship with the buyers. The more human the voice and tone, the better.

Hotstar created a digital entertainment revolution in India. The HotStar app had 2 Million downloads in the first 10 days itself. Today it is the largest provider of entertainment content in India.


Hotstar used tone effectively in its ads. For launching the Game of Thrones content, they had a witty, sarcastic tone that took on the sneaky torrents way of viewing content. They launched with the slogan Torrents Morghulis’ (torrents must die), a smart reference that spoke directly to GoT-fanatics.

Designing Your Digital Display Shelf:

Your website/app must use the appropriate visual elements: design, colour palette consistent with the brand, relevant imagery, and typography that contributes to the branding. Note that far more purchases happen via mobile apps than via websites. The approach, thus, must be “mobile first”.

The quality of the company’s website and app is directly related to the level of trust the buyers will have in the brand.

The more information the site gives about the product the better. The more intuitively it is presented to the buyer the better it is. The easier it is for the buyer to transact, the more likely the transaction will take place.

The buyers must be able to get an almost “touch and feel” like experience on the website. This must be consistent with any offline channels the brand may be exploring. Brand communications and the site itself must reflect the multi-channel nature of the brand and include information from offline campaigns to present a cohesive picture.


User Experience:

Most people will reach your site and product page via a Google search. This suggests branding considerations unique to the online world. The first being to choose a good domain name and clear URL, easily typed out (and now apt for voice search!), and intuitive.

The online buyer worships convenience. This means the brand must ensure smooth transactions, interactive and engaging elements, and provide comprehensive and intuitive search options.

“Branded Content” has a key role to play. Good content creates customer engagement. It creates a story around the brand and its offerings. It presents a compelling reason for the user to buy. Content also drives the search results that bring people to your site/app.

Social and sharing:

Social Media is a force-multiplier for the online retail brand. This is a channel to reach out and connect with the target audience, engage the former customers, and solidify a relationship with the loyal customer. This means the communication on the social channels must also be consistent with the brand messaging and communications across the other online and offline properties.

Social media posts must be engaging and impactful, with high-quality images and succinct messaging. This content has the potential to “go viral” -so creating content that is inherently shareable because it fits with the values the buyers share with the brand is key.


The beverages brand Paper Boat was known for home-made juices. The product had an association with childhood memories. Paper Boat used an innovative way to drive content and engagement in one sweet mix. They asked their audience to share their childhood stories on social media. The Facebook page of Paper Boat is a delight and replete with users’ comments.

The Big Question:

In a branding world made more complex by the emergence of the online store, a natural question for Brand Managers is how to maintain consistency across all these channels? Especially in an environment when any social missteps can explode into the public consciousness? The answer is to ensure that all branding, communications, and indeed, all other activities be driven by the core values, the Purpose, that is at the heart of the brand. If this is the touchstone by which the aptness of all decisions is measured, then not only is consistency sure to follow but the relationships formed with the target audience will also be more authentic and longer-lasting.


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