Often design and branding is overlooked when starting a new online business, but today more than ever it’s crucial to distinguish yourself from your many competitors if you want to stand out from the crowd and succeed. This article will take you through a Shopify store branding checklist, which if followed diligently, will put your business on the right design and branding track.
What is branding and why is it important?
Take a look inside a physical store or search for a specific product or service online and you’ll notice that there are multiple companies selling any one product.
The product they’re selling is roughly the same, often identical, but how they all sell it is quite a different story.
Think a little bit about the products and services you typically consume.
Why do you buy a specific brand and not others? Why are you willing to spend more money buying Brand A instead of Brand B? Why do you feel that some products are better overall compared to others?
The answers to these questions are closely related to a buyer’s emotions, expectations, perceptions, needs, desires and even their relationship with each product as a customer.
Businesses can tap into these psychological buying triggers using the power of branding.
Branding can be never be underestimated. It conveys so many messages to the buyer, in often so little time.
If you’re just getting started with the look and feel of your Shopify store design and want it to be perceived in a particular way, then this is essentially what branding is.
Competition in the ecommerce world is fierce, and increasing all the time, so the differentiation of your products or services from similar ones offered by your competitors is extremely important.
Differentiation and perception are achieved by choosing your store’s unique name, slogan, logo, color scheme, fonts, images and symbols.
It’s about thinking how your brand interacts with your customer’s expectations, fulfilling both their objective and their subjective needs, when the product is first seen, through the experience of purchasing it, and finally using and/or consuming it.
If your company was a person, then all your branding assets are equivalent to building an identity and personality, and making that personality appeal to particular people.
It is therefore easy to understand why companies pour thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars in branding and associated strategies to increase their brand power, presence, sustainability and reach.
Branding helps you stand out in the market, it gives influence and credibility to your business, increases the value of your products and services, fosters customer loyalty, and provides you with the power and confidence to make certain decisions about your company.
Read this article to the very end to understand what design and branding is, how they work hand in hand and the 7 steps to take to maximize their impact.
The 7 steps required to create a solid Shopify branding
Step 1 – Make a Statement
You know what you’re selling, so you’ve got that part covered. However, that alone doesn’t tell people a lot about you.
According to Simon Sinek’s presentation The Golden Circle, your first focus should be the “why” you’re selling what you’re selling.
This statement will allow people to connect with your brand and believe the business you’re operating is a genuine one with the customer’s best interest at heart.
Why are you passionate about selling this product or providing this service? How is it going to potentially help your customer?
After you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to focus on “how” you sell it. What makes your product different from your competitors? What are you offering that they are not? How will it make the customer feel better or can it solve a particular problem or improve someone’s situation?
These questions will bring you finally to “what” you’re selling. Once you get a good idea of your why, how and what, you should be ready for the next steps.
A good idea is to have and always remember your positioning or mission statement. This is a statement that should always include your unique value proposition.
Safe Scooters: “We sell quality and affordable mobility scooters for the elderly and handicapped. Our unique feature is that all scooters have passed a 10-point safety test.”
Step 2 – Get to know your customers and your competitors
If you’re just starting your online business on Shopify, you may not have the resources to reach a large number of people.
You have to narrow down your target audience as much as possible, so you can deliver a relevant message.
The more relevant the message delivered to the right people, the better the results.
Think about their age, gender, location, income and education level. Remember to be specific and target particular niches.
“Young adults” is too broad a target when compared with “tech-savvy college graduates working in management”.
Getting to know your competitors and being inspired by their strategies is easier, as most of their information is visible online.
Before you start researching, remember that the intention is not to copy what the competition is doing. You’re simply searching for inspiration, and ultimately doing everything better than them.
Study successful brands in your industry. Understand how they evolved over time, what kinds of strategies they used, take a look at their name, logo, slogan, color scheme, fonts. How do they all come together?
Then, look at their products and services. Are they offering high-quality products or something lower than that? What are customers saying about those products? Lastly, how do your competitors market their brand? How and where do they advertise? Do they utilize influencers?
Once you answer all these questions, you’ll have enough information to make wise decisions about your own brand and what approach to take.
Step 3 – Choose an appropriate and catchy business name
Picking your company name is often the most difficult choice you will make, as it is most likely the one thing that won’t change over time.
Your company name will also greatly influence other aspects of your branding such as logo style, slogans, colors and even the tone that you use to communicate with your customers.
You need a unique business name that will set your business apart from the competition.
Take your time to brainstorm different ideas. If it takes 50 ideas to find the winning idea for your business, then it’s always time well spent as this is a long-term decision.
The best names are often the ones that are not too long and very easy to remember.
Some famous brand names such as Xerox, are so well known the brand name is actually used as a verb. Many people say I need to “Xerox” this document instead of “photocopy”.
The ability to change a language illustrates one of the many powers of a widely-recognised brand name.
If you need help coming up with business names, you can read the article 10 Business Name Generators to Help You Create Your Brand from the Shopify blog.
It has a collection of business name generators that will surely produce something appropriate. You can try acronyms, add or remove letters from words, combine two words, open a dictionary and pick a word, or even come up with an entirely made up name.
Then you need to check if your business name is available as a domain name, such as www.supsafescooters.com (fictitious)
You can go to the web hosting company Blue Host, and check if that domain name is available for registration.
Step 4 – Colors and Fonts – set the tone of your Shopify brand
It’s a known fact that people are more likely to remember visual stimuli compared to other things. This is known as the “picture superiority effect”.
Even very young kids learn very quickly what the Golden Arches of McDonalds represents as soon as they see them.
Colors have the ability to suggest different emotions when we look at them, and this fact should be used this to enhance your brand.
This is why companies selling particular products choose particular colors.
The most obvious example is the color red, which suggests power, strength and is attention seeking.
Take a look at the infographic below and think of what kind of instant emotion you would like your brand to convey to your audience.
You can take a look at company logo examples across many industries here at The Logo Company’s website.
You can also reverse-engineer the design of your competitor’s website by using Stylify Me, It will reveal the color scheme and fonts used.
See Stylify Me in action by checking out Shopify’s brand colours and fonts used on their website.
The font you choose for your logo has to complement and not compete with the shapes and colors used in your logo.
The main choice is whether to go for a clean simple Sans Serif Font such as Helvetica, Avant Garde, Arial or Geneva, or a Serif font such as Times Roman, Courier, New Century Schoolbook or Palatino, if your products need to convey a certain sense of style.
Most importantly, the fonts you choose must look professional, because let’s face it, an online store that has an unprofessional look lacks credibility and trust and without these two things, no one will buy from you.
As far as your store pages go, never use more than two fonts on your Shopify store, one for headings and one for the body text.
Too many different fonts contribute to what’s known as visual overload. Keep your font selection simple, clean and legible.
Shopify’s Themes definitely take these and many other design and branding things into consideration with their clean and professional designs.
If you want to customize and match your fonts, a good place to start is with the FontPair tool.
Step 5 – Come up with a slogan
Having a catchy slogan can be a great complement to the name of your brand. It must be short and deliver a strong, simple and relevant message.
Unlike the name of your business, you can try different slogans as time goes by to see what works best for you, but don’t change too often.
Ford for example changed its slogan from “Drive One” to “Go Further”.
This is sometimes necessary if a company’s main product focus or direction changes.
Work with metaphors, rhymes, word combinations and strong statements.
Once you’ve created a slogan shortlist, say each of the slogans after your brand’s name out loud to see if they work well together.
But remember, a really memorable slogan has the power to stand on its own without the brand attached to it.
One of the most recognizable phrases in the history of branding is Nike’s iconic slogan, “Just Do It”, which has been around since 1988. People immediately recognize “Just Do It” as Nike.
Shopify has a Free Slogan Maker. Enter a word and see how the suggestions make you feel.
Step 6 – Design your Shopify store’s logo
Often the first thing people think of when it comes to branding, is the logo design.
This makes perfect sense, as the logo is the first connection that you make with the customer, and it’s one of the most impactful tools in your branding arsenal.
Start with a blank sheet of paper and create some rough sketches. The colors will be added later. For now it’s all about shape, form and balance.
If you have some experience as a graphic designer, you can take your ideas into Adobe Photoshop,or Illustrator or a web-based editing program such as GIMP or Fotor.
If you find these programs a bit overwhelming and difficult to use, there are many browser-based image creation tools that are much more user-friendly for beginners. They include:
If you don’t have any graphic skills whatsoever, you can use Hatchful by Shopify.
There you’ll find ready-made logo templates for:
- Health and Beauty;
- Home and Garden;
- Food and Drink;
- Sports and Recreation;
- Gifts and Collectables;
- Art and Photos
If you’re looking for royalty free images that are appropriate to use for logos, or just logo ideas, Pixabay has hundreds of vector art stock images.
If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for on Pixabay or any other free image web sites, then you could get a professional custom-designed logo from Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer at an affordable cost.
If you need some extra inspiration, one of my favorite graphic design web sites is Inspiration Grid. Here you’ll be able to see some fantastic logo, design and branding ideas.
Step 7 – Promote your store brand
It’s now time to spread the word and grow your brand using different marketing strategies.
Firstly, ensure that your logo appears on all of your Shopify store pages, that the color scheme is consistent across your entire website, advertising, social media posts, EDM (Email Direct Marketing) campaigns, correspondence and packaging.
Some marketing strategies include:
Email marketing – capture as many emails as possible to build a valuable email list. This can be done by offering people something of value for free in exchange for their email address or you can retarget via email existing customers with other product offers;
Social Media – Facebook and Instagram are very powerful social platforms to spread the word about your brand. Read my article Gretta Van Riel from broke to multi-millionaire with Shopify and Instagram to find out how Gretta Van Riel leveraged the power of Instagram and influencers to achieve massive success with her online businesses;
Paid advertising – utilize Google and YouTube, the biggest search engines on the internet, to place your products in front of the right people;
Create a blog – a blog is a great way to showcase your product’s features and benefits in detail and illustrate the correct way to use your products.
Secondly, ensure that the tone you use to communicate your brand is relevant and consistent in articles, posts, product descriptions and so on.
The more consistent your brand is, the more instantly recognizable, respected and trustworthy it will become.
As you can see, branding is central to having a successful online business that customers will take seriously.
Quality branding allows you to create a connection with your customers where you’re not merely trading products and services, but also ideas, emotions and passions.
This creates stronger relationships, to the point that customers can actually relate and engage with your brand on a regular basis.
To create and maintain brand loyalty is one of the main objectives, not only so your customers will continue to buy your products, but also so that they will spread the word to family and friends.
Branding also gives your business a true sense of authority and gives you confidence as an up-and-coming entrepreneur.
This leads you to creating new and innovative ideas, strategies, products and services.
Together, over time, professional design and branding will definitely contribute to the long-term growth and success of your Shopify store.
If you’re not already a Shopify store owner, Shopify has a 14-day free trial (no credit card required).
Check it out for yourself and turn yourself from an individual into a future entrepreneur.