Dropshipping is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build a business for first-time entrepreneurs. You can have an online store up and running in no time even if you have no experience in the e-commerce space (if you need some help, you can follow this useful dropship guide). While you do not need to hold inventory, you do need to give people incentive to purchase from you instead of someone else—which means you need a brand.
Is a brand necessary when you are a solo entrepreneur selling products over the internet that you never have contact with? Absolutely. A brand is not just about your logo and funny tweets; it’s your identity. Would you buy wares from a merchant that you couldn’t interact with? Probably not. Faceless corporations are already suspicious enough, and the internet allows for unprecedented anonymity, so you want customers to have an image or sound come to mind when they think of you. So how do you go about branding a dropshipping business? Here are a few pieces of advice.
Take it seriously
First and foremost, take the branding process seriously. Just because you might be operating from your living room in your pajamas does not mean you should exercise half-hearted efforts. The best companies focus their goals and decisions on a mission statement, so you should have one too. It might seem like overkill, but when your business is growing or issues arise, you’re going to want some guidelines to help you.
Construct a persona
Now it is time to build your brand persona. This task sounds daunting, so it helps to orient your ideas around the driving force behind your business: your customers. Whatever you are selling will most likely have a target audience, so do all you can to learn about this audience and connect with them. The reason businesses survive is that they fulfill an unmet need, which means your brand is an opportunity to fill an unmet emotional need that other companies are not.
Is there a geographic location where your products are culturally popular? Where does your audience not live, and would they benefit from your merchandise there? How old is your audience? What are they interested in? You can also look into what kind of jobs they have, what their educations are like, their income levels, language, buying motivations, and more. Your brand can reflect your personality, but it should also be a friend your target audience can identify with.
Sport a recognizable identity
Once you have an idea of what you want your brand to look like, brainstorm ways to bring it to life. A logo is an excellent place to start. You’re going to need one anyway, so you might as well make sure everything else matches! Put appropriate thought into the design, colors, fonts, slogan, and other elements. You should aim for more than aesthetic: what message does your logo convey? What will people associate it with? Colors have different effects on people (in a very generalized sense, warm colors are invigorating, and cool colors are relaxing), so keep stylization in mind.
Also, consider what your voice will sound like. You could aim for authoritative, amiable, academic, soothing, or whatever best represents the role you want to fill in your customers’ lives. You can express your voice through content marketing, social media, your website copy, etc.—but when consumers imagine your image, they will also think of the “feeling” you give them.
Shape your internal brand
Your external brand is essential, but so is your internal one. According to Wisegeek, internal branding is a philosophy that “focuses on bringing the company’s core culture, identity, and premise to its employees as well as its customers, and usually looks to make workers at all levels ‘ambassadors’ or true representatives of the company and its values.”
Think of it this way: what kind of reputation do you want your dropshipping business to have? Google, for instance, has a famous internal brand; you’ve doubtlessly heard of how colorful its offices are and how much fun its employees have. Even if you are running your business solo, you still need to have service standards and values to live up to. Should you hire employees one day, they should be excited about your training techniques and company culture (which you can sculpt together, but your own “vibe” will play an integral role). What goes on in the inside will affect the outside, so your internal brand is reflective of your overall attitude towards your business.
The best companies have strong brand identities—your dropshipping business included. How will you shape your brand’s personality?