Posted by Lorraine Carter on July 15 2014 @ 13:20
Amazon is one of the most recognizable companies in the world, occupying and serving more global regions than any other organization. And while it may seem hard to imagine branding a store that sells “everything,” the world’s largest ecommerce store has managed quite well! In fact, the name Amazon has practically become synonymous with online shopping.
While your company may not have the reach and capabilities of Amazon just yet, there are still several branding lessons you can take away from the mega-store’s strategies, positioning and brand management.
Image via www.amazon.com
1. Root Your Brand Identity Through Your Business Story
The humble start of Amazon is among the best-known business origin stories in the world and this story has been a tremendous asset in establishing the company’s customer-centric brand positioning. Millions of people know that founder Jeff Bezos left a high-paying career to found a startup bookselling company, which at first he operated out of a garage. The company’s unusually rapid ascension from selling books to U.S. customers, to selling everything to the whole world, completes the Cinderella story, even with its ups and downs along the way.
With this powerful brand story firmly established, Amazon is able to maintain its image as an organization that will always care about its customers, no matter how unimaginably large it becomes. Amazon’s story is a differentiator, setting the brand apart from other mega-corporations through its entrepreneurial grass-root beginnings. Their customer centric approach still is one of their highest brand values and drives the whole focus of the business in terms of their business model, brand strategy and customer experience.
Your brand story is a really important part of your whole brand strategy and any business seeking to strengthen its brand leverage should consider amplifying it appropriately in a way that’s relevant to your customers.
People buy with emotion and your story helps build that emotional connection. That said, your story needs to be worth talking about so you really must craft and communicate it in a way that your core target audience finds truly compelling, memorable and referable. Develop your brand story by revisiting the reasons you launched your business in the first place. This can help you pinpoint the areas worth leveraging to increase your brand recognition in the market. What was and still is your big 'Why?' To quote Simon Sinek, ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it.’
2. Highlight Your Brand Differentiation at Every Opportunity
Ask anyone what sets Amazon apart from other online retailers, and they’re likely to answer in a number of ways: the product selection, the customer centric approach and the prices. Regarding the selection, the original tagline for the company when it only sold books was “Earth’s biggest book store.” As the organization experienced exponential growth and added product line after product line, it became known as “the world’s largest online retailer.” Today’s Amazon customers can expect to find anything they’d like to buy—and some things they would never buy—available for sale on Amazon. This enormous selection of products is a crucial part of Amazon’s brand differentiation.
The second prong, regarding the lowest prices, has been part of Amazon’s branding strategy from the beginning. In fact, the company is so dedicated to under-pricing its competitors that part of Bezos’ business plan was not to make any profits for the first four to five years of operation, in order to keep prices low for customers. Other money-saving features have been added to the retail site in addition to low pricing—the most notable being the Amazon Prime program, which offers customers free two-day shipping, unlimited movie streaming, and now unlimited music streaming for a yearly subscription fee of under $100—amounting to around $8.25 per month.
Amazon’s huge selection and low prices figure prominently into their branding, marketing and positioning. Then their customer centric approach means they are constantly innovating on ways to enhance the customer shopping experience. Customers are continually informed of money-saving opportunities through onsite callouts, email notifications, and public announcements. Every customer’s online experience is bespoke and tailored according to their browsing interests.
3. Remain Flawlessly Consistent with Your Brand Promise
Above all other factors Amazon’s brand promise has driven the company’s explosive growth, worldwide expansion and enduring popularity among customers from every walk of life. It is a simple promise, though from a business standpoint it’s not so simple to keep: consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Everything about Amazon is engineered to serve the customer in the best possible way. From the unmatched product selection, to the powerful search engine that allows shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for in seconds, to the customer review system that supports shoppers research products from trusted sources (other consumers) as well as an opportunity to voice their own opinions and experiences with products, to low prices and highly responsive customer service communication. When you shop with Amazon, you’re guaranteed a flawless experience with as little hindrance as possible. And if you don’t get what you expect, Amazon will make it right.
In addition to setting the standards for the online customer experience, Amazon has built in several innovative customer features that enhance the overall environment. The company’s popular 1-Click ordering feature, which saves shoppers’ preferred payment and shipping information and lets them complete purchases with a single click, not only improves the customer experience but also increased impulse buying. And along with the extensive customer review system is a massive online community, with forums and message boards that allow Amazon customers and vendors to interact, discuss products and more.
The key to successful branding is, amongst other things, absolute consistency in everything you do combined with an unshakable brand promise. When your brand promise is reflected in every facet of your business, from customer-facing features to employee actions, to your products or services themselves, you create a customer experience which engenders lasting loyalty, high profile brand recognition and a much more powerful market position.
And in case you’re thinking otherwise, you don’t have to be Amazon to apply these brand strategies. All of this is very doable at a micro local business or national level and when done well, with absolute commitment, significantly contributes to your abilities to achieve brand success, sustained growth and increased profitability.
What do you think?
• Is your brand story really well developed and most importantly, known to your customers and resonating with them? If not ask about our Story Selling System™
• Have you identified the best way to integrate your brand story into your brand positioning?
• Is your brand really different, distinctive and memorable and are you capitalizing on your brand differentiators effectively?
• How can you draw attention to the unique aspects of your brand?
• Where is your brand promise being fulfilled properly and which areas of your business are weak and could benefit from reinforcing your brand promise more effectively?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!