Imagine your brand as a single tree in the forest of an ecommerce marketplace. Although you may first notice your tree’s wide trunk or long branches, the most critical element to your tree’s long-term survival is actually its roots. In this comparison, think of roots as your brand equity—an often overlooked factor that determines whether your brand thrives in ecommerce.
Brand equity is the consumer-perceived worth of a brand, and it translates into value. It makes your product memorable and easy to recognize, and it gives your consumers quality assurance and trust. When you build a consistent, trustworthy brand, customers are more loyal and more likely to buy your product, even when it’s more expensive than other options.
However, many common ecommerce practices erode your brand equity much faster than you can build it, losing you valuable consumers and sales in the process. Read on to learn more about brand equity and how you can overcome the mistakes that keep you from achieving it.
How you can build brand equity
Your brand equity isn’t the result of one big decision, but a million small ones. These decisions form a customer’s experience with your brand, and they may be related to packaging, logos, social media, colors, advertising, and customer service. Most importantly, everything your brand says or does should be consistent with your brand’s story.
Nike and Coca-Cola are both prime examples of brand equity built on consistency. While both companies stay on trend and keep their marketing fresh, they’re also true to their brand, making it effortless for customers to recognize them. Their vision and aesthetic are both clear, and their visual communication remains consistent across platforms even as their brands evolve. As soon as you see the iconic red color or a loveable polar bear sipping soda, for example, you know you’re watching a Coca-Cola advertisement.
Your goal should be similar. One of the best things you can do for your brand equity is to stick to your brand guidelines and ensure any vendor that sells your product does the same. This doesn’t mean you need to use the same ad over and over or that your marketing never changes—it simply means you should stay within your brand’s box, even when that box is expanding.
When you’ve created and promoted a quality product, you’ve set the bar for your company and must continually meet that bar. The second you fall short of your standards is the second customers start to lose trust in your brand and your brand equity starts to erode. On the other side of the coin, even small brands can establish solid brand equity and enjoy ecommerce success when they’re consistent with their messaging.
Factors that erode brand equity
Since consistency is integral to building your brand equity, it’s logical that your equity begins to diminish when several different vendors (both authorized and unauthorized) begin selling your products on ecommerce with different visuals and messaging. Third-party sellers are often not as committed as you are to enforcing your brand’s guidelines.
This may result in listings with low-quality photography or unpolished copy that are not only sloppy, but also inconsistent with your brand’s style guide. If your creative elements tell a different story on product listings, social media accounts, and your website, your brand becomes unrecognizable and unfamiliar to customers, and your brand equity suffers.
In some cases, third party sellers may include inaccuracies in their descriptions for your product. Consumers are then dissatisfied when they receive your product and it doesn’t have all the features the product description claimed, leading to negative reviews, increased returns, and lower organic search rank for product listings on marketplaces.
Vendors may also sell your product for below Minimum Asking Price (MAP), driving down the price for all sellers and minimizing your margins. Consumers will be confused if your price is inconsistent and eventually begin to lose trust in your brand’s quality. Lower prices may initially lead to more sales and higher conversion, but over time, they will decrease consumers’ perception of your brand’s value and quality. Consumers will also tend to buy from the lower priced seller, which may be an unauthorized source, continuing to help the bad actor while hurting your margins.
A similar concept applies when you hire agencies to help you market and sell your product. Agencies may have worked well a decade ago when brands just needed to hire someone to design a big campaign or revamp their packaging, but ecommerce is a different game now. Brands now need an almost constant stream of consistent content on social media and across ecommerce marketplaces, and it’s difficult for agencies to stay consistent with this messaging when they’re not involved in the brand’s day-to-day operations. Simply put, an agency can’t quite connect the dots like a team that’s constantly invested in the brand, leading to visual miscommunication and brand erosion.
Why partnering with a sole distributor may help
Considering everything we’ve discussed, you may find your brand in a difficult situation right now. You know it’s best to minimize third-party sellers, but your company doesn’t have the resources to handle all Amazon sales on its own. You know agencies can be disconnected from your brand’s full story, but you also can’t afford to hire in-house designers and writers.
That’s where Pattern comes in. Partnering with a sole distributor like Pattern in a selective distribution model may just be the answer your brand has been looking for.
When you partner with us, we become your sole Amazon seller, giving your brand the consistency it needs to establish brand equity. But unlike other third party sellers, we’re fiercely committed to your style guide and MAP policies; We’re in the business of ecommerce, so we understand their weight. We adopt your brand’s voice and values and communicate them wherever we can.
For example, Integrative Therapeutics faced issues with channel conflict and inconsistent listings and content. Unauthorized sellers on Amazon led to poor brand representation and slow brand growth. After partnering with Pattern, Integrative regained control of its brand and grew its compound revenue 39% year-over-year.
"Prior to Pattern, we had two individuals spending a lot of time and not making much progress,” said Mandy Kraynik, Integrative VP of Innovation. “Going to the next step of making Pattern our sole Amazon reseller was critical to achieve the control we ultimately needed and have been able to maintain. They treat our brand as if it was their own. We trust them with our brand."
Our ecommerce experts work together with your team to create a consistent content strategy that converts. But unlike agencies, we’re involved in all of the day-to-day aspects of your brand’s messaging on ecommerce, bridging the gap in a way agencies can’t. Every Pattern partner is assigned an art director that’s dedicated to understanding the brand and translating its strategy to Amazon. We never launch creative content until it’s been approved by you, ensuring content consistently aligns with your vision and brand’s story.
Sock brand Feetures struggled with a lack of brand control and messaging before partnering with Pattern. Together, Feetures and Pattern eliminated unauthorized sellers, expanded to new marketplaces, and optimized images and content on Amazon. These changes led to a revenue growth of 67% in Feetures’ first year with Pattern.
“I trust Pattern implicity to make content that is on brand,” said Feetures Art Director Shelly Tackett. “I don't doubt their choice. Whenever they come to me with ideas, I'm always all thumbs up.”