The 4-Attributes Of A Powerful E-commerce Brand (Part One)

What if 10 years from now - you had a brand that sold a million dollar a year online? No, I'm not making any income claim or promise, but if you had such a brand...

It would fund your lifestyle, give you financial freedom, make your bank account bulletproof, allow you to live where and how you want. It would be your life's work. Your greatest accomplishment. Your pride and joy. It would allow you to look back on a fractured and random career and say, "it was all worth it - and it worked out really well in the end."

Take a few minutes and gaze backward in time from that point of success. How did you get there? What steps did you take? What puzzle pieces did you pick up and set into place to get clarity? Imagine your twenty-year old nephew comes to your house and asks, "how did you get started? " 

This is what you will say to your Nephew...

There are 4 attributes of a powerful e-commerce brand. Setting them up takes some time - and patience - and a commitment to see the idea through to the end - but if you'll do the work - you'll begin reaping benefits over time. At first, they'll be really small successes. So small, you won't be sure they're even going to make a difference. But as time goes on - your little brand will gain energy. Like a fruit tree that each year gets bigger and more impressive. Stronger and more unstoppable. 10 years ago, there was a series of articles I read about this stuff. Here is what it said:


The 4 Attributes Of A Powerful E-Commerce Brand

by Jason Miles

E-commerce is in its infancy. Like a vast wide open frontier, which you can explore and settle into. It's the new-world of selling. It's time you find a beautiful patch of ground along a gentle stream - and set up your online business. Build your dream. 

The get-rich-quick crowd will say to you it's hard - and for them it is. Because they jump from one low-quality business idea to the next. Short-term gimmicks that seem to work at first, but fade like a weed when the heat is on. Then they're on to the next easy money program. Always the next training program - a new guru teaching the next silly, short-term, flash-in-the-pan approach. They end up with no long-term assets, no real business, no wealth. They fail.

But you're smarter than that - you're a wise online seller and you're learning that what was old has become new again. The power of a solid brand - that fulfills an important promise - in an honest and ethical way - has never been more lucrative. Fueled by a growing universe of online customers and the use of simple e-commerce technology - such a brand easily over-delivers income and wealth to the owner. It's time for you to be that owner.

One hundred years ago your grandpa could make a good living as a butcher, baker or candlestick maker. That lifestyle faded as our parents were plugged into corporations to be 9-5 robots. Some did well, many didn't. We weren't created to be cubicle dwellers. That time is passing and the wisdom of our grandparents is re-emerging. The future belongs to us - the small independent brand owners that offer a good product at a reasonable price - sold online - and shipped worldwide. Such a business, with such an approach, and such a customer base, is unbreakable, unshakable, and unstoppable.There are the 4 attributes of such a brand:

There are the 4 attributes of such a brand. In this article I'll outline the first of the four. These ideas have been adapted from the work of Jon Ward and James Burgin. I'd encourage you to study their work.

The 1st Attribute - The Invisible Elements: Brands have attributes you can't see, but are incredibly influential. With strong brands, these invisible characteristics are more present, real, and influential than the physical attributes. Like an iceberg with a massive under-the-waterline presence, these attributes make the brand substantial. When you're establishing a brand - you have to work hard to set up these attributes. What are they? 

  1. Niche Leadership: The best brands are the #1 provider in their niche. When they can't be #1, they make up a new niche, that they define, and then dominate with their unique approach. Competitors will come, but the benefits of being the leader are clear. So if you can't be the biggest coffee brand in the world? Fine, be the strongest coffee brand as measured by milligrams of caffeine and own that niche. Can't create the best house speakers, fine, make the worlds best tiny speakers. Create a unique category.   
  2. The Promise: The start of any good business brand is a promise. You promise something to the customer - and you deliver as they buy your product or service. The freshest avocado. The sturdiest work boot. The funniest airline. Your promise makes you stand-out. It makes you unique. If you want to draw a crowd and win customers for the long-term, your promise can't be copied from another company, brand, or product. It needs to be an original idea. Here are a few promises you can adapt to your niche (adapted from Jon Ward and James Burgin):
    • The strongest
    • The most secure
    • The most stable
    • The most certain
    • The most durable
    • The most reliable
    • The most truthful
    • The most conservative
    • The safest
    • The most reassuring
    • The most expert
    • The most authoritative
    • The most beautiful
    • The most intelligent
    • The smartest
    • The most creative
    • The original
    • The most elegant
    • The most stylish
    • The most compassionate
    • The most giving
    • The friendliest
    • The most progressive
    • The most innovative
    • The most exciting
    • The most adventurous
    • The most luxurious 
  3. The Personality: The personality of your brand is important. The best brands express a personality that customers bond with just like they bond with people. This places the brand clearly into the realm of personal psychology. You want people to like your brand - like a friend. The simplest way to install a personality into your brand is to pick an archetype and begin applying it to your brand. What's an archetype? Here are a few to choose from:
    1. The Innocent: a pure, modest, and innocent characteristic or quality. Focused on purity and dignity. The innocent is angelic, clean, and humble.  
    2. The Outlaw: a rebel that revolts against the status quo, offers a counter-culture option, and makes an art form out of non-compliance.
    3. The Caregiver: a kind-hearted soul that serves with respect and compassion. Caregivers want others to do well - and they work quietly to ensure others are blessed.
    4. The Explorer: An outdoors enthusiast that lives to get outside, explore the wild-places, and find their own path.
    5. The Hero: A victor or champion that strives for mastery. They push themselves to new levels of success and achieve world-class outcomes.
    6. The Jester: The jester is someone that can make even boring things funny. An entertainer at heart, the jester tries to put a smile on other people's faces and makes jokes a normal part of their communication.

Combining The Invisible Elements: The combination of these invisible elements make your brand very unique. They are how you stand out from the crowd. They are how you become memorable, endearing yourself to your ideal customers. They allow you to win for the long-term.

Benefits Only Available To The Rarest Of Brand Managers: Most brand-owners will never do the hard work of developing the invisible aspects of a brand. They might pick a name, or a logo, but picking a promise and a personality? It rarely ever happens. 95% of all brands on the planet are zombies without souls. Created without care, without character, without creativity. They will not compete against you - they will not beat you - they will not damage your sales. Customers know the difference. Customers care.

There are no "perfect" brands. Just as there are no perfect people. But there are full functioning brands - that have been carefully constructed either over time, or with precise decision making. They stand out. 

I'd encourage you to slow down this week, go sit under a tree somewhere and consider deeply how you can apply the invisible attributes of a brand to your work.

In the next installment of this 4-part series, we'll do a deep dive into the 2nd Attribute - The Visible Elements of a brand and how you can apply them to your business. 


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