Brand Strategy Brand Marketing Fast-Growth Brands

Building a brand through online marketplaces

By Mel Henson, Head of creative



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February 17, 2022 | 5 min read

Online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are an essential for any product – but they’re an often-overlooked part of brands’ identity, says Mel Henson, Optimizon’s head of creative. She shares the rules for avoiding the pitfalls and embracing the opportunities of online product listings.

Optizimon on how the opportunities available in the online marketplace.

Optizimon on the opportunities available in the online marketplace

“If this business were to be split up, I would be glad to take the brands, trademarks and goodwill and you could have all the bricks and mortar – and I would fare better than you.” So said John Stuart, chairman of Quaker, a hundred years ago, indicating the crucial role he felt brands played in business. Now, in a world of fake news, misinformation and grey goods, brands are even more important than ever.

Brands are good for consumers. From their origins in the industrial revolution, when the place of sale became distanced from the place of manufacture, brands have enabled consumers to recognize quality.

Brands are good for business too. As Christopher Nieper, maker of handmade nightdresses to royalty, says, “the whole point of a brand is that you can get a premium price for your product.”

It takes time, money and sustained effort to build a brand, and it needs constant nurturing to maintain that reputation.

A brand isn’t a logo and a color palette. My heart sinks every time I’m presented with ‘brand guidelines’ with pages on fonts, proportions and acceptable photographic styles, but nothing about the consumer, their needs, beliefs and expectations, and brand personality.

Brands want their customers have the same emotional experience wherever they shop, be that on a website, bricks-and-mortar store or a marketplace.

Brand perils on online marketplaces

If you own a brand, you’ll know just how easy it is for a reseller to list your product on a marketplace such as Amazon or eBay. You have no guarantee it will reflect the true essence of the brand your company has spent years or decades building. Images, tone of voice, brand story, pricing policy – these can be presented inaccurately or badly.

And it’s not just Amazon and eBay – the number is exploding: Wayfair, Onbuy, Mano Mano, Zalando, Wish and Alibaba. And now social media giants including Facebook and TikTok are muscling in on the shopping space.

Well known bricks-and-mortar retailers are also entering the fray with Walmart, Next and many more evolving into marketplaces.

Creating seamless emotional experiences

It makes sense to start by creating content for Amazon. This becomes our ‘single source of truth’ that we can then syndicate out to other marketplaces, adapting it for their particular attributes, format and style.

Amazon has five different creative elements. Using them wisely builds a holistic experience that leads to higher sales. Brands are, as Kellogg’s puts it, “a trusted sign of quality.” Part of that trust comes from being consistent.

Just as it takes a lot of work for a brand to ensure that every pack has the same pantone color, regardless of the substrate it’s printed on, so it takes a lot of work to ensure that listings are presented consistently. To achieve this, develop a title taxonomy and a framework so that every product is named and listed in the same way.

Learning from social: storyboarding

One of the newest and least-known techniques in product listing is to storyboard images, adding Instagram-like captions, rather than a simple series of product shots of lifestyle photos.

It’s expensive, as each product needs bespoke copy and visuals for six images for every unique item. And it only works when the images are carefully thought through, well-designed and match your framework. But the investment is worth it, with a huge impact on how your brand is perceived. Last year, we saw several brands achieve double- or even triple-digit uplifts in just a few weeks.

Make use too of Amazon’s options for more visual creative assets: A+ content (a sort of poster about the brand that typically increases sales by up to 10%) and storefronts (a mini website hosted by Amazon).

Technology has changed a lot in the 120 years since Stuart was carefully guarding the Quaker brand, but people’s brains have not. They still have the same needs, wants and desires. Any brand that wants to have their trust for the next 100 years needs to invest in marketplaces to make sure that brand equity is not diluted, and customers enjoy the same brand experience wherever they choose to shop.

Brand Strategy Brand Marketing Fast-Growth Brands

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Optimizon is one of the UK’s fastest-growing eBay and Amazon Agencies, with clients including global brand leaders in homewares, garden machinery and sports equipment


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