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How to protect your brand on Amazon
September 14, 2021
If your company has spent a fortune building up a brand, it's worth protecting. Creating a brand that has a real emotional hold in the hearts and minds of your customers, takes constant nurturing. That can be difficult when your product appears on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, where there are lots of elements you can’t control.
Some brands have reacted by refusing to sell on marketplaces, but now with Amazon projected to be the UK's largest retailer by 2025, it’s a channel that’s impossible to ignore. There’s also the chance that resellers may list your brand’s products. When that happens, not only are you missing out on a slice of revenue, but there’s also the danger that they dilute your brand by presenting the products badly?
So how do you get a piece of the Amazon action, and make sure your customers have the same emotional brand experience wherever they shop in the ecommerce environment?
In this article we speak to Optimizon’s Creative Director, Mel Henson, who discusses how to protect your brand on Amazon. Mel has over 20 years of experience in positioning brands online, and is also the author of 'Flicks and Clicks', a text book on copywriting for multichannel retail. Mel now heads a team that specialises in optimising brand sales on Amazon.
Mel says ‘The relationship between a brand and its customers does not stand still. Like any relationship it needs constant nurturing and investment to keep it alive. This is even more crucial than ever in 2021.’
‘Back in the halcyon pre-internet days, companies like Unilever, Cadbury's, Mars and P&G could control virtually every part of the marketing mix - the famous four P's - product, place, price, promotion. Oh, how they agonised over PR, the only part that was out of their control where journalists were free to write whatever they wanted. It now seems quaintly innocent in the light of today's trigger happy keyboard warriors, firing off negative reviews at the slightest provocation.’
How brands lost control on Amazon
Mel explains how resellers have been able to get a foothold on Amazon and other marketplaces. ‘Taking back control on marketplaces has never been more important. Ten years ago, before Amazon started inviting third party sellers onto the channel this wasn't a problem. And in the early days numbers were so small it flew under the radar of most blue chip brands.’
‘That all changed in 2017 when more products were sold on Amazon by 3rd party sellers than Amazon themselves. Coupled with the massive growth of the channel as a whole, suddenly there was a critical mass that couldn't be ignored.’
‘Many brands found themselves in the invidious position of not really owning their own brands on Amazon, as resellers had jumped in first and got themselves listed on Amazon's Brand Registry. Often they would present words and pictures in ways that the brand owner would never dream of. Grammatical errors, the wrong tone of voice or artwork in the wrong colour palette, discounting, bundles and offers - all this makes for an inconsistent experience that can erode consumer trust.’
Amazon Brand Registry
One of the worst things that can happen to a brand is that someone else has taken ownership of Amazon’s Brand Registry. Without this, the true owner is powerless.
Mel advises, ‘The good news is that it is possible to kick resellers off the Brand Registry. Unfortunately it can be a long and tortuous process to prove you are the real owner. Numerous bits of paper have to be produced from trademark certificates to VAT returns and bank statements showing the exact name and address of the registered brand.’
However, taking hold of Brand Registry is only the start. Mel says ‘The ultimate goal is to give the customer the same emotional brand experience when they shop on Amazon as they would wherever they buy your products.’
Consistency builds brand trust
‘Providing a consistent brand experience means giving the creative work on Amazon the same respect you would give your TV commercials, press advertising and social media influencer packages.’
Mel adds ‘Copy should have the right tone of voice and encapsulate the core benefits of the product. Titles need to be compliant with Amazon guidelines, and have consistent taxonomy. The five bullet points of the Amazon listing should be constructed in a hierarchy that serves up each bit of information in the order in their buying journey.’
In addition, Mel stresses that the product listing images on Amazon images are becoming increasingly important. Why? ‘Because anyone looking at your brand on mobile may not even see the bullets. Amazon shows them the images first, and they have to scroll a long way before the text appears.’
‘When someone is viewing on a mobile they tend to want pictures rather than lots of words. That gives you the opportunity to add some graphics and text to create a story rather than just a series of images.
‘90% of sellers just upload pictures of the product at different angles. However, that's missing a huge opportunity to create an experience for your customer. The trick is to tell the story in the same order as the key messages crafted for the bullet points.
‘Choose images that show the core benefits, and add short captions to reinforce the message. Use colours, fonts and graphic devices that your customers associate with the brand and think through the whole experience from the point of view of the customer.’
Done well this gives your customers a ‘mobile first’, ‘Instagram style’ experience, which portrays your brand message precisely, and it’s very powerful. In split tests we’ve seen uplifts of 23% or more in just two weeks. You can see more insider tricks to increasing your amazon sales via product images here.
Budgeting to protect your brand
Finally, Mel is clear about what is required to control a brand on Amazon: ‘Make no mistake, protecting your brand is not a quick fix. Adding text and design to your images takes three times longer than just uploading a few photos. But the results are definitely worth it’
Not only can it produce dramatic sales uplifts, but it also gives your customers a cohesive shopping experience which is crucial to protect your cherished brand. Start earmarking your 2022 budgets now.’
We can see that there are no shortcuts to controlling your brand on Amazon. But, with the right creative approach and investment, it is possible to deliver brand consistency whilst tapping into the huge Amazon Marketplace.
As always, if you need any expert advice on optimising your brand and increasing your sales on Amazon (or any other online marketplace), reach out to our team of specialists here: https://www.optimizon.co.uk/.