Insights Into Elevating Your Brand Without Breaking the Bank

Your brand is the cornerstone of your business. It blends your business identity with the perceptions of your customers, competitors, and anyone who comes in contact with your business. How your brand is perceived greatly influences the value customers derive from interacting with you.

A good brand not only helps you stand out in the competitive landscape but also attracts customers. On the other hand, a great brand goes beyond this, establishing a unique connection between your customer and your business.

Maintaining a prominent brand presence is crucial for anyone starting or growing a small or medium-sized online business (SMB).

During the months of November and December 2023, we surveyed more than 100 of our merchants to understand how they manage their brands and the challenges they face, providing you with key insights. This information will assist you in elevating your brand in 2024.

Long-Term Benefits of Investing in Brand

Our customer study reveals that SMB entrepreneurs understand the significance of investing in and developing their brands. A notable 84% of respondents believe brand development is a valuable business investment. This is a particularly good result because investing in a brand gives you many long-term benefits for your business.

Brand investment can expand your reach and attract more customers, but there is a lot more to it than that. Let’s dive into two less obvious yet crucial advantages:


Research indicates that 4 out of 5 consumers require trust in a brand before they even consider making a purchase.

Our survey of merchants found similar data and identified a common thread among successful businesses: the top three reasons consumers connect with their brand are related to trust:

  • Consistent and reliable product/service performance
  • Exceptional customer service (including after-sales support and warranties)
  • Recommendations and referrals from friends and family

Although these reasons contribute to trust in different ways, focusing on them can enhance customer loyalty and revenue. Importantly, these strategies don’t set you back financially, but they require time and consistency for you to reap all the benefits.

Perceived Value

The perceived value that customers get from a business extends beyond the actual product or service. How you position your brand in the market allows consumers to make subjective decisions in favor of your brand. A well-defined brand gives additional value to that audience.

For instance, high-end retail brands leverage their reputation and image to create a sense of exclusivity around their products. They can then monetize this reputation.

Another example is how smaller brands with longstanding relationships and a deep community presence benefit from high trust and credibility in their specific geographic region.

Both examples increase the brand’s perceived value, allowing merchants to set higher prices and enjoy strengthened customer loyalty.

Overcoming Budget and Time Restraints

In our research, we discovered some great insights that can be of value to other business owners.

We found that owners of small online businesses don’t really find it challenging to define their own unique brand identity or understand their ideal target audience and their preferences. This is good news. Knowing your audience’s preferences is vital to building a distinctive brand identity that resonates with them.

It makes sense that owners of SMB businesses have a keen sense of their brand identity and who their customers are, given they are fully involved in the business and wear many different hats.

However, we did find that merchants find it challenging to use this understanding of their customers and brand and turn it into engaging content and compelling stories.

~60% of merchants surveyed have moderate to very significant challenges with leveraging their creative skills to build engaging content and compelling stories.

However, the most common challenge we’ve found among small business owners is an absence of budget and time to focus on brand development.

Luckily, there are quite a few ways you can overcome these challenges without breaking the bank or spending endless hours on more tasks.

The Future of Branding Is All About Personalization

As mentioned earlier in this blog, trust comes in many forms and is a key component of building your brand.

Unsurprisingly, there is a human element to trust. Consumers are much more likely to trust a person than a brand, which is why we are seeing an increase in big and small businesses adopting a more human approach to their brand. Our research also confirms that this idea is true.

Almost 80% of respondents say that the business owners are a key element in their brand storytelling.

This type of brand personalization helps bring authenticity to your brand and will definitely pay off. Consider this: what feels more authentic? A small business owner passionately discussing their products and business, or a faceless ad describing how the company helps its customers?

According to Stackla (2021), “88% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support, with 50% stating it’s very important.”

Authentic content is also easier to create as a small or medium-sized business (SMB) since it doesn’t have to be perfect. Hiring an agency to produce long or very polished-looking videos is unnecessary. You and your team can do it yourselves — authenticity is never perfect and will always come across to your audience!

Think about the Customer Experience

Research from Segment.com reveals that over half (56%) of consumers state they will become repeat buyers after a personalized experience, marking a 7% increase year-over-year.

This need for personalization will continue to become more prominent every year, as the same study found that younger consumers are most likely to have negative reactions following an impersonal experience.

 49% of Gen Z say they are less likely to make a purchase, and 27% say they’ll stop shopping with the brand or share the negative experience with friends or family. Segment.com

The personalization trend also extends to the customer experience. Consumers now expect a personalized experience both while shopping in-store and online. Seventy percent of consumers express the importance of brands providing personalized experiences — up from 67% in 2019, according to Stackla (2021).

There are many ways that Ecwid by Lightspeed can help you with this.

With our recently revamped export tool, you now have much easier access to all of your customer data at all times. This data can be easily imported into external tools to help you share personal promotions, recommendations, or news with your customers. Or export the data of those who have abandoned their carts in your store, enabling you to use your preferred email tool to reach out to customers.

In our new Customer section within the Ecwid admin, you can find all the actionable information about your customers.

On the Customers page, you can also add any customer from the list to any of your existing customer groups

In our app market, you can find multiple tools to chat with your customers, such as Intercom and Live Chat — which are both excellent options for connecting with your customers and offering an exceptional personal customer experience.

Listen to podcast: Customer Service Tools Every Business Needs

AI Content Is Your Friend To Scale Your Content Production

AI-generated content currently is, in our opinion, one of the most prominent trends in marketing. Regularly creating content can be challenging. Mainly if writing or designing isn’t your strong suit or if time is a constraint. Fortunately, these challenges don’t have to stop you from producing compelling content, advertisements, or long-form pieces (blogs, newsletters, etc.).

Tools like ChatGPT and CopyAI are excellent resources to help you identify, create, or review your text. These tools have significantly lowered the barriers, enabling anyone to share their stories and brands with a broader audience without investing much time.

Simultaneously, platforms like Looka simplify branding efforts for your store by leveraging AI to design distinctive logos and materials that align with your company’s unique identity. You can generate personalized marketing materials like business cards, brand kits, and social media templates. Explore the Looka app available in the Ecwid App Market.

You can create all kinds of branded designs with Looka

Tips on using AI to create great content

Working with AI tools is new for almost everyone. Therefore, we have asked Francesca Nicasio, one of our in-house content experts, to help you get started with some useful tips to get started.

When it comes to using AI for content, prompt engineering is key. Start by crafting prompts that specifically tell the AI platform what you need in clear, concise, and detailed terms. Be specific; tell it exactly what style or tone you’re looking for, the length of the content, and any key points or themes that must be included.

Another helpful tip is to cite a particular person or company whose brand voice is similar to yours. For example, you could say, “Write in the voice of Oprah.”

Also, remember that AI learns and adapts based on your prompts and input, so if it doesn’t get it right the first time, then re-prompt it. Maybe the content that the AI produced was too stiff. If this is the case, then give it follow-up instructions to correct the course.

Also: How to Use AI Tools Effectively as a Business Owner

Lastly, manage your expectations. From a content creation perspective, AI tools are helpful for things like:

  • Brainstorming
  • Creating rough drafts
  • Helping you find the right word or phrase.

But at the end of the day, the final content will still require a human touch to make sure it lands and connects with your audience.

In a world increasingly dominated by automation, your distinctly human ability to empathize, create, and connect on a personal level remains irreplaceable. So while you should certainly use AI to drive more efficient content creation, don’t forget to infuse your own unique insights and emotional intelligence into the final product.

If you’re interested in learning more about AI tools for your business. Check out this useful guide with more AI tools for your business:

Don’t Forget To Measure Your Success

Investing in anything related to your business without measuring success in some sort of way will diminish its impact since you do not know if it was successful. Your money and resources are valuable, so you have to ensure you see positive results and make sure you’re not wasting your resources if something is not working.

We are not suggesting that you should always have extensive data and multiple reports ready before investing. However, you do need to have some understanding of the impact and effect of your investment.

A general rule of thumb is that the more you invest (time, resources, or money), the more you should be aware of its impact. Having at least some insight into how your investment affects your business will help you determine whether it has succeeded or if you should explore alternative strategies.

Difficulty in Measuring Brand Success

Measuring brand-specific activities is more challenging than measuring other marketing activities, complicating matters even further. When buying online ads on platforms like Facebook or Google, it’s relatively straightforward to understand the return on investment (ROI). You can easily track and calculate what you got back for every dollar spent.

However, for brand-building efforts, measurement becomes more intricate. For instance, if you regularly post behind-the-scenes videos of your business on your social media accounts, you can easily see the growth and reach of your channel through metrics such as likes, comments, and follower count.

If you use Ecwid to sell and promote on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, you will likely see increased sales. However, the data may not include orders from customers who follow your social media accounts and content, never click on a link in a post, and then go to your website and make a purchase.

Additionally, easy access to reports and data can be a challenge. According to our survey, approximately 1 in 5 merchants do not actively measure effectiveness or have access to accurate and relevant data to assess their success. This represents a significant missed opportunity for those merchants. So, how can you begin measuring your success effectively?

Where To Start Measuring Your Success

There are various ways to measure the success of your efforts. The approach you take depends on the goals you’ve set. Are you aiming to expand your brand reach to find new potential customers? Or focus on strengthening connections with existing customers? The data you need to measure will vary accordingly.

In our survey, we aimed to identify the most common methods they use to measure their brand-related activities:

Our findings align with the idea that SMBs are and should explore different methods to measure their brand success. It’s encouraging to see that the majority of SMB online retailers comprehend how to gauge their performance, but for those among the 1 in 5 who may not, we are here to help.

How Ecwid Can Help You

There are a few ways in which Ecwid can assist you.

Our recently launched advanced reporting feature allows you to review data related to sales and revenue, website traffic, conversion rates, and purchase patterns directly from the Ecwid admin — enabling you to understand the overall impact of your efforts. With the compare functionality, you can quickly review your month-over-month or year-over-year growth.

We are actively working on adding even more reports, providing you with additional data to make informed brand-related decisions. We also offer additional resources if you’re interested in learning how data and reporting can boost your business. Whether you’re just starting to build your brand or looking to elevate it, with Ecwid, you and your business have a reliable partner to depend on.

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