Maintaining Brand Identity on Retail Sites

Most brands do a great job of showcasing brand identity through their own website.  But how can brands assert their personalities  on ecommerce sites? Retailers keep control of nearly all brand interactions—from the color and placement of the buy button to the return policies and pricing.

Maintaining Brand Identity

On retailer sites, the product page becomes the one place where brands can assert their identity.

Brand Identity in Ecommerce

Brand identity signals important messages about your products, such as its value, usefulness, and credibility. It also helps create consistent brand experiences, which help convert shoppers into buyers and loyal customers. Coherent messaging simply feels more confident and trustworthy.

Building this level of recognition and reliability takes time and effort. It may be tempting to focus your labor on your own brand website. After all, ecommerce sites have their own guidelines—why not leave it up to them?

This, however, would be a missed opportunity.

Nearly half of product searches start on Amazon. Those customers will  judge your brand based on your Amazon product page. Neglecting brand identity on Amazon and other retailer sites could cost you sales and may even jeopardize the brand image you’re working hard to earn.

Tips For Maintaining Character

The struggle for content control between brands and ecommerce sites is real. While you can’t call the shots on your retailer’s site, you can assert your brand identity on the product page, in ways your retailer will allow. Here are some ways to maintain control:

Dig into your retailer’s content requirements

Brand Identity On The Digital Shelf

Every ecommerce channel has its own product page framework, so it’s critical to understand the differences. This is especially the case if you’re working with multiple channels. Get intimate with the guidelines, which should cover the page layout, product images, written content, upload requirements, and everything in between.

For example, our blog post How to Sell at Costco points out that the retailer favors long-form content and its style guide doesn’t say much about voice or tone. Amazon, on the other hand, has shorter word-count minimums for their enhanced content pages, but offers specific suggestions about tone and style.

As an expert of your brand, you can produce new content, or alter existing content, while ensuring the edits stay true to your product’s brand identity. It’s best to treat each channel uniquely and craft your content according to each one’s specifications. The more you know, the more you can control.

Stay “on-brand” with strong editorial guidelines


Image Credit: Percolate (

In their article “Defining Brand Identity,” Percolate discusses the “pillars” of brand identity—the  layout, look, feel, voice, tone, values, and mission. They pull an example from their own editorial guide to show how their brand’s tone and voice should inform their content, “Everything we write should be…thoughtful, interesting, proud, bold, and human.”

Next to each adjective, Percolate has an example response they want to elicit from their readers. For example, their “bold” tone should make readers feel as if the brand is direct, confident, and not afraid to tell it like it is.

When you have a thoughtful editorial guide to work with, it’s easier to stay “on-brand” as you and your team develops and selects content. You can think of the brand guidelines as a character profile/backstory that helps you develop content properly for different scenarios. Editorial guides should address all aspects of your brand, from its writing and image style, to the presentation of online content.

Taking a cue from Percolate, what adjectives describe your brand? What would you like customers to think when they come across your content?

Stand out with the right visual branding

The importance of visual branding isn’t a surprise. After all, we know how critical product images can be for a good online shopping experience.

Consider these words from Thomson Dawson over at Branding Strategy Insider: “A brand without personality is a brand without a soul. And although a visual identity is a small component of your overall brand expression, it is still the first connection forged in the mind of the consumer.” When it comes to ecommerce, images are indeed the windows into a brand’s soul.

As an example, let’s take a look at this Amazon page for a Cutting Food toy by Melissa & Doug. This company creates classic wooden toys aimed to stoke children’s imaginations and natural curiosity. Parents and caretakers might associate the brand with quality, safety, and simplicity.

The visual branding does a good job of supporting the Melissa & Doug brand. All six product image slots on the page are occupied and feature different image styles (packaged toy, multiple views, lifestyle shot). The video discusses details in a helpful and cheerful manner. The A+ portion of the page displays the Melissa & Doug logo, which is also referenced in the “About the brand” section. New customers are reminded to look out for the red oval logo. Overall, the clear images and bright colors are repeated in everything from the product itself to the backdrop in the video.

How does your visual branding stack up? Like the images in the Melissa & Dog example, your product images and visual media should speak to your brand identity.


Retailers have strong identities, which can make it hard to express your brand vision. But finding ways to work the product page will benefit your brand and your bottom line. Assert your brand identity on every sales channel by understanding your retailer’s content rules, creating your own style guides, and developing excellent visual branding.

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