I’ve helped launch a lot of Shopify stores and now i’m making one for myself, all in the name of fulfilling a passion project. It’s no secret that i’m pretty into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so much so that i’m currently travelling the world and training in as many gyms, in as many countries as possible (follow along here). However, in-between freelance projects and sparring sessions (and the odd siesta nap) i’ve been designing, and researching setting up my own brand. So i’m going to post my process here in the form of a series of posts i’m calling…
‘From The Ground Up’ a series of blog posts that follow along the process of creating a new brand on a Shopify store. We can help you build a shopify store, if you want more info then just get in touch. To view all posts in the series click here.
A little about the brand i’m building. I’m currently staying in Bali and i’m really inspired by all the awesome brands, businesses and design that surrounds me. There’s so much cool, beautiful design and such a great lifestyle here that I think it has become a breeding ground for businesses with a unique concept and cool brands to get started. I want to blend these ideas with my love of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and all forms of martial arts. I want to build a brand which not only showcases my favourite parts of jiu jitsu, martial arts and MMA, but that is inspired by my travels and the design and local beauty that’s around me, wherever I may be. I’m hoping it will be a nice outlet for ideas alongside the work I do with clients, but also find itself a nice little market.
Now on to the series.
The Work before the Work for your Shopify store
“Our store is live! Yes! Finally. Finish that champagne and now let’s go find some customers…”
A lot of people wait until they’ve created their website or Shopify store before they start creating interest. While this doesn’t always spell doom, i’ve seen the most successful site launches come from when a brand or business already has a following. Usually they are either already established as a company (in which case they’re looking at going from being big to…even bigger) or have generated a buzz at a grass roots level (more suitable for new brands and businesses). I’m going to assume if you’re interested in launching a new store that this is a new brand or venture for you, however there will still be some nuggets of information you can take from the information below.
Your future Shopify online store may still be months away, if you’re at the beginning of the design process, and that’s assuming this store is your number one project. If you’re setting up a store as a side or new passion project then you could be many months away from flicking the live switch.
So what’s a highly motivated and creative individual such as yourself to do?
Not your store, you can’t do that as it’s still being built. You can, however, launch your brand.
Your brand exists as a collection of online communications, just because your core one (your website) isn’t online yet doesn’t mean the other ones have to hide in the shadows. Millions of likes, interest and impressions are given out every day to content across a huge range of devices and platforms. Many of these go to social accounts without a website at their core. Does your brand need to be any different?
In fact employing the strategies of these influencers and social media monsters can give you a real community and a genuine audience that you can launch your store to. It’s like throwing a party and then telling everyone why they’re there once there all already dancing!
So, in a nutshell my strategy for this phase involves building up interest within my desired future market across the social channels, engaging with people within them, all while directing people to a holding page where they can sign up for an email list. This gives me separate channels that are all interconnected and an outlet to announce my store launch too once I have finished building a Shopify store.
Set up a holding page for your site. This should be branded inline with your future store so people can get a feel for your brand, what it stands for and what it’s all about. I went with a simple mock up of a future product and the tagline: “For Martial Artists Run Wild”. I think at this stage in the game when it comes to building interest, the actual design of this page doesn’t need to be too over the top. It’s sometimes hard as a designer to remind myself of this, but I think as long as there is enough information to convey your brand message, this holding page is doing it’s job.
You then want people to sign up to your mailing list. You can then use this to tell people about your brand when it’s ready to launch. I used an incentive of 20% off – and put a limit on it that this would be a one time only offer – to try and encourage people to sign up now, giving me a platform to send out offers to people when the site is ready to go.
The final aspect is creating a social following. There’s hundreds of articles out there on how to do this. This is a whole industry all by itself, however I still believe there are a few simple things you can do which will net you a good reward when you are ready to launch.
Personally I prefere to use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. These three all have their own unique approaches you should employ, especially when building a brand from scratch. This is just my approach and I hope it serves as a good guideline for you to put your own spin on your own brand.
With Twitter, it’s important to brand it up and engage with your community. Post relevant links as well as updates as your creative process. Allow people to really buy in to the journey you’re on as you build your brand. You may not go from zero to ten thousand followers overnight, however the people you do engage with will hopefully become true fans over time and feel a real connection to what you’re creating as they will of seen it from day one. If people tweet @ you, tweet back. Start conversations, tell your story and allow a small following to grow in to a bigger one in an organic way.
With Instagram, I’m using loads of relevant hashtags per post so that people can find the content I create. With it being a lot of more visual i’m trying to employ some video content as well, creating short little ads which will serve to really anchor the visual style of my brand. For me this means using a really muted black and white palette at times but also bringing in the beautiful colours that are in my inspiring surroundings. I’m letting the visual language of the brand evolve naturally. I’ll also being showcasing snippets of the design process here which again allows people to join the brand in its infancy and through engagement will hopefully foster them in to future true fans of the brand.
I feel with Facebook it’s important to have a presence but the biggest asset they have is that you can perform Facebooks ads on here. At this stage I will only be focusing a little bit on Facebook with a view to pushing the brand on here once the site is live through the use of Facebook ads (this will likely become it’s own post down the line). Cross posting the stuff rom Instagram is a good tool for Facebook as the content displays in full. Linking your accounts is an easy win to help your efforts on one platform grow another.
So they’re you have it. The ‘From the Ground Up’ strategy for launching before you launch your Shopify store. This ticks so many boxes as ideally you would have a strong social following of people who actually engage (so when you launch your site they share it) which acts as its own form of interest but also as funnels to lead people to the holding page where they can sign up to the mailing list. The goal is to generate a buzz and interest in your brand, formed from real documentation and connection with your audience so that upon launching, you not only have your first potential customers but also your first potential fans that will tell other’s about your brand.
This is a unique time in the creation of your brand and you should capitalise on the unique things it can offer. It’s a time for real connection with your audience by showing where your brand it truly at in its process. It’s not time to just hold your cards close to your chest until everything is perfect.
We’ll focus on actually building your store and brand in the next post.