Trust brand strategy to help you sell online


Euan Lockwood

3rd November 2021

If you’re selling anything online you have some kind of e-commerce business, which means that somehow, you’re trying to get people to visit your website and get them to buy what you’re selling.

Let’s just park the ‘get the people to visit your website’ bit for now (you can read more about that in this article), and we’ll focus on the ‘getting them to buy what you’re selling’ bit.

You might think it sounds easy because your product has all these amazing features and key benefits. But I have questions:

  1. How do you actually get people to buy, once they’re on your site? 

  2. And, what makes them want to buy your product over that of a competitor?

A question of trust

Marty Neumeier in his book The Brand Gap, states: “The degree of trust I feel towards the product, rather than an assessment of its features and benefits, will determine whether I’ll buy this product or that product.” (When he’s talking about himself, he means all of us behave in that way).

You might be thinking that the cost of the product surely comes into the decision. Well, of course; you could compete on price. However, there can only ever be one business who’s the cheapest. So if that’s not you, then you have to compete on brand instead.

Your brand is what others say it is, not you. And trust is the foundation of brand; it’s built when you consistently meet or exceed the expectations customers have of you.

So then, to compete on brand, you’ve got to give your potential customers an incredible experience that leads them to trust you prior to them buying from you.

The degree of trust I feel towards the product, rather than an assessment of its features and benefits, will determine whether I’ll buy this product or that product.

Marty Neumeier

Where to start?

If you’ve not really taken your branding seriously – and branding is more than just a logo – a good place to start is asking questions around your brand attributes:

  1. Culture: How would your community describe you?

  2. Customers: How would you describe your customers?

  3. Voice: Your personality. How do you sound?

  4. Feeling: How do others feel after interacting with you?

  5. Impact: What tangible impact do you deliver.

  6. Distinction: How are you different from others?

By thinking about and answering these questions you’re well on your way to understanding your business as a brand. 

You might think that you don’t need to do this, but the problem is, if you don’t, others will. You have the opportunity to understand and determine your own attributes in line with your vision for your business, which in turn will help shape how people view you, think about you and talk about you. And ultimately whether they buy from you or not.

Talk to your customers. Ask them why they bought from you, what was their experience like. Ask them the brand attribute questions - do their answers match up with what you think your attributes are (or what you want them to be)? If not, then you have some work to do, if you’re going to help new customers trust you and buy from you.

Start small

If all of this sounds like a bit much, start with these three simple questions:

  1. Who are you?

  2. What do you do?

  3. Why does it matter?

If you’re able to answer them – and especially the last one – you’ve got a good basis to begin to lay the foundation of trust.

We base our buying decisions on symbolic attributes: What does the product look like? Where’s it being sold? What kind of people buy it? Which ’tribe’ will I belong to if I buy it? What does the cost say about its desirability? What are other people saying about it? Who makes it?

If you can answer the last question, you can build people’s trust, and if they can trust who makes it, they are happy to buy from them.

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