Billions of dollars have been raised from some of the biggest investors in the world to buy Amazon brands. Sales grew $100 billion last year alone on the massive Amazon platform. So how do you build your own “brand” to cash in on this opportunity?
Why build a “brand” at all?
A brand, for the purposes of selling on Amazon, is a group of related products with a similar identity. Consumers know what to expect when they buy the same brand. The products are similar, the packaging is similar, the customer service is similar, and the overall experience is similar.
On Amazon, it’s tempting to sell a bunch of unrelated products. This isn’t a good idea. First, when you sell multiple, related products under the same brand, your products interlink to each other through the brand’s store page. If a customer is looking at a product and clicks the brand name, they’ll see all the other products you sell. This can result in increased sales.
Second, on almost all product pages, there’s a section called “Frequently bought together” and if you sell multiple, related products, all of the featured products can be yours. Some customers will add multiple products to their cart at the same time resulting in more sales with zero extra effort for you.
Third, you can sell new products you create under the same brand to past customers. When Apple comes out with a new product, such as their Apple Watch, they have a built-in base of millions of customers to sell it to. They’re not starting from scratch. Neither should you. If you build a yoga brand and start with a yoga mat, when you add a yoga block product to your brand, you can sell that second product to all the customers you’re in contact with who bought your first product. This is a much easier way to grow sales than selling many unrelated products.
Starting a Brand, Step 1: Find One Product
You don’t need a lot of products to build a multi-million dollar brand on Amazon. Some of our students have sold their businesses for millions of dollars with only a handful of products. To start, you only need to find one good product.
Look for a product you’d like to sell on Amazon with high sales and low competition. To determine the sales potential of a product on Amazon, you can use a tool like Zoof (zoof.com) or look for products manually on Amazon with a Best Sellers Rank (BSR) of less than 10,000 in a top-level category to start. To gauge competition, look for a product that’s selling well (BSR of less than 10,000) and has less than 1,000 reviews.
Next, see if you can private label it. The easiest way to determine this is to see if you can find the product available on Alibaba.com from many manufacturers. For example, if you search for “yoga mat” on Alibaba.com, you’ll find thousands of suppliers who will sell you yoga mats with your own custom branding on them. This means you can private label those products. However, if you search for “iPhone” on Alibaba.com, you will not find many manufacturers who can’t private label an actual iPhone for you. This means you can’t private label that product.
Starting a Brand, Step 2: Create the Brand Identity
Now that you know the first product you will sell, you need to create the brand identity.
First, think about who the target audience is for this product. The best way to determine this is to read the reviews of the current top-selling products. What’s the gender? What’s the approximate age? Why are they using the product? Is there a certain segment of the market you want to tailor your product to?
Let’s say you want to sell a kitchen knife. Is it for the 40-year-old stay-at-home mom who needs to cook for her whole family? Is it the single 28-year-old professional who cooks to unwind after a hard day at her corporate job? Both of these are different markets with likely different potential branding options.
Second, come up with a list of potential brand names that fit the product and the target audience. Ideally, write down a list of 20 possible names. Aim for no more than three words per brand name. Also, say the brand names out loud and see if they pass the “phone test” – if you told someone the brand name over the phone, could they (1) understand it and (2) spell it accurately? If not, skip it.
Third, check the US trademark website for each brand name to eliminate any with existing trademarks from other companies.
Fourth, check the .com domain name availability using a. site such as GoDaddy.com. Next, pick one of the remaining names and buy the .com domain name to reserve it. You don’t need to build a website yet.
Fifth, get a logo created for the brand. Make sure it fits the market and target audience like the brand name you’ve chosen. You can get an inexpensive logo created for less than $20 on Fiverr.com or a potentially higher-quality one created for $300 or more on 99designs.com. You can always start with a less expensive logo and upgrade later.
Starting a Brand, Step 3: Order Inventory for Your First Product
Now that you have a brand name and logo, it’s time to order inventory for your first product. Provide your supplier you found in step 1 with your logo files from your designer. They’ll use this to create your private label, or custom, version of the product with your own branding on it!
Starting a Brand, Step 4: Launch It
Once your product is ready, your supplier will need to ship it to Amazon’s FBA warehouses. Instructions to do this are available inside your Amazon Seller Central account interface. You’ll likely want to use a freight forwarder to handle the shipping for you.
Once your inventory arrives at Amazon, run a product launch campaign to push your product up in the rankings. A launch campaign typically involves temporarily reducing the price of your product to make it more affordable for people to give it a try. After the launch you will build reviews and can raise your price.
Starting a Brand, Step 5: Keep Marketing
Once the launch is over, keep marketing your first product with Amazon advertising. At least once a week, run a search term report for your Amazon ads inside Seller Central to see what keywords are producing and sales and which aren’t. Eliminate, or add as “negative keywords”, the underperforming search terms.
Starting a Brand, Step 6: Add More Related Products to Your Brand
Here’s when the magic happens! Once you have one product selling consistently, you can add more products with the same brand name to Amazon.
For every new product you add, do the same product launch process with one added step: let all your past customers know about your new product. You’re no longer starting from scratch! If you’ve built a list of buyers using package inserts or by growing your social media following, let them know about your new product – ideally give them a heads up when you run a discount. Reaching out to past customers and doing the same launch process you did for the first product should mean each new product sells more, faster.
The biggest companies in the world think a lot about branding. What are their values? Who are all their customer segments? How do they maintain brand consistency across all customer touchpoints?
Eventually, you might get there too. But, to start, you only need (1) find your first product to sell, (2) determine an initial target buyer for the product, (3) come up with a basic brand identity, and (4) start marketing that product. Once you’re producing consistent sales, add more products under the same brand.
If you follow this process for a couple years, you could build a brand worth millions of dollars selling only on Amazon. But you don’t have to stick with Amazon, you can expand your brand’s reach and sales by selling the same products on other channels such as Shopify, Walmart.com, Etsy, and even in physical retail stores.
What’s most important is you get started. Fortunately, the startup costs are reasonable even though the opportunity is huge. I can’t wait to hear about your journey to success!
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.