Visual Storytelling and Branding is Essential for eCommerce Success
We all know the importance of defining a brand, it’s the difference between being identified amongst a sea of competitors on a shelf in the supermarket, it’s a way for your desired audience to instantly associate with your product or service. Branding has the power to create meaningful connections with your customers, and in turn create fierce brand advocates whose personal beliefs and convictions align with those of your business. So it’s safe to say that getting branding right is pretty key to success online.
In this guest blog post our customer Laura Lane, from My Icon Story, focuses on why iconography and storytelling is key to branding, and why it’s essential to get this right in the visually saturated world of eCommerce.
ICONOGRAPHY AND VISUAL STORYTELLING:
First things first, I should start by telling you who I am and introducing my company: I’m Laura Lane, Founder of My Icon Story (myiconstory.com) - a unique personalised gift brand that uses icons to turn people’s stories, memories, experiences and life moments into stylish wall art.
I believe that My Icon Story is visual storytelling at its best, with our online platform offering customers a fun and interactive design-your-own service. From city landmarks, animals and pets to engagement rings, hobbies and cocktails we have over 2000 icons for customers create their icon story - and now exclusive brand icon collections and product ranges in collaboration with Transport for London, The Natural History Museum, Love Hearts and NYC & Company.
In this blog, I’m going to give you my top tips on how I built the My Icon Story brand through the art of visual storytelling and how we used icons and iconography to develop an identity and signature handwriting.
ONCE UPON A START-UP
Before launching our website myiconstory.com it was important to start building a relationship and connection to audiences to build and grow the business. I founded My Icon Story in January 2017 but our site didn’t launch until 9 months later in September. So what did I do in the months leading up to launch to develop our brand identity and business proposition? I released an image of my very first icon story, born from my personal desire to own something that stylishly captured my sabbatical journey and travel itinerary.
I created an email signature featuring this image as well as adding it to the back of my very first business card. Whenever I was talking about My Icon Story, I would use my business card to show an example of what a My Icon Story was, demonstrating how the brand uses icons to capture personal memories and experiences. A conversation starter and a thought-provoker. Simply sharing my personal story of how I came up with the idea for My Icon Story was, and still is, my greatest marketing asset.
KNOWN FOR WHAT?
In a sentence, My Icon Story want to be known for ‘bringing colour and joy to our customers homes and lives.’
My Icon Story set out to be a trigger for memories and experiences. Every time you see your My Icon Story on your wall, we want that print to transport you back to the moment in time that each icon represents.
The majority of everything we do, everything we release into the world, digital and non-digital, centres around our icons and visual storytelling, because it’s what we want to be known and recognised for.
5 star customer service
As a result, we place great importance and effort into customer care and offering a very human and personal customer service. Because we are an online gift company I knew it was important to give My Icon Story a truly human and personal feel. A My Icon Story print is more personal than adding names and dates to gift products because each icon that a customer chooses has personal meaning and a story behind it.
Attention to detail
Part of our service to customers is the option to request icons - whether it’s something we don’t currently have (we recently got asked to add a nurse uniform and a Porsche 911)
or whether it’s something completely bespoke and personal (Nickelodeon asked us to create an icon of a slimepot, and a recent customer requested their local cafe in Bangor.)
Every icon request is handled by myself personally and sent to the customer who requested it for their seal of approval. Whatever our customers have in mind, we want to make sure we deliver their expectations. Here’s the My Icon Story we were requested to design for Nickelodeon featuring lots of bespoke icons they requested.
STAND OUT LOOK SHARP
The My Icon Story brand was designed to be iconic and eye catching which is why our icon design style is the foundation of our brand.
We’re not the first and certainly won’t be the last company designing icons but what we do have is a consistent design aesthetic - by developing a signature handwriting style for our icons - how?
Well that’s the easy part. There has only ever been one person creating all icons for My Icon Story. That’s me. People have suggested in the past that I should hire a graphic designer to take on this role, to free up my time. BUT I think there is something quite personal and special to know that the founder (of what I know will become a hugely successful global business) is still responsible and committed to designing every Icon you see on myiconstory.com. Wouldn’t it make for a brilliant story in 10 or 20 years to come!
Our icons have developed since we first began- we were super super minimal, almost designing icons that were more representative of an object or place rather than realistic. The more icons we added and were asked to add by our customers, the more we crafted our icon style to be consistent no matter what icon we were designing. We also were responsive to what customers liked and preferred and what become most popular.
Pre-launch crafting our design style and visual identity (2016)
Launch icon style, developing a minimalist yet iconic aesthetic (2017)
Heading into year 2 adapting out icon detail as we continue to grow our icon library and design more bespoke icon requests from customer (2018- present day)
Even since before we launched, the brand identity and development of My Icon Story has remained visually consistent. Clean, minimal, vibrant, colourful, iconic and most importantly meaningful and recognisable. It’s natural for a brand to adapt and change over time which is increasingly important in the fast-paced and cluttered space of ecommerce. The ability to be nimble and react to cultural and retail trends, whilst also still staying true to your brand identity and meaning, is what will make our brand and business stand the test of time online.
EQUAL MEASURES: STYLE & SUBSTANCE
Icons alone are not what defines our brand or makes us unique. There has to be meaning and purpose behind the aesthetics and visuals. For us, we believe that substance is a crucial and often invisible ingredient. My Icon Story’s substance is the thoughtful marrying and composition of our icons in a single, panoramic product design - giving each and every print personal meaning and turning them into a visual story - a MY ICON STORY.
My Icon Story is defined by the combination of 2 core components:
YOU AND YOUR LOGO = AN OPEN RELATIONSHIP
When people think of a brand, the most obvious thing that comes to mind is the logo. When creating the My Icon Story brand, our logo actually came last - I can’t tell you how long it took me to come up with the brand name! Crazy really considering how fitting and obvious it now sounds. But the logo itself was never meant to be set in stone. I wanted to keep it name-based and of course visually reflect what My Icon Story is all about - icons. BUT a logo is like an open relationship. You can try something younger or more mature, flirt with other colours and change things up when you need a new lease of life.
The beauty of our logo is that the name will always remain but we can easily update and change the icons featured in each letter to reflect our growing collection, any brand collaborations or cultural references. Here are some examples of how our logo has evolved, adapted and flirted with some temporary variations:
Our brand colours are purposely bright and vibrant because we encourage our customers to add colour to their walls using our prints - as well as being symbolic for our memories, experiences and life also filling our lives with colour.
Customers designing their own My Icon Story have a great variety of background colours to choose from including block and gradients:
And we’re really pleased that our multicolour icon on black background is also one of our customers’ most popular design mixes. Below is a curated collection of some examples that our customers have put together:
Wallhogger, 10-12 icons with black frame
Wallhogger, 10-12 icons with white frame
Inbetweener, 7-9 icons with black frame
Wallhogger, 10-12 icons with black frame
But it’s not just our products where colour is the hero! We’ve carried our brand colour pallette to our social media and marketing as well!
My Icon Story Mailchimp banner
With Instagram increasingly becoming a core driver for ecommerce sales, we take great pleasure in designing a feed for @myiconstory that really pops off the screen and portrays the essence of the My Icon Story brand. Capturing attention online has never been harder so we try to keep our feed interesting and purposeful.
So there you have it. A little peek into the colourful brand world of My Icon Story. We have by no means done everything right, followed a set of guidelines or used any professional services. Our brand has been built from the ground up, born from a personal story and desire to make personal memories visible to add colour to our customer’s homes and lives.
If you have read this far then you certainly deserve a discount! It’s been an absolute pleasure writing this blog for Lil Packaging and we’re thrilled to be offering an exclusive My Icon Story discount in time for Christmas.
To receive £10 off your first My Icon Story print order, simply use code LILP10 at checkout. Hurry though! Our guaranteed Christmas delivery cut off point for design-your-own My Icon Story prints is midnight on Sunday 15th December.
We would really love the support of the Lil Packaging community to help our brand grow and our business to go from strength to strength. Go on, give us a follow on @myiconstory - we promise not to disappoint.