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Curiouser and curiouser – branding through the marketplace looking glass


Curiouser and curiouser – branding through the marketplace looking glass

From eBay to ASOS, most of us have bought from a marketplace website at some point. While retail giants such as Amazon readily spring to mind, smaller marketplace start ups are becoming ever more ubiquitous, allowing retailers to offer a variety of products relatively economically.

In fact, these websites are now so ensconced in our online retail habits that we’re less inclined to recognise them as the different (or perhaps just more exacting) animal they really are, particularly when it comes to branding.

Designing WNDRLND for lifelong jewellery devotee Gillian Murray got us thinking. Not just about the way marketplace websites skew the traditional branding process but the challenges and opportunities they create.


These retailers need a strong sense of brand with a compelling visual identity right from the word go, to get buy-in from the right sellers. What does the right seller even look like? Without understanding what their business stands for, it’s impossible to know.

And what about the customer? Much like other businesses, a marketplace’s brand image is critical to maintaining customer loyalty. But unlike most other businesses, this particular vessel is continually exposed to the risk of brand conflicts, via the multitude of sellers climbing aboard – each with their own set of characteristics and values. Nevertheless, with careful management the marketplace has the potential to thrive, delivering a richer customer experience than it could ever have done alone.

Unfortunately, all too often marketplace websites neglect themselves. With all the presence of a bewildered headmaster amid a stampede of unruly children, they’re trampled underfoot by the different brands they offer. Forgetting they need a particularly powerful personality to rise above the din, they’re neither seen nor heard. The opportunity to connect is lost.

Delivering an authentic story is one of the most powerful ways a brand can build those connections. “This is why we did it!”. All of a sudden there’s meaning to it all. And it’s this common thread which holds it all together. This shared understanding…obsession even…brings the seller, customer and retailer into the same orbit, gathering momentum through their shared experience.

What do you see through the looking glass?


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