When it comes to online marketing, companies with established brands have a lot of decisions to make. How much of their marketing budgets should they devote (or divert) online? How can they leverage technology to target customers with the right message? How can they measure the impact of the money they spend? What types of relationships should they make with emerging e-tailers?
Because of a legacy organizational structure and process, many of these companies have allowed their brand teams to develop their own web strategies. For this reason, they end up with a confusing multitude of web sites, each dedicated to a different cause, competing for the attention of the consumer.
Take Pillsbury, for example. The company has built and promoted three web sites that offer basically the same recipe-oriented content: Come&Eat, MealTimeIdeas and ClassicCookbooks. It’s confusing and counter-productive to have three destinations that offer, in the eyes of the consumer (me), more or less the same content.
But for companies with dozens of major brands, the decision as to how to communicate on the web is a difficult one. Should all the brands be lumped together in a “portal”? Should the corporate site be built out to include all brand messaging? Can some brands be linked together into areas of interest?
There are a number of different ways that companies have approached this issue. Here are some of them:
Option One: Brand Site Focus
Some companies have numerous brands that aren’t linked in the consumer’s mind. For that reason, they have developed independent brand sites that are marketed as separate destinations. This makes sense if brand identities are so disparate that cross-promotion is inappropriate. It also makes sense for brands that have distinct identities that would be diluted by being linked to a company’s other brands.
Option Two: Brand Bundling
While driving traffic to multiple brand sites sometimes is appropriate, it’s difficult and expensive to drive traffic to a number of different sites on the web and to build value for customers at multiple destinations. It’s also very advantageous to cross-promote multiple brands. For that reason, companies like Kraft (a subsidiary of Philip Morris) have bundled dozens of brands in brand bundle sites like KraftKitchen.com.
No company pursues only one approach. Kraft is smart enough to keep its Altoids and Toblerone brands separate, with independent sites that don’t link to Kraft Kitchen, because their brands are so independent and distinct.
Option Three: Concept Focus
Brand marketing is all about associating your product with a feeling or concept that resonates in the consumer’s mind. Marketers try to “elevate” a brand to a higher ideal, like freedom, family, community, love, etc.
On the web, some companies have built concept sites that offer content, community and commerce around issues or needs that are important to their customers. The brands lurk in the background and are strategically offered as solutions to problems or as paths to a better life.
An example of this strategy is PimplePortal.com, a Johnson & Johnson site created to promote its Retin A product. J&J promotes its product there on banner ads and offers content focused on a particular issue, not the product itself. While the concept focus strategy makes sense if it offers unique value to customers, it doesn’t make sense if a product isn’t easily associated with a larger idea (see: The Law of the Pickle Portal).
Option Four: Company Site Centric
When the company is the brand, the company site can designed to be a central destination. Take Coca-Cola, for example. The company name and identity is the strength behind most of its products. It makes sense, then, for Coca-Cola’s to invest heavily in Coca-Cola.com, and have its sub-brands become satellites of the parent site.
Such a strategy might not make sense for a company like Unilever. Consumers don’t associate Unilever’s brands, like Dove and Lipton, with the company that owns them. So locating brand communication around these products on a Unilever site wouldn’t make sense.
Obviously, the decision over how to build out sites complicates further when building out for a global market. When one brand needs to address dozens of countries in multiple languages, an added dimension of complexity in determining an approach becomes apparent. (See Building Web Sites Globally: Challenges and Solutions).
Every company needs to develop a strategy for organizing its web presence. Too often a company’s Internet presence is dictated more by inertia than a well-planned strategy. That’s too bad. The power of a good online strategy to build profitable relationships with customers is only matched by the brand erosion caused by a lack of one. Companies need to look at the way they and their brands are perceived by consumers and decide which alternatives make the most sense for them.
New Top-Level Domains (TLDs) have become more popular in the last couple of years, so here’s everything you need to know about them.
Amazon Prime was launched in 2005 as an express shipping membership program and more than a decade later it has tens of millions of subscribers who enjoy a lot more than just free, fast shipping on millions of products Amazon sells.
Sure, some apps are doing personalized push notifications, but what happens when your users are in the app?
Since cloud computing first gained mainstream attention around 2009, its popularity has exploded. Promising increased efficiency, flexibility and cost-effectiveness, it was hailed as the ultimate business solution. But are users seeing the benefits?