Brand websites: from flash showcase to fluid interaction

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Quick. When was the last time you visited the corporate or brand website of a product you consume? Chances are: never or rarely. I guess consumers don’t find any reason to visit the website of the chocolate brand they eat or the shaving cream they use. Except when a specific promo or activity leads them there. On the other hand, in categories where consumer involvement is high – financial products, telecom, gadgets – the website is a huge magnet and consumers tend to seek them out and visit them regularly. So, consumers need to be lured to fun and entertainment led websites whereas consumers seek websites of categories that depend on making an informed choice – telecom, cars, financial products to name a few. In telecom for example, I was happy to see the approach Tata Docomo has taken to their website, encouraging consumer participation and feedback. Not surprisingly, posts about their tariff plans have generated nearly 200 comments thus far. And going by the comments over there, consumers are looking visiting such websites on their own (I don’t think it was highly promoted) and pouring their hearts out about what they expect of this service. Even here, the personality of the brand on the website is a tad different from the mainline campaign of outdoor, press and TV.

Which brings me to the reason behind the nature of brand websites. At least in India, they could be classified into two kinds: a brochure on the web and a showcase of Flash capability. The latter kind is referred to as ‘flashturbartion’ by Brian Morrissey – Digital Editor of Adweek. It could be because many of the web site creators have grown developing stuff for TV and they simply replicate that on the web. On TV, it was about grabbing attention to break clutter and the same principle is applied on the web too. Unfortunately, the web is about finding the right information in the shortest possible time. So fancy flash animations and logo gyrations are passe. As Modernista and Skittles have shown, if you let go of control and direct the consumer to information about the brand as seen in the web, the message  is ‘hey, this is less about me and more about you, the consumer’.

In this context, Burger King’s new Beta website is putting the power back in the consumer. It has a simple slider, through which you can control what you want to see more of on the website: fun, food or the King.

Beta Burger KingAnother brand which points to brand experiences created elsewhere is The Axe Effect. Information about the product is not under ‘About Us’ or ‘Our products’ – it points to a Wikipedia page and a Drugstore page. The results of using Axe, the Axe Effect points to the brand’s YouTube channel and other campaign specific sites.

For me, the learning is simple: create as many touch points for the brand on the web and let the brand site be a conduit for as much information and feedback as possible. Any thoughts on this?

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