More than anything else, a company’s website is the public face of their business to the world. Consumers are doing more research than ever before when looking to buy a product or service; and when doing that research, if a business does not have a website they will typically loose any potential business from the customer because consumers are finding businesses without websites unprofessional. Continue reading
With regular algorithm updates, search engine optimization is a game with ever changing rules. What helped websites achieve top position in search rankings last year (sometimes even last quarter) is frequently no longer a high priority or even relevant to current SEO strategies. To help digital marketers better understand the factors that determine which websites rank higher in search results than others Searchmetrics, a leading search analytics technology company, recently published their Ranking Factor – Rank Correlation study. The study evaluated factors that differentiate better-positioned websites from pages placed further back in the Google.com organic search results, and compared those factors to rankings in 2012 to current rankings in 2013 to determine changes and trends. Continue reading
So you have been developing your online brand identity, making sure that your website is both enticing and user friendly. But, now imagine this challenge:
“There are five brands within a larger corporate brand. Each brand is required maintain their own online identity, but must also stay connected to the parent company.”
Yeah, I would define that as a very large, but very exciting challenge.
However, this is only one scenario for a company comprised of multiple brands. For one company it may be better to keep the brands separate (not creating any connection between the online identities of each brand), while for another company it may be best to completely intertwine all the brands under one umbrella. There is not a single answer for if and how a parent company should connect their various brands online, but below are a few examples of possible routes. Continue reading
As marketers, it is important that we are knowledgeable about changes that could affect how customers and search engines interact with our clients’ websites. Whether you work at an agency, follow some of the popular marketing blogs, are tech geek, or are all of the above like me, you know that web development has being going through a change lately, known as HTML5.
There is no “one way” to gain the number one spot in search results. Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms, which means companies have to continuously adapt their search engine optimization strategy to meet the needs of both search engines and their customers. Before diving into the ever evolving world of SEO, here is a quick and simple breakdown of the basic factors that influence search results.
- Keyword rich URLs – Descriptive words separated by hyphens
- Keep URLs short and to the point
- Clearly show hierarchy of information on the page (website.com/color/primary-colors/red/)
- Site structure (i.e. information architecture)
- Unique and relevant content
- Internal linking
- Meta descriptions
- Title tags
- Header tags
- Alt tags
- Keyword density
- Frequent content updates
- Inbound links from directories and other websites
- Google Places pages
- Online press releases
- Blogs and RSS feeds
- XML Sitemap
- Likes, retweets, pins, shares, etc.
Like many others, I have read and fallen in love with the Hunger Games trilogy. Upon finishing the last book, and with the knowledge of the upcoming movie, I decided to check out the movie’s website to watch the trailer. As I dug deeper, I found much more than just a website full of information about a movie. I found a multidimensional online campaign incorporating an interactive website and social media. The Hunger Games online marketing campaign has not only promoted the movie; it has created a world in which it feels like the country of Panem actually exists. In this post, I want to break down the official Hunger Games websites that serve as the core of their online marketing strategy.
Hunger Games Website Design & Strategy
As with other movies, a general Hunger Games movie website was created that features the movie trailer, photos, posts, countdown, and more.
Digging deeper into the site, I noticed that they had created an online world around the idea of a real country called Panem. A separate site connected to the main Hunger Games movie website called the Capitol.PN network was created.
Upon entering the Capitol Network Hunger Games website, I noticed that I did not recognize the top-level domain. My first thought was “what in the world is .pn?” After doing a quick Google search, I discovered the top-level domain.pn stands for the Pitcairn Islands. This domain is only used in a hand full of other URLs, including ESPN and Groupon.
So why was this uncommon domain picked? It actually seems like a VERY smart choice. They are creating a world in which it seems that this website is the official website of the Hunger Games (not the book but the actual games) created by the Capitol of Panem. This may seem like a very miniscule change, but this was actually a highly significant decision because the URL is on all promotional materials, both online and offline.
Upon entering the Capital.PN Network, users must register as citizens of Panem. Registration can be completed by using your Facebook or Twitter account. After registering, each “citizen” is assigned to a district (this will be pivotal to the social media strategy).
Sections within the Capitol Network site include
- Opening Ceremonies – This section includes information on how to watch the live broadcast of the red carpet premier.
- Reserve seats – Where you can purchase tickets to the movie.
- District Tributes– where you can view the profile of each tribute along, which includes specific QR code for more information. This information would be beneficial in Panem for betting purposes. A live feed of Capitol updates is also located in this section.
- Capitol TV – This section features only the official trailers for the movie, or in relation to the book, these are the Capitol sanctioned videos.
Here is the Citizen of Panem ID card I was issued during registration:
It is the small details make this online marketing strategy that make it intriguing. For Example:
- On the Reserve Seats page, there are several mentions “Attendance is Mandatory”
- The Capitol Updates feed on the District Tributes page makes sure to mention “Your Trusted Source for News”
- The Capitol TV page refers to the trailers as Official Capitol TV Productions.
Though small, each of these things helps to create a more real and concrete world.
Both the design and layout of the site do an exceptionally good job of portraying the culture and control of the Capitol. Almost the entire site is designed using shades of gray, which may represent the cold control the Capitol holds over the districts. The only other color included in the design is gold, which may represent the power and importance of the Capitol. The style of the layout is highly formal and technical; it reminds me of what I imagine a website that a secret organization used would look like. I think that the design and layout of the Capitol.PN Network site does a perfect job of portraying the control and unemotional rule of the Capitol over the fictional country of Panem.
Check out my other post just about the use of social media for the promotion of the Hunger Games movie. I breakdown how using multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube) helped to drive site traffic, build a community around the movie, and sustain a conversation. Hunger Games Social Media Strategy Breakdown
What do you think of the Hunger Games website?
Check out my other information on website strategy and design:
Some of the first things that come to mind when thinking about brand strategy are logo design, tagline, company goals and values, messaging voice, sales platforms (physical location and/or website), and company culture.
While the above-mentioned form the basis of brand strategy, many smaller items can significantly affect the success of your brand strategy. Consistency is the most crucial factor when implementing your company’s brand strategy. When it comes to all creative materials, whether a commercial, print ad, in-store sign, website(s), or business cards, all should be direct extensions of the brand. This includes font type, colors, and voice.
The styling of creative pieces may change per campaign to reflect a particular message, but brand colors and voice should remain consistent. This will create an automatic connection for the customer between the creative piece and the brand. In addition, this reflects a positive and professional feel upon the company. When none of the creative pieces match, or there is inconsistency in voice across campaigns, this often portrays a lack of structure and professionalism on the brand.
Consistent font types are especially important in website design. Using different font types across a website, such as one font type on the ‘About Us’ page and an entirely different font type on the Homepage, can be confusing and difficult to read when site visitors navigate through the site. This can often also give the site an amateur look.
The best way to maintain consistency is to develop a global style sheet that can be applied across your entire site. A global style sheet will control the font types, sizes, and positioning, as well as the styles for images and tables. Using a global style sheet will ensure a universal layout and professional design for your website.
Now, more than ever, it is important that we stop treating a brand and a website as separate entities. Websites should be extensions of the brand, not separate.
A brand is more than a company’s logo, product, or tag line; it is the experience that customers associate with the company and the essence of the company.
A website is the online extension of a physical storefront, and there should be a seamless extension of brand identity between the physical store and the website homepage.
A bad website experience can affect sales and even permanently affect brand image the same way that a misdirected advertising message can.
Since customers are doing more and more of their shopping online, whether or not they are purchasing or researching, it is difficult to imagine separating brand strategy from your website strategy and design.
Below are examples of companies that I think are doing a great job of using their websites as direct extensions of their brand. Check out their websites to see more ways that they are extending their brand from in-store to online.