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Each company will have different branding. Each is in a distinct industry sector, with distinct target markets, but has some significant overlap with other companies in the group and some overlap with target audiences. The breadth of the Group's activities is huge and fairly confused.
My inclination is that they should have multiple web sites, individually branded and targeted but I have little experience of using the Internet for complex brand building.
Can you help? ... If they have multiple web sites, what's the best way to provide context for the Group - to have an umbrella site? Or is it possible to efficiently and neatly have multiple brands represented on one large site?
I've never heard of anybody succesfully marketing one site with multiple brands over different industries!
A main company site widgetcompany.com, and then a "company network" type domain with subdomains for each branch of the business. The difference between the two is like comparing microsoft.com to msn.com. Buy the domain names for each company/division in the group, and have them redirect to the real site which is a subdomain under the "network" domain. So you get,
- widgetcompany.com (Group marketing and company info, financial info, annual reports, etc.)
- mywidget.com (umbrella site for each division)
- widgetdesign.mywidget.com (individual sites for each division)
Keep a common look-and-feel accross the subdomains, with navigation up to the mywidget.com umbrella site (no direct cross-linking between subdomains - send then always via the mother ship!) so the customer can see what else the company does.
As I said, that's just an idea of how you can approach it!
If you want an example how a hugely diverse umbrella company organizes itself on the web, it might make sense to research what solutions other companies have tried.
General Electric and Berkshire Hathaway are just two umbrella companies that offer radically different solutions to how they showcase their subsidiary companies.