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Web sites for brand building

Group of companies starting out online

1:43 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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A group of companies with an alarming lack of direction wishes to evolve their marketing strategy for each company / division in the Group and wish to use the Internet as part of their ongoing strategy.

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?

4:59 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The strategy we pursued in the past in cases like this is an umbrella site for the main holding company (corporate info, shareholders, about the group, links to subdivisions, etc), and fully self contained and self branded sites per division. Each divisions clients go to that particular site, and it's marketed exclusively to that divisions clients.

I've never heard of anybody succesfully marketing one site with multiple brands over different industries!

5:44 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'd suggest looking at other sites for diverse corporations. From what I have seen there is usual an umbrella site with links off to sub web sites. As rightly put above.
6:17 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You could do something like this:

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)

- support.mywidget.com
- trucking.mywidget.com
- 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!

6:22 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'd say that if each division/sub-company can provide good content for its specific target audience, then the umbrella idea is the way to go.

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.


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