In yesterday‘s comments, Esther wrote:
I am curious what Miracle has to say about establishing an online presence. Should a domain be the brand name or the company name?
First and foremost, if you only have one product line, and you only ever plan to have one product line, then name them one and the same and have one website. But, usually people end up finding opportunity in interesting places and getting into somewhat related or seemingly unrelated products and then end up having to backpedal their way into a company identity. Thus the reason I say keep them separate from the go.
Having said that, if you do have two separate names, then accordingly, you should have two separate websites: one for the company and another for the brand.
If you have a corporate/COMPANY name and several brands, you should have a “corporate website” (and it really doesn’t matter that you’re not a large corporation) and each brand should definitely have it’s own website/domain.
The reason you may want to consider a separate corporate/company website is because it’s extremely helpful when establishing relationships with vendors, suppliers, contractors, sales reps, etc.. You provide the company contact information and if you ever need to register for trade shows, you have one solid information portal.
Using Liz Claiborne as an example again, there is a website for Liz Claiborne the brand, and Liz Claiborne Inc, the company. One is a shopping site, one is not. Kellwood has Kellwood.com, and then they have their portfolio of brands, each individually branded with their own site. I know these are very large corporations, but these are concepts for smaller businesses to learn from and adapt. And even such, small companies can still acquire other small companies or lines.
I am a firm believer that should you pursue this strategy, you really should have a decent web presence, even if you don’t sell anything online. I am finding more and more, websites are being used to gauge legitimacy by vendors, suppliers, publicists, consultants, the media, etc.. It is helpful to separate the two, especially if you are kinda-sorta selling online, but only a select group of merchandise (the bulk of your line is in retail stores and you want to keep it that way). You may want to separate the two, because company websites often require including a lot of stuff and information that gets in the way of an ecommerce website. And a half-baked ecommerce website may leave people with the wrong impression.
I believe that websites are becoming an important tool to use to establish relationships on a business-to-business level. There will be many companies that were “found” by sales reps or contractors, or even received media attention because somebody was just clicking around the web and came across their site. I have seen companies disregard the importance of a web presence because they are not “into ecommerce” and don’t plan to pursue it, meanwhile leaving their brand/company with a poor presence and giving prospective “partners” the wrong impression about their company.
If I only had one line, yes I would still have two websites. One for the line. If I wasn’t planning to sell online, I would have the best photos and contact information for the line, sales reps and a media/PR contact. I would include what info is available by request: for line sheets, contact so and so, for media samples or product requests, contact so and so. I would include a link to a company website that would include pertinent company information, especially if I were still seeking “something” (a contractor, a mill, some super special fabric, a sales rep).
I could definitely see having one site to encompass it all (thus making it easier), but definitely not if I was planning to engage in ecommerce. Then I would not combine the two because the fluff of a company website can distract from the single focus of getting someone to buy something right then and there.