Communicating your brand is great; yes of course you should do that. But a website is a platform for you to do things beyond just explaining your brand. What things should it do? Those activities that can’t be achieved or properly controlled through other channels. Here are just a couple of examples, one specific to service businesses, and one to product businesses.
Part 2: For a product business:
The other way to use a website is for growing a platform on top of your business. A platform can help your business grow further, but it can also be a springboard for related products or services.
A platform in this context is a reason to believe. It’s proof of authenticity, and a foundation upon which to make new promises. For a platform to work, the new promises must be relevant to the platform (such as a basketball shoe brand is to basketball).
For demonstration purposes, let’s take the Great One, #23 (of Bulls roster, not Lakers). MJ had a platform: basketball. Whether he knew it at draft time or not, basketball would become far more valuable as a platform for other ventures as it ever could as a profession.
With or without MJ, the Air Jordan brand yielded an outstanding product line (let’s just pretend Nike could have produced the actual technology without MJ’s input, which is probably not true). It was highly differentiated from competitor products. But would it have been as recognized and celebrated without MJ? No. Because that celebrity was built upon the platform of MJ’s basketball career.
MJ would eventually use the platform of basketball to create many hundreds of millions of dollars in value for himself, his investors and partners through products (Air Jordan among them), branding endorsements and other engagements. What value did basketball, as his salaried day-job alone create for MJ? A mere fraction of that.
For some time now, I’ve been working with the team at Moon Meals™ to steadily extend the brand on top of its food business platform.
Their flagship product is an outstanding plant-based grab-and-go lunch wrap, and is is unique in it’s category. It is sold through retail grocery stores, so it would have been reasonable to put up a product page, talk about the brand, add some FAQs and call it a day.
But we’ve been using the product as the platform to expand the brand by adding recipes, lifestyle articles and media hits for the health-conscious young professional who is interested in plant-based eating:
Moon Meals™ has been increasingly engaging with consumers through IRL events, social media and with tens of thousands of visitors to the website blog and membership site, featuring exclusive recipes created and curated by chef LaForce Baker.
As a platform, Moon Meals™ extends beyond a specific food item or product line. It helps the brand with it's larger mission, which is about breaking the arguably false tradeoffs between healthy eating, convenience and food enjoyment. So a big factor is education, and another is entertainment.
But the promise – and the proof – of 'more to come' along these lines, is the grab-and-go food business itself. The website, in this case, is a vehicle that helps us build out from that platform.