Best Multi-Brand Websites

Posted in Work

multi-brand strategy graphic

We’ve written many times about building a web system that reflects and supports your brand architecture, both on our own site and in industry publications.

Our two cents: a brand is often part of a family of brands, sub-brands, locations, or other variants. What you need to express and sustain that network may be less a “website” and more a "multi-brand digital platform."

On the front-end, will you present a tightly-integrated “brand house” or a looser “collection?” On the back-end, how do you manage all the content and requisite integrations without descending into a deep data nightmare? And can you scale efficiently?

We’ve used many analogies. A single brain expressed through many faces. A central federal government versus decentralized states. But the point is to strategize early on so that you deploy something uniquely analogous to your brand. Not a disjointed cobbling of sites, but a synergistic system where all the pieces fit and add value to the whole.

To see this in action, we’ve refreshed our roster of our favorite multi-brand examples that showcase how streamlined your sites and system can be.

Kimpton Hotels (a FINE client)

Kimpton re-defined the American boutique hotel category with a branding approach that balances a single unified promise while celebrating dozens of unique boutique hotel properties with their own diverse experiences. At the center of it all is a multi-property web system that reveals the full Kimpton brand in layers, making room for many brands of one while making space for each destination to shine as its own brand of place.

The Kimpton digital environment required a ground-up design and build, with information architecture to mirror brand architecture and support experience. It’s backed by a property-specific site design system and custom technology that integrates browsing and booking across all locations and devices, and allows for each property to share some common information and features while promoting their own distinct story. It adds up to a measurably significant impact on bookings, conversion, and overall brand perception.

Carmel Partners (a FINE client)

When you’re busy developing extraordinary residences in dynamic markets like our friends at Carmel, you need scalable systems to keep pace. With one hyper dialed-in platform, Carmel is able to support resident portals, online concierge services, intuitive search experiences, and evolving site stages (from splash pages to full operation) for 35 property sites and counting (over 60 have been added and/or sunsetted over time). Each location’s website communicates a strong sense of place, storytelling, and showcases differentiated design and imagery, and is powered by a scalable, yet flexible custom-built application that scales with their properties and locations.

Canyon Ranch (a FINE client)

These wellness pioneers offer a range of destinations, clubs, and experiences, from brief to extended, memberships to retreats, commerce to content. Their web platform is where it all comes together to support a lifelong “path”--a strongly-branded continuum that allows for different locations and experiences to fully define how each plays a part in a wellness journey, on-property and off. It’s a digital system designed and maintained to “inspire your well way of life.”

Curator Collection (a FINE client)

Multi-brand is the whole mission of Curator, an aggregation of independent hotel brands across a wide spectrum of experience. The brand promise of “hotels as independent as you” calls for an orienting “search engine” portal that helps guests matchmake to their experience, interest, style, and location, leveraging integrations from third party tools, and then easy paths to more in-depth individual sites for details and booking.

Noble House Hotels & Resorts (a FINE client)

In hospitality, the heavy lifting is always done on the backend so the customer can start enjoying a relaxing experience as soon as they’re ready to book.

Noble House’s digital environment provides guests with an easily navigable choose-your-own-adventure shopping experience that spans 26 independently branded hotel and resort properties, events, activities, and bookable spa and restaurant options. Users may discover an individual property’s website or let the umbrella brand website assist in selecting a location through experience categories. Not sure where you want to go but (definitely) craving sand between your toes? Select “Beach” and peruse a curated collection of oceanfront properties before launching the property brand website.

Each individual property brand website follows key master brand standards and a consistent conversion-optimized architecture, yet expresses the location's unique personality through imagery and custom content. This baseline standardization and push/pull approach between the primary brand experiences and property-specific websites creates a holistic system that is scalable and easy to manage from one centralized source of data.

Mercalis (a FINE client)

Sometimes, a multi-brand system is the opportunity to consolidate, clarify, and create an end-to-end perspective. Mercalis spent 20+ years as an assembly of acquired companies supporting life sciences businesses. The launch of their new integrated brand and website was the real merger of all those entities, leaving room for separate operating divisions to retain their product brands, and for new capabilities to roll into the parent brand down the road.

Unofficial Z Collection (a FINE client)

Brands can make a collective statement while still retaining their own edge. Z collection’s assembly of Z-themed hotels maintains a central brand destination online, and separate sites for each hotel property. The web system creates a value-added layer that guests can backtrack to when they’re looking to book, or the place to start their search the next time they’re looking for a place to stay.

Starting Your Multi-Brand Path

The starting point is a foundational understanding of how content, design, and technology pieces fit around customer and business goals. Here are some key questions to answer before kicking off:

  1. What business problems and opportunities need solving?
  2. What tools, integrations, and technologies are must-haves?
  3. What needs do website(s) visitors have? How different are those needs between brands?
  4. What do you imagine an ideal (online) customer journey to look like?
  5. How strong is the relationship between sub-brands and the primary brand? Is the link meant to be explicit or perceived by customers?
  6. Are your customers of one brand likely to be customers of another, or is each brand serving unrelated consumer segments?
  7. What percentage of content overlaps multiple brands?
  8. How much variety in visual identities and website aesthetics is desired?

Once these points are well defined, a backend with efficient horsepower can be built and work for a variety of glossy front-ends that connect your brand to what your customers need (and look damn good doing it, too).

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