Launching a new brand identity in a Web 2.0 world is one of the greatest challenges a young company faces. BeJane is a company doing it right. Here are a couple of the old ways:
If the goal is high traffic (i.e. web users), then you want generic terms, like www.WomensShoes.com, which many users typically type in when they don’t have a specific store or brand in mind. In this case, you’re not trying to establish a distinctive trademark, just making sure as many users as possible come by your site. It’s pretty obvious what this site should be about, but there’s no loyalty or personality. It’s anti-brand.
If the goal is to establish a unique brand name, say “Martha Stewart”, then you’ll spend many years building up the name recognition necessary to get the volume of traffic you need. I’d call Martha a “personality brand”, since it relates to her personally and her activites. If you like and remember Martha, the thinking goes, you’ll visit http://www.marthastewart.com/. Martha’s continuing challenge now, is how to maintain the brand yet extend the activities beyond things she does directly. If Martha’s in jail, heaven forbid, or otherwise unavailable, the brand and site suffer. She cannot be everywhere at the same time (think book signings or talkshow appearances). The power to leverage the brand is limited.
That’s why it’s refreshing to see a young site, www.BeJane.com, build its brand in a way that can allow almost infinite expansion. BeJane targets female homeowners who want to “Do It Yourself” (home improvement). Paint a garage door, install a lamp, resurface a driveway, etc. They aggregate female consumers in a niche which is very attractive to advertisers like product and tool companies, retailers, etc.
The idea behind “Be Jane” is that any woman can become a “Jane of All Trades”, and they’ve got attractive t-shirts and consistent visual images to reinforce this brand. The founders, both women, lend their faces, personalities and demonstrations to the site. What they don’t do, and this is key, is tie the brand to their names. This gives them the freedom to have multiple spokeswomen, to have multiple Janes.
Think of the Blue Man Group: we have no idea who are behind the blue faces. These guys perform in Vegas, London and a dozen other locations simultaneously. What scalability! The brand has personality, yet it’s not tied to a specific individual, like Martha Stewart.
As for BeJane, this brand also has personality, a plausible story behind it, and it can be adopted by it’s consumers: yes, even your wife or girlfriend or sister can become a Jane. How many product demos can Martha Stewart do in the 2,000 Home Depots around the country? Now, how many Janes could do this? Great leverage! With the right viral marketing, and in particular with the features available with social networking (think MySpace, LinkedIn), BeJane can become as large a brand as Martha Stewart, in a much shorter time.
The best thing is, any site which encourages my wife to do our home improvement projects definitely gets my support!
Disclaimer: I hold no financial position nor employment in any of the companies mentioned above.