I have been thinking a lot about how particular demographics use brands as a means for self-actualization and identity. Today I was with my sister at new outdoor fashion mall in Connecticut doing some Holiday shopping. I was marveling at how Banana Republic was filled with attractive young people with charge cards and thinking what a great demographic Banana has in its stores.
I began to wonder how Banana appealed to this great demo online, so when I arrived home, I typed in the URL. I was shocked! The website (IMO) is one of the most poorly designed websites for brand appeal, socialization and transaction pushes I have seen. Here is my analysis of what’s wrong with the Banana Republic website…comments and debate are always appreciated!
Let’s make some initial assumptions. First and foremost, Banana Republic should be pushing its brand on its website. Second, Banana should be establishing a connection (socially) with customers. Third, it should be guiding customers to make transactions.
One immediate observation I had â€“ there is absolutely no Holiday theme other than the words â€˜Winter’ and â€˜Season’ mentioned in the copy. Hmm. Seems strange, especially three days before Christmas. Also I’m not sure what color pattern I expect to see here, but orange definitely does not make me think â€œBanana Republicâ€�
1) The Banana Republic name is essentially hidden. What is difficult to see here is that the ‘$6 Shipping’ banner is actually a changing FLASH image which moves in such a way as to divert the eyes from what should be the most important copy on the site: the brand’s name! Make sure to see the site in a live format
2) The topmost grey area is an attempt to cross promote other brands owned by Banana’s parent company. This is absolutely stupid. Since it’s difficult enough to see the Banana name, having the Gap and Old Navy pushed at the top leads to further confusion as to what website this really is. Second, the Gap and Old Navy are second-tier brands compared to Banana. These cross promotions actually detract from the ‘higher-end’ persona Banana wished to convery
3) My Account. Great. I don’t have an account and neither do most people arriving at the site. The better strategy here is to assume that the visitor doesn’t have an account and the copy should lead them to sign up, rather than making assumptions
4) Sale Ad & ‘Fine Print.’ So a luxury brand wants to feature its sale items in a major way a few days before Christmas? This website already makes me suspicious with its weird cross promotions — add to that the prominent fine print stating â€œSelected Styles Only.” Such language only serves to reinforce in my mind that clicking here is a waste of time and Banana should not be trusted. More no, less yes.
5) Anti Social Rhetoric. Banana should be trying to connect with customers and ideally (I assume) get them to create accounts and buy stuff. Instead we see them telling consumers NO â€“ not yes.
6) The ONLY place on the website allowing for customer interaction without a big hassle (sign up for exclusive deals) is buried in a corner and marginalized next to another cross promotional ad for some shoe store (Um, I want to buy Banana, not PiperLime, even if they are really the exact same thing). What brand is being pushed here?
7) Store Locator. Banana is first and foremost an offline store. Thus, it stands to reason that a majority of visitors are hitting the website to find a nearby store. Why bury the Store Locator link at the bottom of the page? It should be feature prominently up at the top…oh wait, that’s where the Old Navy link is.
Â Update: Interesting Post on Banana’s Branding