What does a site about a man dancing in a chicken costume have in common with a site about luxury brand Mulberry’s take on Britain? Well, they are both a ‘microsite’. And that means they have surprisingly more in common than you might think.
Defined as an individual web page or cluster of pages serving a single purpose, microsites are used to host a specific marketing campaign i.e. highlighting a promotion, product or contest. They tend to have their own URL but link through to their brand’s central site.
Subservient Chicken was actually one of the first successful microsites. Created in 2004 by Burger King, it featured a man dressed as a chicken who would perform depending on what commands you typed. Within the first three months it had attracted more than 750,000 unique visitors. The power of the microsite.
Since then, the concept has exploded and microsites are increasingly seen as a viral-worthy vehicle, with luxury brands joining the trend. But how have these small creations come to have such a huge online presence?
As they say, good things come in small packages. A microsite’s size makes it quick and cost-effective to create, avoiding all the complications of changing a brand’s central website. They can be easily search engine optimised, with focused, keyword-rich content and allow brand’s to track their customers and collect data more easily.
With a single message to shout about, microsites pack a punch. They cut through the clutter of the main website and create a more memorable, immersive experience for the user. What’s more, like the confines of a blank canvas, they spark the imagination.
Take Hermès recent techy creation, Knot What You Think (appears as a pop up) designed to promote its Autumn collection. Exploring Hermès products, the site presents the user with animated GIFs and beautiful, short films through a uniquely designed interface.The brand might have a long tradition but the microsite allows Hermès to show off its innovation and creativity for a new generation.
When a customer buys into a luxury brand they are not looking for the ordinary, or merely the functional, they are searching for something special, lifelong and authentic. In the same way a microsite breaks away from the ordinary and the functional and allows a luxury brand to explore its story and the more subtle offerings of its lifestyle.
Chanel recently launched Inside Chanel which aims to tell the stories of the brand’s heritage through the people and events that helped create and shape the label. It combines a timeline with text, evocative video and iconic advertisements to join the threads of the brand’s story and show the strength of its roots.
The next stage is to become part of that story. In an increasingly social media led world, a microsite’s interactivity is fast becoming its most important feature. The newly launched, luxury brand Mulberry’s microsite Brilliant Britain highlights our nation’s charming eccentricities. It does not promote Mulberry products. Instead, it is creating strong brand associations, identifying itself with Britain’s uniqueness. Most interestingly, the majority of these associations are created by the public, who submit their own content to the site. It is not a one way conversation, the users mould the brand’s lifestyle for themselves.
Likewise, when we build microsites for our clients we design them to be a hub. A place where content is constantly flowing in and out of through social media. Our newest microsite, The Making Of Andermatt, serves firstly as a blog, generating interesting stories about the project, unique history and lifestyle of the area, with a stylish timeline feature in tow. But this content is not meant to remain static.
The site connects the strands of Andermatt’s social media presence with YouTube and Twitter feeds flowing into the site and content flowing out through them. The site and channels are an engine for sharing and in doing so we can get closer to our customers and allow them over time to shape the site’s content.
It’s come a long way from a dancing chicken.