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Yahoo Name Clouds Shine

The big news today is that Yahoo launched a new site in its network, one that is designed for women. Ignoring the arguments over conflict of interest, on its face this seems like a good idea.

If you look at the magazine rack, its consists almost entirely of women's magazines. Vogue, Cosmo, Lucky, etc., etc. all have one reader in mind: women in their 20's and 30's. Flip from the magazine rack to the online world and the translation is lost. The online world is filled with content sites targeting men in their 20's and 30's like Techcrunch, Techmeme, etc. Other than Jezebel and a few others, there's not much out there for women.

So, good move Yahoo - see a hole in the market and go after it. You have the advertiser base and the content team to which you can sell a whole new demo. Great move. Except for one thing: you blew it.

How? Bad content? Bad layout? Nah - those problems can be overcome. They blew it with the branding. Shine - ok, kinda like the name. Happy, interesting, unencumbered, not bad. So what happens when someone tells me to go check out this new site called "shine." I of course go to shine.com. Unfortunately that's a parked domain, not Yahoo's new site. If instead I decide to Google "shine" in hopes of reaching it, well, the Yahoo site barely makes it above the fold. Why is this? Because Yahoo's shine is located at shine.yahoo.com . Ugh.

Like everywhere else, brands matter online, and like it or not a brand starts (but it doesn't end) with a URL. The URL is the translation of the name, and so it is the name (just the .com of course, the rest don't matter - .net, .info, etc. haven't entered the lexicon). It needs to stand alone.

You'd think they would have learned this lesson by now. Yahoo has strong consumer recognition of its name, but not a strong brand. One of the reasons for this is that they insist on hanging every single property they own off of the Yahoo name. Autos.yahoo.com, finance.yahoo.com, news.yahoo.com - all good properties in their own right, but together have the net effect of collectively rendering the Yahoo name meaningless and individually stripping each property of an identity. Now, add shine.yahoo.com to the pile.

In fact, from a brand perspective, what is the only Yahoo brand that continues to have meaning and, not coincidentally, continues to be the market leader? I'd say its flickr. Guess what? Flickr sits on its own url, not folded into something silly like pictures.yahoo.com. They should do the same for shine.


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Comments (1)

I wonder how much shine.com wanted for the URL :-)

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