June 14, 2005, 12:00 AM

Few e-retailers’ sites succeed in building their brands

Using a web site to build brand is a high priority of online businesses yet few sites are achieving that goal, says a new report from Forrester Research.

Using a web-site to build brand is a high priority of online businesses yet few sites are achieving that goal, says a new report from Forrester Research.

Decision makers at 148 companies said that building brand is the second most important goal for their primary sites, Forrester says. Yet, the web sites of only six of the16 companies studied scored well on a brand-image test-how well a site communicates and supports the brand positioning of the company and product line.

Sites studied were athletic shoe manufacturers Adidas, New Balance, Nike, and Reebok; personal computer makers Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard and IBM; fast food restaurants Burger King, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Wendy’s; and credit card companies American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa.

Forrester says that Nike scored “near perfect” on the tests because its content focuses relentlessly on how innovative product features translate into performance enhancing benefits for customers.

Apple came in second, followed by Dell, Discover, Wendy’s, and Adidas.

In terms of brand action-how well each site supports a typical goal for target users-only two sites passed the test. Dell scored highest, doing a superior job in selling laptops through content that exceeds user expectations with deep product details, comparison charts, and product views from five different perspectives, Forrester says.

Wendy’s earned the other passing score by doing a solid job of delivering required content and functions for users who want to plan lunches with limited calories and fat content, according to Forrester.

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