Sunday, September 03, 2006


Dear Ed: You asked, “if you run across a web site(s) that you particularly like, or that you think works with the copy you’ve written send it on over.” I can offer the one but not necessarily the other – perhaps it’s a start.

Barbara has been buying a couple of products called “Simply Orange Juice” and “Simply Lemonade” lately, from a company called Simply Orange Juice located near Apopka, FL. These are excellent products. As I usually do, I checked out the company; sometimes it’s a good thing to invest in companies whose products or services you really like.

You’ve probably heard of the products; they’ve been around for about five years.

I went to the company’s website. Ed, this demonstrates the kind of simplicity and elegance that I think would have a strong impact on your own brand thinking. I have been talking about maintaining a lot of white space. Simply Orange Juice does this very thing – but with the color orange. Orange is the white space.

Unlike some of the recent site samples you and I have reviewed, it is deceptive in its sophistication…and as you might expect, there’s a great deal more to the story than this apparently simple look.

First, Simply Orange Juice sounds small, but it’s actually a part of Coca-Cola. A story in The New York Times tells us that Coca-Cola created this brand to compete with Pepsi’s Tropicana Premium Pure line. Originally, it was supposed to be distributed through the company’s Minute Maid channels – but I don’t find a mention of the brand on the Minute Maid website. There have been a lot of changes at Coca-Cola North America. Simply Orange Juice appears on the Coke corporate site.

Second, there’s an fine write-up about the case from The General Center for Internet Services in Canada. You should read it. The case history points to some very clear issues that Sharpe Partners in New York City, the creators of the Simply Orange website, derived from research and addressed in the site’s design.

Marlena Schwarz, director of client strategy at Sharpe Partners, is quoted this way: “It’s a great example of how a marketer can build a website that is brand-appropriate as well as consumer-appropriate without having to spend $1 million, or even close to that. Forrester Research recently did a study asking consumers what they look for on packaged goods websites and then looked at what the sites are actually providing, and there is a disconnect going on.”

Among other things, the Forrester research indicated that consumers DID NOT want games, activities and “lifestyle” information…they want facts, free samples and special offers.

By cutting back on clutter and focusing purely on the “freshness” and “simplicity” of the brand, Simply Orange’s website pulls off what I think is a tour de force. Not so many bells and whistles. Not so many constant updates, or fighting to get the website to the tops of search engines.

I Googled “orange juice.” Simply Orange Juice has to settle for #7 on the first Google search engine page (Tropicana is #1) – so Coca-Cola is obviously doing extensive work behind the scenes to keep Simply Orange Juice right up there.

No, I don’t think this exact design style will work with the copy I wrote (unless we transform quite a bit of it into downloadable pdfs). Your brand is a business-to-business play. But I think that being guided by Simply Orange’s…simplicity…is a very good thing. And it may serve perfectly for your next brand concept.

Hats off to Sharpe Partners and Simply Orange Juice Company for an outstanding website.

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