Infiniti // Don't Believe The Hype

Disclosure: I drive an Infiniti and I love it. So, I sort of root for the brand because I like the product, and it benefits me if the car I'm driving is perceived as cool. On the other hand, because the company's marketing is so poor, the car I drive is effectively at a discount. I've seen studies that grant Lexus a $6,000-per-vehicle premium for its brand value. In essence, I'd like Infiniti to do just well enough that they continue making cars for the US, but not so well that I have to pay them extra for it.

Snapshot 2009-08-16 20-31-02

Having just checked out the new Infiniti.com, I think I'm safe. The site is beautiful, with tons of well-shot video content about new vehicles and the spirit and inspiration behind the company's design approach. On the other hand, there's nothing to really connect me with the brand.

The main problem: It's all about them. I learned a little about them in the 20 minutes I spent clicking around. But realize that I'm an owner and I write a blog about marketing. If neither of those were true, and even probably if just the latter wasn't true, there's no way I'd have given them more than a minute or so.

There are a few secondary problems, like a complete lack of any structure to the navigation. It's almost as if they want us to just get lost within the site. Good for them if they're being graded on stickiness, but they're not.

Here's what's missing:

1. Don't just teach me about your brand. Use that content as a means of learning about me. The one interactive section I could find was where we're allowed to use a digital painting tool to mimic the traditional Japanese style that informs Infiniti's design. That would have been cool when we were still excited by Flash tools. Not now. Ask me questions about what inspires me, encourage me to submit ideas, find out what I think about what you have up there. Enable me to share it.

2. Don't oversell. There's a section called Living Luxury, which sounds really interesting. When you get there, you find three short paragraphs about what luxury means to Infiniti, and then a shot of a vehicle with a welcome light that comes on when you approach your car. That's it. If this is a big enough concept to have its own section on the site, come through with enough to make the journey worthwhile. Otherwise, accept that you have nothing much to say and kill the section.

3. Take it offline. If your initiative is to connect with people passionate about luxury, design, and performance, the site should be a springboard for events and happenings in the real world. The Events section only has photo and video from auto shows that have already happened. What about lifestyle events? Live exhibits of Japanese painting. Art openings. Private showings of the Essence concept vehicle in architecturally stunning private homes. Something.

As I said, the site is beautiful, and obviously cost a lot of money. It's too bad they didn't use all those resources to shorten the distance between their brand and we the people.