Today’s article is a little different than the others we’ve covered here on Wake Up And Drive.
For the most part, this site is dedicated to investigating ads that promote unusual websites or sections or subdomains.
But today’s test is a little different.
Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Honda’s cars. We currently own three of them, plus a Honda lawnmower. Plus there’s an older Accord in our driveway that we’re storing for a friend. Plus I have a handful of small Honda engines from various pieces of lawn equipment.
We even had an Element for many years, much like the one in the ad above. Except ours was blue. And it was not made of Legos (or MEGA BLOKS, as this one appears to be).
But none of that protects Honda from scrutiny on this site. As far as good web hygiene goes, I’m holding Honda to the same standard as everyone else (or even being more critical, if that’s possible).
Now, in case you weren’t aware, Honda is a big company that makes a wide range of motorized products, from tiny 25-cc single-piston motors for small garden tools, all the way up to twin-turbocharged IndyCar V-6 engines that scream at 12,000 rpm. And that doesn’t even mention the HondaJet.
No other major manufacturer I can think of is quite that diverse. Yes, General Motors has several brands. But they’re all cars/trucks/SUVs. Yes, Toyota has Hino trucks and makes industrial forklifts. Yes, McLaren makes high-performance sports cars and racing engines. Rolls Royce may come close with their line of cars and line of jet engines, but both are way out of most people’s budget. Hyundai’s pretty big, too, now that I think of it. They make freaking ocean liners, after all.
So when a company as diverse as Honda wants to promote a website for automotive consumers, what should they do?
Well, as far as I see it, they really have three basic options:
- Provide the consumer with a simple URL that is easily remembered, but then requires them to perform another click or two to get to the content they want.
- Provide the consumer with a very specific subdomain or site section that takes them directly to the desired content. That may seem simple, but then you get into longer URLs, like https://specificmodel.company.com or https://company.com/specificmodel.
- Go with an all-new URL to focus one one aspect of the business or market, like www.companyusa.com or www.companycars.com.
Neither option is great. You’re either making the user click around where they may get distracted or forgetful. Or you expect them to remember an unnecessarily long URL.
In the Honda Element ad above (and in many, many, many Honda ads that I may have meticulously clipped out of the magazines I sorted), the choice was the first one: Go with a simple URL: honda.com.
I don’t think either choice is wrong, really. And if you stick around with this blog for a while, you’ll see examples of all three (from Honda and others).
So the visitor has to click around a bit? By taking customers to the main site, you’re exposing them to a bit of your product range, which may boost interest in the brand.
Indeed, checking honda.com today, that’s exactly what we get:
Well, you’d need to scroll down a bit below the “hero” content at the top, but it’s there.
And, of course, this makes sense. Honda.com should definitely link to a top-level page that directs customers to different parts of the company.
I only bring it up here because it’s a bit different. Honda’s main site for car information today is the subdomain automobiles.honda.com. A check of the Internet Archive also shows that Honda would use the URL hondacars.com for automotive content (though that didn’t come up in any of the ads I found). Why go with honda.com instead?
Well, it’s a choice.