Monday, March 30, 2015

Dr Pepper Snapple Group: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) is one of the world’s leading beverage companies and the top producer of flavored carbonated soft drinks in the Americas. A publicly traded company headquartered in Plano, Texas, DPS has 21 manufacturing centers, over 115 distribution centers, and about 19,000 employees. Through a century-long sequence of mergers and acquisitions, the company’s brands include A&W Root Beer, 7Up, Hawaiian Punch, Nantucket Nectars, Sunkist, Schweppes, and of course, Dr Pepper (created in 1885) and Snapple (created in 1973). The main About Us page is Our Company.

The DPS site suffers from a tendency toward elegance at the expense of functionality. We first noticed it on the Awards page, which has many pretty pictures, but no text related to awards. Then we accidentally discovered that hovering over a photo reveals text. And then we felt we had to try hovering over every image on every page, just in case we were missing something. Yes, the bold graphic look of images without text is elegant, but marketing mavens know that captions are one of the most-read elements on any page. It’s a waste not to have captions on permanent display, ideally in service to company history. At the very, very least, a “hover here for more info” graphic will ensure that visitors realize text is available.

Products/Services: C
The main About Us page has five teasers (brands, investing, sustainability, operations, mission) in a sensible layout with well-chosen photos. Unfortunately, the page lacks a concise statement of DPS’s nature and purpose. Plenty of relevant information appears on the Operations, Mission, Leadership Team, and History pages, but for visitors who get no further, a summary should appear on the main About Us page.

The History page offers some good corporate storytelling. Why not make it more vivid with vintage ads or logos of some of the DPS beverages that have been popular for decades? Given that DPS is a conglomeration of brands, an illustrated timeline might work even better than a narrative.

Our Commandment 10 of About Us pages is, “Remember to keep holy the updates.” The last tweets on the Our Company page are a year old! However, the site’s home page has an active Twitter feed, so apparently this glitch just means that no one at DPS has cast a critical eye on Our Company for quite a while.

Speaking of discrepancies: why does the Mission page have no obvious relation to the Values page? Why does Our Operations introduce “Rapid Continuous Improvement (RCI),” which seems like a either value or a way to implement a mission, but isn’t mentioned elsewhere? Our Commandment 9 of About Us pages is, “Worship clarity.” That includes looking for discrepancies throughout the site and adjusting the focus on business history as needed. Sites as large as DPS’s require frequent checking to make sure they remain internally consistent.

Personality: A
At the foot of the main About Us page, in a carousel display, are company leaders, each with a photo, name, title, and link to a full bio. This is a welcome innovation. The bios are top notch: they mention not just where the person has worked, but what he contributed at each job. (Alas, there are no female executives at this level.)

Bravo also to the FAQ (available from the Contact page), which presents just the sort of questions that consumers with inquiring minds like to ask: “Why is it called ‘cream soda’?” “What exactly is Dr. Pepper?” “Did Yogi Berra ever own Yoo-hoo?”

Accessibility: C
The Contact page (accessed via a link in the footer) is sparse but adequate: USPS and phone information for 5 different departments, plus a form for sending an email for half a dozen different reasons (consumer questions, media inquiries, potential suppliers, etc.). This would be an ideal place to encourage interaction on social media, but the social media icons are confined to tiny print in the footer.

The main About Us page should always have a quick summary of your company as well as great pics and teasers, for the sake of visitors who choose not to explore any other pages. And always, always, always check that pages within your site are consistent and coherent.

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). To talk about your About Us page, contact us!
Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company.