Branding – application and content (Co-Branding , White Labelling)

September 10, 2006

In this port third in the series of Co-Branding, White Labelling, I will talk about common strategies we use to brand application and content pages.

The branding requirement typically consists of :

– presenting the customer’s Logo / banner, typically on the top

– using custom Stylesheets

– custom content at pre-defined locations ( like if it were a shared airline portal, it will say enter your Executive Club card number, or enter your Flying Dutchman number).

– Suffix/prefix Title

– Page width

It is a given that the service provider will have to publish a documented stylesheet which the customer can modify, test and publish. For testing, ideally provide a staging area. In some cases providing a sample HTML also helps. It is better to provide a text area to cut and paste the CSS instead of allowing a file upload. A file upload always has the additional problem of verifying proper file encoding.

For logo and banner, there could be multiple approaches

a) Application included within a frame/iFrame of the brand’s page. This is the simplest approach. The problem with this approach is that there could be additional scroll bars and while navigating back and forth, the “container” page does not navigate to the top – causing confusion.

b) HTML and images uploaded via an interface. This option works well, but needs a staging area to ensure that the files are proper.

c) Brand’s page containing banner logo only uploaded within an iframe of the application. This is almost as simple as approach a.

d) Similar to C, but having a server side include ( like a portlet). It may introduce some complexities around caching – especially if it caches the data when the brand’s site is under maintenance.

– custom content at pre-defined locations : The application should expose certain placeholders where visible or in-visible content will be added. The placeholders should be present in the HTML header and body, prefix and suffix for page title, at the begining of the page, at the beginning of form and at the end at-least, all these placeholders repeated for each application page. An admin application (or the content management application ) to maintain HTML content at those placeholders help.

– Page width: The application needs to be designed to allow rendering either with 800 pixel width or 1024 pixel width to – based on configured parameter, It should give another 25 pixel margin for the vertical scrollbar if included in iframe.

– Labels: Some pre-defined labels may also need to be substituted based on brand.

– Content pages: For content pages, which are usually static the approach falls under

a) having placeholders like $name dynamically substituted while rendering

b)Use capabilities of content management system if present to regenerate pages with new branding.

c) One time find and replace.

The first option works best when branding is embeded deeply within content ( Like call Amazon at 11223344 becoming call Yahoo! at 22113355 ), the third for really static content.


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