Lexus fails with its website

There is a lot going on in the world of website design and development and it can be hard to keep up. As a result, some CEOs believe the only way to stand out is to give creative people free rein over the design of their website.

Now I’ve written about Lexus before and I mention them in my book (which incidentally you can buy from the Fusionbrand website) because they are spending a lot on marketing but don’t seem to appreciate the importance of the experience in the consideration process. Plus, every time I see a new billboard or print ad it seems to be telling me something different. There isn’t any consistency in their communications.

And then I saw a digital ad this morning and clicked on the link and came to this Lexus Asia website. In my opinion (and don’t forget all comments on this site are my opinion) this website is a serious contender for the worst website of 2016.

At least TRY to make your content real and believable
At least TRY to make your content real and believable

People today are time poor and impatient. They don’t want to sit around and wait for your complicated video to load (unless they are given an option to look at the video). And once they’ve watched the video they don’t want to have to burn up a lot of grey matter listening to a lot of nonsense and figuring out how to navigate around the site.

The Lexus Asia site looks good but is terribly complicated. It also looks different to the Malaysia site and uses a completely different approach to the Lexus Malaysia site which also has it’s own tagline.

Now following my terrible experiences with BMW, I’m actually in the market for a new SUV and I went to the site to arrange a test drive for the weekend but left angry and frustrated and without a test drive.

So if you designed the Lexus Asia website, here are 5 free tips that you might want to cut out and put on your wall.

1. Your website must be consistent and responsive. This means it must look the same on any screen and adapt to a users screen size to ensure a seamless experience. Your site isn’t the same on a smart phone, losing the consistency that is key to successful brand building.
2. Your website must be easy to navigate and have a clear, easy to follow layout. Get anywhere in three clicks or less is the general rule of thumb.
3. Flash is very last year and search engines don’t like them and some older browsers even block flash.
4. Your site should be free of clutter.
5. Make sure your video scripts make sense – “Luxury is stiff. It’s very lobster.” Seriously?

The Lexus site was overwhelming. Beautiful and creative perhaps, but it’s only there to get visitors in for a test drive, not to win an award. Oh wait, maybe that’s it!


3 thoughts on “Lexus fails with its website

  1. Odd coincidence.
    I was watching TV a few days ago and saw the latest Lexus TVC to hit in Australia. And my heart sank.

    One of my all time favourite adverts is this Lexus IS ‘Ballerina’ spot from 2013.
    The ballerina being emblematic of strength and elegance.
    Poise was executed to perfection.
    40 seconds music, video, editing few words.
    9 seconds in establishes it’s a car ad. On 35 ‘A stronger body for greater control’ appears and joins the dots.

    As an Ad, it was attention grabbing, and interesting.It made the product desirable and created a perception for it’s audience that would support the brand strategy.
    Supported the dynamic and upmarket aspiration that differentiates the brand from it’s sister company Toyota.

    This is what hit me between the eyes last week.

    Not an ad that can be played often at 1.10.
    The opening words are intriguing.
    ‘The World is made up of those who stand back. And those who dare to step forward.’

    This is the dialogue in my head.

    “Hmm is it an ad for RedBull?”
    30 seconds in we see product. ‘Cars’ at least.
    “Ok it’s a car ad. No logo yet.”

    35 seconds we see RX on the Reg plate.
    “RX – Hmm. Is that a Holden?” They hijack the truck.

    “Oh no. A Lexus logo on 43 seconds. Ok.”

    I see from the brief internal shot it has a big screen colour Sat Nav (so does my iPhone6S)

    They steal a car.

    It goes in reverse. But it’s back end is a bit fat.
    It’s an Auto and it shifts into Drive. Got it.
    It’s fast enough to go around a stationary transporter.
    It’s pretty from the side.
    It kicks up a lot of dust on an untreated road so it must be off-road capable.
    And ends on highlighting (literally) the whale mouth grill.

    No propositions.
    ‘For those who dare to step forward’? Please.
    More like … ‘For fans of Transporter and Fast&Furious, here’s a car you can’t afford, now move along sonny…’
    What it says to someone that can afford a $90,000 car is nothing.
    I’d say it actually distresses the brand.

    As does poor UX in web design.
    Poor UX is like a salesperson saying hello, “thanks for coming” as you walk in the showroom, and then disappearing and letting you walk around a room with a painting and 7 doors to ‘rooms’ where ‘cars’ or ‘prices’ or ‘request a test drive’ might be.
    It’s arrogant, unfriendly and ineffective.

    Experiences in real life, watching a TV ad and virtually have to be pleasurable to be remembered positively.

    It’s a good job the experience of owning a Lexus and referrals / recommendations from that core brand value make up for their poor quality experiences in communicating.


  2. Hi Nick
    Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to post such a great comment. I completely agree this website does distress the brand. It’s pretentious, insincere and quite possibly mendacious! But above all it’s a car for god’s sake. It might be a great car and only individual experiences will determine that.

    It’s classic mass economy marketing in the social economy. And to add insult to injury, the local website is completely different and even uses different key words to differentiate the brand from itself! How absurd is that?


  3. I agree that this website is very inconsistent in terms of its various regional versions. Navigating it can be confusing. The overuse of superlatives and absolute statements quickly become numbing and they lose most of their power. For those of us who don’t eat and sleep Toyota, an “RX Inspired suit” sounds like it has to do with a prescription. Would an ill-fitting, stiff-looking suit with superhero blue inserts and a too-short jacket and sleeves really attract car buyers or male suit buyers? I would say that a tie- in like this should be done with a designer who is truly famous- internationally- and probably not be shown on the car maker’s website. To make matters worse the designer makes clothes for women only. Who cares what a fledgling Thai designer has to say about the Lexus RX? A video of her speaking the type of English that has to be subtitled in English and talking about how “something new can also be elegant” as if this were groundbreaking is just a distraction from the point- the cars. It adds to what the original post called “clutter”. I also find it strange that this site is in English but not available in translation in each of the Asian countries where the cars are sold. Finally as for the chefs and furniture designers inspired by Lexus; would this actually sell cars? In reality it seems to be more advantageous for the artisans than for Lexus.


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