I first had a decision to make. Option 1: Create a website like amazon, with all the products together and "no brand image" besides honesty and good pricing. Option 2: Create several websites with brand image (Example: Action Sports Website, Mens Fashion Website, Deco Website) creating websites with content, news, events, brand image, like a magazine with e-commerce. I went for the option two because developing costs in my country are very low and I think I get the following benefits: customer loyalty, easier niche marketing and targeting, cheaper marketing, more website bookmarking, better brand image, easier to make brands join (because they are part of the movement), etc.
Now the second decision to make is. Option 1: Have a brand and several "sub-brands" for example "The Website - Action Sports" (The Website being the brand and Action Sports being the sub brand), "The Website - Deco", etc.. Option 2: Have several brands for example "The Action Sports Website", "The Deco Website", etc. I want to be stronger as a brand and be able to cross reference sites and in the future create an Amazon type of website with everything from every website. But I dont want customers to feel they are shopping at Macys; I want customers to feel they are a part of something that identifies them, since this is why I am doing the website separation, so I am scared that making the brand to obvious will cause this.
I think with your future goal in mind which is to eventually have a bigger website with everything from every website, it is better to go with Option 1. Having an umbrella brand and then having sub-brands within it will make it easier for the customers to relate to the brand once you implement your final goal of the bigger Amazon-like website.
This also doesn't hurt your need to make customers feel that they are a part of something that identifies with them. You could have your Action Sports website for example to talk directly to the right Action Sports customers. You just need to have some kind of branding indicating that this site is a part of umbrella brand. I can't see how this can hurt. In fact, this could even be done without completely different websites for every category. You could have one site with different category landing pages that lead to listing pages that only contain stuff from that category like Action Sports for example. Shopify has done a lot of these kinds of landing pages that are very effective. Have a look at these two which are aimed towards ebook authors and pet suppliers respectively:
But I think you've already got the separates website working? It's fine and could work well. What you're trying to do is really good. I have a lot more suggestions in mind which could make your sites a lot more effective and make more conversions/revenue eventually. I would be happy to discuss this in detail through a call.
You have to remember that Amazon did not get to where they are today overnight. I believe they were one of the pioneers in doing what they are doing today and they are often reinventing themselves. Your audience who is shopping for action sports will be very different than the audience who is shopping for home decor. If you must marry both brands, you must find a way that speaks to both audiences so they become loyal to the parent brand that they know they would get no matter if they are shopping for action sport or home decor items.
It can be challenging to simultaneously
(1) unify a brand that spans multiple websites, each with separate offerings and distinct audiences;
(2) make each individual website seem like a branded space in its own right -- something that an audience will embrace as expressive of their style and interests.
But it can be done. If you'd like to schedule a call, I'd be happy to gather examples of these "umbrella" brands (or "brand hierarchies", as they're sometimes described) -- some that I consider successful and others that come across as a bit schizophrenic.
We can take a look at what makes the difference for them. And, of course, I'd also be interested in suggesting some naming strategies that fit your particular business model ... once I learn more about the specifics.