Many hands make Brandlight work; the Brandlight ecommerce platform and brandlight.org website is an open-source nonprofit organisation, designed and built for ecommerce, organisational development, and information security.
It is based on a vast library of curated and managed open-source website code repositories and systems – as you are seeing running here.
Brandlight is owned by all the developers, designers, system administrators, contributors and content creators that work on it, through their named accreditation with an audit-trail of code committed and content created.
The platform and website is not in itself a company, it is just another website – but it serves all its users as an accountable communications interface between; platform developers, brands and their audiences.
brandlight.org is based on the same Brandlight platform, being used and offered to brands as a method of introducing and communicating the features of the Brandlight platform, and the services and rates of the agencies that work with it.
The founder’s agency business is Agent Design (this website is due to migrate onto the same platform soon), based in Jersey, (in The Channel Islands of Great Britain), and is run and managed by many of the same people that created this website, as a showcase for our work, some of our clients, and offering of capabilities and services to those that might need us.
The Brandlight platform is also available through trusted agency partners, who contribute towards developing, using it for their own websites, and offering it to their own clients – to which agencies are invited contact us to discuss the al-la-carte and 50/50 relationship model..
Our aim is to provide an enterprise ecommerce, business and organisational website-platform that can function as the primary information management and communication tool for businesses, organisations and teams.
Our target is to provide all the features, and more – that have historically been expected to be limited to large-scale multinational marketplace and advertising platforms, like Amazon, Ebay, Facebook, Instagram and similar – for any organisation that wishes to have a comparable platform for their direct relationship with their users, teams, customers, partners and audiences.
If you can think of it, and it is a logical process or challenge to solve, then we can probably develop the data-structure and processes that you need, to make your website the solution to both unique and common needs.
We do this by working with the infinitely larger community of open-source web software developers, invested in the quality of the features, results and their recognition – this proudly open-source-first philosophy means we can by far exceeds in numbers the resources that any single organisation could retain and match with a closed-source and private platform development strategy.
As an example, WordPress.com hosts and serves more pages, and often visitors, than EBay and Amazon (US)  – it has more websites on the internet running on its core codebase than any other platform    – and from our choice of working with naturally secure open-source foundations, updated every day, Brandlight has by-far the largest, and we think nicest, community of developers, designers and agencies, serving clients with their own implementations, and extremely high and monitored security standards, from the vast amount of oversight our code has.
By choosing to align ourselves with the largest open-source communities, with a mature codebase, we can start from humble beginnings but already claim to be bigger than many multinational private and public companies, for the development resources and oversight applied to our base platform – and we certainly expect to be more affordable by being inclusive, transparent and efficient by design.
Security and Perpetuity
The platform was envisioned and designed to be donated to all its contributors for safe-keeping by the founder and CEO for design strategy and development, Marcus Quinn, upon launch in 2019, with the belief that ownership of one’s work is the best motivation for its continual evolution, and provides security through mutually beneficial interests.
All contributors have copies of the platform codebase, as well as its secure custody on GitLab.com, making the project secure by design as an open-source platform by being replicated many times around the world, and increasing in reach and maturity all the time.
The platform’s greatest strength and security is that it requires no direct income itself to exist or evolve, due to the income model for funding development being the enabling of the teams and agency partners that use the platform to offer paid setup, implementation, population, management and monitoring services.
In short, Brandlight is now in safe hands of many, many skilled developers and industry veterans, it is designed to be indestructible through its replication with the worldwide network of these many experienced developers – and completely self-funded by its users through the time, skill and energy that it reflects, and the cost-efficient transactions it generates.
The team and agency services offered in the Brandlight shop are offered at a globally agreed, and competitive but respectful rate – to ensure that sustainable service pricing gives clients transparency and predictability of budgeting, and ensures budgets are sufficient to ensure the affordability and availability of the highly-skilled levels of support that are necessary to be retained and paid to keep client’s websites running, secure and optimised for efficiency.
Yes, developers and creatives need to put food on the table too, servers need electricity, and we almost all need computers and smartphones it seems nowadays – but we do all this with a model where no single client is paying for the development of the overall platform, and the more clients using the Brandlight platform, the more development is going into it – far beyond the budgets and resources that would be sensible or affordable for any single brand or agency to retain and fund.
Hosting and management is provided by the Brandlight team’s existing infrastructures for their client’s hosting – geo-replicated for the security and high-availability that you would expect from any ecommerce platform.
Brandlight does not have any traditional competitors, in that it does not require a significant income itself to exist and evolve, it is simply a codebase and tool to promote and implement Brandlight-based websites by the agencies that use and develop it. It is effectively our library of code, functions and conversations, published on GitLab.com for safe-keeping and transparency.
The closest comparable systems that we study – and aim to better with a more affordable, sustainable and scaleable development model – would be services like the following, in no particular order:
- Shopify Enterprise
- Magento (Adobe) Enterprise Cloud Edition
- Amazon Stores, (not really a website though, since it is just an interface to Amazon’s own-brand store designed to be somewhat of a fiefdom economy where sellers compete by allocating increasing margins to the lords of the manor)
- Ebay Stores (again, not really your own website, although a significantly more noble and scaleable marketplace in its enablement of peer-to-peer transactions and fulfilment, as opposed to the communist central-planning model)
- Squarespace Ecommerce
- Wix Ecommerce
- Shopware (although you need a hosting partner)
- Zoey (an alternative curated Magento-based Cloud Service, similar to Brandlight, with the exception of being semi-closed-source)
- CS-Cart (needs a hosting partner)
- CraftCommerce (needs a hosting partner)
- OroCommerce (needs a hosting partner)
- Symphony Comerce
- Tell us about any others you think we should mention or review.
Yup – there’s a lot out there!
It can be a lifetime of research to review them all – and weight up the pros, cons, features, omissions and likely costs – but we’ll get to doing some more detailed comparison pages soon.
The Brandlight difference
What makes us different is that when we say full-managed, we don’t just mean setting you up with a copy, hosting it and giving you logins to start learning how to implement an ecommerce website – we mean we partner as your experienced ecommerce team and an extension of your own.
We use our own platform every day to sell products and service orders too, so we are equally invested in its capabilities, and continually evolving it for time-efficiency and the comprehensive communication needs of our mutual customers.
You own your data – customer’s own their data – and we simply provide the platform to protect it for you and your customers.
It is really important to us that you have access to all the data you need for a direct brand and consumer relationship – with all the policies, procedures and systems necessary to protect that with respect to both your customer’s and your business’s privacy and security – and can grow your brand-value by growing the offerings, capabilities and relationships that do this, and are reflected in your accounts, reviews and good reputation for doing the right thing in every area possible.
We provide many integration, import and export tools – and many recommendations on what you can do, or should not do, with data and the respect of security & privacy laws, and user expectations.
It is a complete myth for anyone to promote that you can, or should, own software or website systems – they are all built upon hundreds and thousands of different software systems and licences – and the code itself only really has usability for the creators and developers of that code.
In this respect there is a subtle and important difference between usage and utility, where we promote the ownership of the utility value, and delegation of the costs of maintaining code to those developers that simply use code to help a client, partner or customer get something done.
We encourage focus creating brand value by directing your attention to securing and owning your brand trademarks, domain names, intellectual property rights, inventions, products, copyrighted creative work, original brand-assets and, most importantly, relationships – which is where the ultimate control and creation of value is anyway.
We do this by removing the distraction and question as to who owns your website – because you do – and you don’t need to own the software used to create it to do that, just like you don’t need to own your word processor but you just need to licence a copy. The brand just has to make sure that funding for hosting, maintenance and support is secure, to ensure the ongoing storage and availability of all that brand value, and the brand property that the website serves to store and organise.
Our objective is to avoid and eliminate vendor lock-in that can typically be designed into a system through limiting access to data or export facilities.
We actively develop the Brandlight systems using standardised data-structures, import and export formats, to enable the release from vendor lock-in from other vendors – we do this by creating import processes from any platform we are migrating from – including scraping websites for structured data where export facilities are not readily provided.
The only reason we want anyone to use or continue with the Brandlight platform is because it provides the greatest possible value for capabilities, reliability and organisation far beyond any other alternative – which is a good kind of lock-in – but only because not all alternatives have the same cost-efficiency and structural design-objectives, and they need to promote higher budgets to match their higher cost-base.
We focus on service pricing-structures that are paid-on-performance, so that there are mutual motivations for growth and efficiency, and with volume-pricing for economies-of-scale generated for both the brand and the service agencies as we grow together.
You can do this in several ways:
- Brands – invite us to create a demo website to showcase what your full-service ecommerce international website can look like, in good-faith that if we can satisfy your expectations then we can work together.
- Agencies – consider our 50/50 agency partnership model for the promotion and evolution of both our services, and join our GitLab.com repositories if you can develop with us.
- Sponsors – if you like what you see and want to help it evolve faster and for more people, you can fund designers, developer, content creators and Brandlight champions, and if we’ll promote your ethical support with links, stories and case-studies on your own organisation’s involvement with Brandlight – or defer to you on confidential discretion with private support if you prefer – talk to us.
And because it’s nice to know the story, where we came from and how we got here, here’s a brief personal story from the team:
2000 to 2002
Brandlight’s team and experience began when a web designer and web developer first started working together, in the year 2000, for a web development and marketing agency in England, with many well-known international brands, including Coca-Cola, Hasbro, Harry Potter, Toshiba, Sony-Ericsson and more.
At the time we were some of the first people designing, hand-coding and building what later became known as “content management systems”.
This was all years before any of the well-known platforms, frameworks, devices or brands that exist today were even invented – designers has to work with 100kb page size limits, dial-up modems and 800 x 600 pixels on a screen were standard, and developers had to know their coding languages intimately, to hand-code everything and work with significantly less powerful computers.
We’ve been doing what we do since Amazon only sold books and took orders over the telephone, social media was a TV in a bar, and phones had buttons, aerials and a two-week battery life.
2002 to 2006
Over the years we have worked for many, many clients in big businesses, small businesses, government, publishing and notably, ecommerce.
Often, we would take on the projects for building the websites and systems but then find we were needed to help with IT support, accounting, communications systems and everything else that goes into running a business, where the website is integral to the market offering, and its handy to know some “techies” and “creatives” that can fix things and make them look good.
We’re helpful people and always did what we could to support our clients however far beyond our original project briefing and scope – although some expectations were even beyond our ability to solve, as we saw directly how the reliance on strong IT skills has increasingly become an essential part of business, or lack-of quickly became a critical skill and capability shortage.
We learn and evolve – taking on every problem, and turning it into an opportunity to create a valuable and efficient solution – our platform needs are clearer than ever.
Seeing the direct connection between the businesses, and their appetite for technology solutions having such a measurable affect on the likely success of any ecommerce endeavours, we felt we did not want our good website work to be risked by the underperformance of the custodians without sufficient vision for the value that purpose-build systems provides across every area of business.
We also took responsibility for all systems being easier to use, more accessible to the entire team and generally requiring minimal explanation because a good interface is also a good guide.
2004 to 2019
So we setup our own non-competing ecommerce websites, to fully develop and evolve for the needs in every area of ecommerce business.
We are now free to work fast, do everything possible the right way from the beginning, and design into the businesses security through capability, with an incredible team of skills to perfect, protect and evolve the businesses and platform as one.
With great success in growing our own ecommerce businesses, naturally our team and network has grown significantly to the point that now every partner we work with, we become a significant contributor to their own capabilities and presentation to the world, with our complimentary technical and analytical consultancy, for their good – and ours in having great clients.
We feel, through experience, that strong partnerships make it possible for great successes to be shared, and far more significant in collaboration than any one team or company can easily achieve alone.
Over the remaining years, this has all evolved to become the platform, and suite of tools and services, you see here today.
2019 and beyond…
With some patience, perseverance, and vision for how we wanted to create a brand for our platform, that would be an example to the many great brands we partner with, the name Brandlight was born.
Brandlight is an intentional neologism for the word “highlight” and specifically using the term “brand” as an omni-purpose word that can equally apply to people, places, products, businesses and all other types of organisations that rely on some kind of internal and external communications as to their offerings and unique properties, which collectively become identifiable as their brand, for which we hope to help enlighten through ethical technology.
This website is, as you see it – is one example of the Brandlight platform – and here we will now evolve to grow our partner brands, and connect them to their audience around the world.
We hope you find this site a self-explanatory resource, where we can also share many years of insight and an experienced understanding of true costs and potentials for any project.
Our whole team of technical, creative and business specialists are here to share and grow everyone’s confidence, in every area we work with by sharing our journey and lessons along the way.
We don’t sell dreams or work with just anyone – we look to provide true value, returns on investment, and mutually rewarding partnerships with ethical brands for growing international ecommerce and website communications, safely.
If this sounds like the kind of team you’re looking to work with, please do read more about our Full-Service Ecommerce offering…