Written by Canon Wing

I teach entrepreneurs and organizations the proven action steps to stand out within their market, improve the perceived value of their business, and better connect with their audience through naming, branding, storytelling, and communication platforms.

January 21, 2022

Is Sub-Branding the Way Forward for Your Brand

Are Sub-brands Good for Your Brand?

Quick question – which brand would you say commands greater loyalty: Apple or Samsung? What is your answer off the top of your head? I’d like you to answer instinctively without going into the whole Android versus iOS debate. Chances are, you answered Apple. For sheer single-minded, unquestioning, and steadfast brand loyalty Apple wins out over Samsung every time! Why do you think this is? Would it surprise you to know that this has to do with a fundamental principle of branding: sub-branding?

What is sub-branding?

Sub branding is a step subsequent to the establishment of the main brand; in other words a brand extension of something that now becomes an ‘umbrella’ brand.  So here we have a successful brand that then uses its identifiability and marketability to launch more products; under sub-brands. The understanding is that the brand loyalty transfers seamlessly from the umbrella brand to the sub-brand or brands.

For instance, if you like Cadbury chocolates then you are more likely to choose a new chocolate with the brand name Cadbury than some other new product with which you are completely unfamiliar. Cadbury’s longstanding market presence and popularity stand the new product in good stead here. However, as a brand-builder, I would caution businesses against opting blindly for sub-branding.

Ask yourself whether sub-branding helps grow your brand or does it dilute brand promise? Examine whether a new sub-brand is consistent with your brand image or whether it could result in confusion. If sub-branding seems like a good idea for you and your brand, you may want to check out this video [INSERT LINK] where I address the issue of sub-branding in greater detail.

Pros and cons of sub-branding

In theory, there are many pros to the sub-branding exercise. A new product with the same name (or part of the name), a similar color scheme, logo, and product type as an existing product will be familiar to the customer. The buyer is now more willing to trust that new product because of that familiarity. So, if the brand launches say, a new lower cost product, the brand has successfully reached market segments it wasn’t tapping into earlier. If the subsequent sub brand product turns out to be as good as the original product, this enhances overall brand loyalty. All is good so far.

But do you think this happens all of the time? Does the sub branding exercise really justify the cost outlay and effort involved? I think the answer would surprise you. Coming back to Apple and Samsung, the brand loyalty for these two umbrella brands is quite different. While Apple comes out with the iPhone along with two or three variants each year, Samsung has phones of several sub-brands such as Galaxy, Duo, Ace, and so on. Each new Apple launch is an event and the world takes notice. It is straightforward with Apple – brand loyalists will do anything to grab hold of any new offering. On the other hand, there is confusion with Samsung. A buyer has to really sit down and check price points vis-à-vis features of each phone in its various sub-brands. What do you think is the chance that the buyer will move away from Samsung altogether? Do you think this could be the case with Apple? You’ll learn exactly what, how, and why from this video https://youtu.be/vlaD-77meTk

Check it out to know more about sub-branding and why sub-branding can make or break a brand as I explore other sub-branding case studies such as those of Holiday Inn, FedEx & Virgin. Find out if sub-branding is for you. Learn how it can help grow your brand when done right, but how it could also gut your brand when done wrong.