Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Relationships Between Brands

Whenever there is a family of brands, as a brand manager, you must make clear what the relationships between those brands are. The relationship can be parent brand/sub-brand or smaller brand endorsed by the parent brand or stand alone brands (unrelated in any way), including the high level brand being a non-consumer facing holding company brand. So, you can choose everything from a branded house (Toyota or Sony) to a house of brands (P&G or Unilever). But choose you must. And it must be a conscious choice. 

I have seen too many instances in which the brand manager does not think through the relationship between the brands and then slaps two or more logos on a product or its packaging. This makes it very confusing for the consumer, especially if the different logos are in different places on the product or packaging. It puts the responsibility on the consumer to figure out what the relationship, if any, is between the multiple brands featured on the product or its packaging. 

Is one brand endorsing another brand? Is one brand brought to you by another brand? Is one of the brands an ingredient brand? Are the different brands co-promoting the product? Do the multiple brands indicate a strategic partnership? Is one brand a parent brand? If so, which one? What is the relationship between the brands?

Not only does it help to lock names in a certain relationship in identity systems, but also to indicate the relationship between the brands using words (especially for endorsed brands). Here are some of the ways I have seen one brand endorse another brand using words:

  • A [brand X] aircraft company
  • A division of [brand X]
  • A [brand X] partner
  • A [brand X] retirement community
  • A [brand X] subsidiary
  • A [brand X] retreat center
  • A [brand X] service center
  • Featuring [brand X] technology
  • With [brand X] inside
  • Brought to you by [brand X] bakeries
  • By [brand X]

The relationship you create between the brands must be intentional and it must work for both brands. The simpler and more clear you can make the relationship, the easier you have made it for the consumer to understand what he or she is buying. Ideally, each brand's marketplace awareness and positive associations strengthens the perceptions of the linked brand. There must be strategic intent behind the chosen linkage. 

Neglecting to create this intentional linkage demonstrates ignorance, laziness or sloppiness. 


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