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Brad VanAuken Branding: Just Ask...

Brand Strategy: Uniting Multiple Brands Under One

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Brand Strategy Telecom Brand Architecture

Today on Branding Strategy Insider, another brand strategy question from the BSI Emailbag. Bakhtier, a brand manager from a telecommunications company in Uzbekistan asks: 

"The Backgound: We have a parent company, let's say Parent Telecom. First, they founded an internet service provider PST (offering internet connections (xDSL) for B2B and B2C). The PST (let's say Pure System Technologies) brand is very popular among B2C and has the second biggest market share. 3 years ago they also founded a wireless internet service provider REVO. They only offer internet connectivity through WiMax standard. They charge a premium price, where PST is perceived to be medium price. The Parent Telecom also provides services in Telecomunication (IP Telephone, VoIP, Interactive TV). The Parent Telecom brand is not very popular among customers. 

The Question: Now Parent Telecom wants to unite the three brands under one brand. I am in charge of this process. Should I merge all three brands in one brand, Parent Telecom (or PT), or should I find another name for the unified brand?" 

Thank you for your question, Bakhtier. When considering going from three brands to one, it is important to understand the awareness levels and associations for each of the brands for each of your organization's target audiences. You will need to quantify this to determine which brand will be the most advantageous to use as the single brand. Sometimes one of the sub-brands has higher awareness and more positive associations than the parent brand and ultimately is the best candidate to become the singular brand. It is important that the brand that is chosen has positive associations (or at least does not have negative associations) in all product/service categories and with all target audiences. You will need to communicate heavily that the brands that people previously knew (that are going away) have taken on a new brand identity. This is no trivial matter. People will need to hear this message at least seven to twelve times for it to encode in the mind.

This can be accomplished through marketing communication alone or through that and a transitional brand identity system that signals the change. I don't know if going to one brand is a "fait accompli," but if it is not, you might consider a parent brand/sub-brand architecture or even an endorsed brand strategy (in which the sub-brand is endorsed by the parent brand). You mentioned that the parent brand is not very popular among customers. If that is because its awareness is low, that can be fixed fairly easily through increased communication. If it is because it has negative associations, that is more difficult to fix. Negative associations often have underlying product, service or operational problems that can't be fixed by creating a new brand identity. In those situations, the underlying problems need to be addressed. I hope this helps. I wish you much success in your rebranding project.

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