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Brand Architecture: Linking Sub-Brands


Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. To that end we’re happy to answer your marketing questions. Today we hear from Nafisa, a Vice President of Marketing in Khartoum, Sudan who has this brand architecture question…

 “I have a brand architecture question about creating the link between a sub brand and the holding company or group. What is the best or proper way to show that link in the logo, for example: 

(sub brand) from (parent brand) or (sub brand) part of (parent brand) group

 The objective is to clearly establish the relationship between the two brands while highlighting the parent brand as the holding company. Your advice is highly appreciated.”

Thank you for your question Nafisa. There is no one preferred way for a brand to be endorsed by its holding company or group. While many brands use the following phrases, there are notable exceptions: “A division of [parent brand],” “A subsidiary of [parent brand],” or “A [parent brand] company.” For instance Shoebox chose “A tiny little division of Hallmark” to imply a renegade or “skunk works” group loosely affiliated with Hallmark Cards.

They did this because Shoebox’s humor was much more edgy than the humor typically found on Hallmark cards at the time. When Raytheon bought the “Beechcraft” and “Hawker” aircraft brands (it subsequently sold both brands), it endorsed them with “Raytheon Aircraft Company.” I like this approach because it clarifies the exact nature of the relationship between the brands and what type of company the endorsed brands represent.

I have seen some brands use “A [parent brand] affiliate.” I don’t like this as much because the relationship between the two brands is ambiguous. The intent in all of this is to link both brands and to be clear about what the link between the two brands is. I would evaluate the endorsing phrase against how short, simple and precise (about the relationship between the two brands) it is.

Nafisa, best of luck in building your brand. You can find more on the sometimes complex topic of brand architecture here.

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1 Comment

Joe McFadden
Twitter: salesportal
on April 15th, 2013 said

I think it also depends on how much you want the parent brand to influence perception of the sub-brand. For instance, Toyota owns Lexus but you never hear about that, because Lexus is supposed to be a luxury brand, which is something Toyota isn’t. On the other hand, sometimes the parent brand actually lends credence to the sub-brand, in which case you’d want the association to be obvious.

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