Creating a Sub-Brand: What is a Sub-Brand?

If you are in marketing, you may have heard the term sub-branding once or twice and found yourself asking, “what is a sub-brand?” It’s not as complicated as it sounds. A sub-brand is essentially a brand within a brand – a parent brand to be exact, sometimes called an umbrella or family brand. These parent brands often find themselves creating a sub-brand to add a second or subsidiary brand as an opportunity to grow their business and ultimately reach a new or different audience. 

Although the parent brand and sub-brand are still closely related, the sub-brand traits are often distinct. They sometimes include a different color palette, typography, imagery, logo, and standards to reflect a separate brand identity. They typically have defined customer expectations and characteristics but still represent the same values and overarching messaging of the parent brand.

Sub-Brand Examples

Sub-brands can be potent tools for those in the marketing arena. They are an opportunity for a parent brand to reach an entirely new consumer pool while maintaining its current position in the industry. The chief purpose of creating a sub-brand is growth. Instead of forfeiting one business to take on another, it’s maintaining that business while expanding and pursuing a whole new opportunity. Some successful sub-brand examples include:

  • Fiat Chrysler → Jeep
  • Toyota → Prius
  • Samsung → Galaxy
  • Microsoft → Xbox
  • Amazon → Alexa
  • Apple → iPhone

Pros & Cons of Creating a Sub-Brand

By creating a sub-brand, you help establish loyalty and trust while increasing exposure to the primary brand. There’s no question that the buyers who put their trust in a parent brand will be more likely to trust in a subsidiary brand and be more willing to try out a new product or service of theirs.

However, there are some disadvantages, too. These include the costs of promoting, marketing, and maintaining an entirely new business entity. Occasionally, a sub-brand will fail, negatively impacting the parent brand’s overall public perception, affecting trust, loyalty, and, ultimately, any further business. Negative consumer experiences can damage both brand images. 

Here are some essential questions to ask when thinking about creating a sub-brand:

  • Will my parent brand profit from a sub-brand?
  • Why is it necessary? Is there a demand?
  • Is a sub-brand fitting or “on-brand” with my parent business?
  • Are there adequate resources to maintain and advertise it?

Though they differ in various ways, the parent brand and a sub-brand work together toward a common goal. By choosing to expand with a sub-brand, you decide to set your company apart from your competitors. When done correctly and mindfully, you set your business up for long-term success. Brand/sub-brand. Win/win.

Developing a successful brand, or sub-brand, for your company or product can be an invigorating and insightful journey of discovery. At Serendipit, we have created a series of fun and informative exercises that are designed to lead us to the discovery of your “Why”. Get in touch with us and tell us what you want to achieve with your brand!