Family Branding – How to Design Multi-Product Branding Strategies

by Maximilian Claessens
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Family Branding – Designing Multi-Product Branding Strategies

Family branding, also known as umbrella branding, is a marketing strategy that involves a company launching a new line or individual product under a well-established brand name. This approach has proven successful time and time again, and is growing in popularity as a marketing technique. In this article, we’ll be discussing everything there is to know about family branding, including what it is, why it’s important, and how you can design multi-product branding strategies as a business owner or manager. 

What Is Family Branding?

Family branding is the practice of a well-known brand acting as the cornerstone for the promotion of new products that are developed as part of its sub-brands or product lines. The family brand name attracts initial interest in the product, which is then increased through discussion of the sub-brand product. This combination of the sub-brand product and the family brand name introduces the new product to the market in an effective way. Because the success of a product launched in this way usually relies on the reputation of its umbrella brand, it’s important that the umbrella brand is consistently received positively by customers. 

Occasionally, family branding can be confused with mixed branding, a strategy through which brands will develop a line of very similar products, but differentiate them based on different target audiences, in order to achieve a wider reach without having to develop a number of very different products. Family branding doesn’t do this – instead, it uses different products under the same overall umbrella brand, and markets them using the positive reputation of the family brand as leverage.

How Family Branding Works

Branding is important – it builds trust among consumers and is great for your employees, but why does multi-product branding work so well? Family branding is a successful marketing strategy that works for a number of reasons, but its success can be primarily attributed to the way customers receive marketing and advertising techniques. There are some common consumer psychology theories that serve to explain this.

  • Confirmation Bias:

Customers naturally try to reinforce the beliefs they already have, meaning they will try associate the experience they have with a sub-brand to the one they have with an umbrella brand.

  • Categorization Theory:

Research suggests that when shopping for products, consumers try to categorize items based on their past experiences with a product or brand. They then use this categorization to make decisions, as by reducing their doubt around the authenticity or suitability of a product they can rationalize their decision. This means that sub-brands who capitalize on the success or reliability of their umbrella brand prompt customers to group the products into the same category.

By shaping multi-product branding strategies around what is known about consumer psychology, brands can promote their products in a way that drives sales and increases popularity.

Why Is Family Branding Important?

Family branding is important for companies as it provides security in the ever-changing world of business. By developing a uniform line of products that share a common positive reputation, brands can diversify their portfolio, which in turn allows them to weather the storm during slower times. Multi-product branding strategies are also great for companies who want to attract long term investors, as those considering whether or not to buy into a brand’s future success are far more likely to do so if they can see a range of real-world examples of its popularity with consumers.

Benefits Of Family Branding

Family branding comes with some great benefits:

  • Cost Effective:

Thanks to the positive associations that customers make between highly regarded existing brands and the new products that they bring to the market, when launching a new sub-brand, businesses can rely on their family brand to do their advertising for them. This significantly reduces marketing costs, as brands don’t need to invest lots of money into convincing a customer that they are trustworthy or reliable.

  • Safety Net Provision:

In a similar way, brands don’t need to prove their new product in an unknown market if their family brand suggests credibility and effectiveness. This gives new product launches a safety net in the form of their umbrella brand, and leaves sub-brands able to focus on more important details like tracking their marketing metrics or further product development.

Examples Of Family Branding

Some of the biggest brands in the world rely on family branding for their high sales figures and positive reputation. Here are some of the best examples of multi-product branding in action.

Apple

From humble beginnings during the development of its first ever Macintosh computer, over the years Apple have branched out to offer consumers a huge number of sub-brand products. Customers can now visit Apple to buy its most popular product, the iPhone, along with a host of other offerings including the Apple Watch, iPad and Air Pods. By building on the phenomenal reputation that the Macintosh and later the iPhone gave them, Apple have been able to successfully implement a multi-product branding strategy that has paved the way for others to follow.

Samsung

Like Apple, Samsung is a popular brand that capitalizes on its top quality technology. First gaining global recognition for their televisions, Samsung were able to branch out into other product areas like mobile phones and new electronics. Subsequently, one of the best ways to understand the impact of their family branding is to analyse the popularity of the brand’s American style refrigerators – although kitchen appliances have little to do with computing devices, customers can trust that the technology that they include will be top notch, thanks to the positive reputation of the umbrella brand. 

Risks Of Family Branding

Family branding strategies don’t come completely without risk. As with any marketing campaign, there are some elements that can impact the overall success of family branding, such as:

  • Reputation Damage

If an umbrella brand launches a product that does not meet customer expectations, this can damage the overall reputation of the umbrella brand, and the negative reaction can spill over into other areas of the family brand’s product line. This means that one small mistake can have a big impact on a family brand’s overall sales figures and business growth.

  • High Expectations

Multi-product branding strategies work best when a family brand has a glowing reputation. Such a reputation can, however, be a blessing and curse. By using an umbrella brand’s name to launch a sub-brand product, consumer expectations for that product will be high, so there is a lot of pressure for the product to perform perfectly straight away. If not, consumer categorization theory may leave customers associating this failure with other aspects of the family brand.

Despite family branding strategies carrying a degree of risk, the benefits of using multi-product branding are extensive, and this is a great approach to take for popular existing companies trying to branch out into other product areas.

A Guide To Developing Multi-Product Branding Strategies

If you’re a business professional trying to develop a multi-product branding strategy, then you’re not alone. More and more companies are turning to multi-product branding strategies that exist under a brand umbrella to promote their new products, rather than try to launch them under their own unique identity, and with good reason – this approach works! However, we understand that it can be difficult sometimes to nail your multi-product branding strategy, so here are some of our top tips.

Clarify Your Mission Statement

A simple but effective tactic to implement into your multi-product branding strategy is to have a clear mission statement for your family brand – this allows consumers to know that no matter what sub-brand they buy from, they are getting the same high-quality service from a company that shares their values. You can even integrate sub-brand mission statements that outline how they differ from their umbrella brand, and what has fuelled their expansion, to give customers a clearer idea of who they are spending their money with, and why.

Establish A Common Brand Identity

Easily one of the most important elements of any family branding strategy is brand identity. Customers like to shop with brands who share their values, and support causes close to their heart. In fact, studies show that a huge 83% of millennials prefer to buy from brands whose values align with their own. If they experience this with an umbrella brand, then they’ll expect this from a sub-brand too, so closely aligning your sub-brand’s messages with those of its umbrella brand is vital to the strategy’s overall success, and avoids customer confusion if the sub-brands they buy from aren’t on the same page as their overall family brand.

Use Established Marketing Methods

Successful multi-product branding requires a complex strategy that prepares for a range of potential scenarios that can occur as a result of consumer interaction with the family brand. To address this, there are 3 key techniques that you can implement into your strategy based on established marketing methods:

  • Research Your Target Audience

It goes without saying that before you market a product, you should have an awareness of who that product is designed for, so that you can promote it effectively. When a product exists within a multi-product brand line, it’s important that the target audience is identified for the other products within the line, too.

  • Prioritize Appropriately

One you have an understanding of the target audience for each individual product within a multi-product branding strategy, you need to ensure that you prioritize them appropriately. Customers who interact with a family brand regularly may have difficulty deciding which product is the right choice for them if there are any similarities within the line, and could be interested in more than one. When you market to these customers, it’s important to choose just one product based on its importance to your brand and promote it exclusively – this avoids putting doubt in the mind of the consumer and subsequently devaluing both products. 

  • Utilize Positive Crossover

As long as you take the time to prioritize your products appropriately, then there is no harm in making the most out of any positive crossover that arises in your product line. For example, if you sell cosmetics, and your umbrella brand is popular for makeup products, then promoting a new skincare product as part of a family branding strategy is a great way to cross-sell to your existing, engaged target audience.

Prioritize Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the best ways to optimize your multi-product branding strategy. This involves creating unique content that can be deployed across a range of channels to deliver value to customers, such as blog posts, articles or information guides. It’s a good idea to initially release this content on your family brand’s website and social media pages, as this will drive up the value that customers receive, and can in turn improve the perceived value that they will get from sub-brands or individual products in the family brand’s line.

Content marketing can also help bridge the gap between two products under an umbrella brand that might not naturally work well together on the surface. Going back to the earlier example, customers of Samsung mobile phones may have found it difficult to understand the relevance of a refrigerator release, and this had the potential to devalue the overall impression of the brand in their mind. However, by creating compelling content that discussed how Samsung can implement their technology into home appliances to make their customers’ lives easier, they were able to successfully integrate refrigerators into their product line. Marketing through content creation was therefore vital to their success, and the same concept can be applied to a range of different industries when brands use a multi-product branding strategy.

Closing Words

No matter what your goals are for your new product, family branding is a great way to help you grow your business and support your customers as they identify with the brand they know and love. By opting for a marketing strategy that is tried and tested to work and drive customer loyalty, you can be sure that you’ve made the right choice for your next campaign when you choose multi-product branding.

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