Game Changers: An Umbrella Approach to a Bolder Brand Presence

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Umbrella branding is something you may not have heard of yet, but it’s becoming an important way to market your business. Here’s what you need to know to get up to speed on the changing landscape we call marketing.


What Is It?

A brand umbrella is a way to consolidate your company’s products under one overarching theme or brand name. Many brand umbrellas use similar-sounding names, or prefixes for names, which help reinforce the “mother brand” or the company name itself.

Attracting new customers and getting higher sales volume requires a lot of capital. If you have several different products or services, it’s getting harder and harder to market each of those because of the additional capital required to get the brand name out there.

If every product or service has a different name, and is seen differently by the marketplace, the costs can become overwhelming. This is where a brand umbrella can help.

A brand umbrella creates a bridge between existing products and services and new products and services.

This is sometimes referred to as “family branding.”

When done properly, it creates a large brand name, and brand equity, under which many products and services exist.

It’s not as easy to put together as it sounds, however. To pull off brand umbrellas, a company needs to coordinate all individual brands and unify them. Successful brand umbrellas leverage the success of a few products, however, and can drive sales on relatively obscure, or less popular brands. Check out our post on the Top 10 Digital Branding Trends For 2015 before we get stuck into some examples.

Some Examples To Get You Thinking

Apple Computers is a master at the brand umbrella concept. Take its software and hardware products. Its iWork and iLife suite unifies several different software applications into one family brand.

iWork consists of Numbers, Pages, and Keynote. Even if users aren’t familiar with one or two of the applications, the strength of the app they are familiar with tends to carry over to the less recognizable apps. Think of it as “good by association.”

For example, if an individual is used to working in iWork Pages (Apple’s word processor), but is not familiar with Numbers (its spreadsheet application), there’s less resistance to using Numbers than there otherwise would be because Numbers is part of iWork.

Microsoft does the same thing with its Office suite.

But, on the hardware front, Apple has parlayed the brand umbrella or family branding into a multi-billion-dollar company, flush with cash.

Its mobile products all tend to follow the same format: iPhone, iPad, iPod.

Its desktop products have a similar theme: Macbook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air.

When customers shop for hardware, they’re more likely to consider Apple’s other core hardware offerings based on their previous experiences with products with a similar name. For example, if an individual purchases a Macbook, and loves using it, that same individual will probably be more open to considering other similar products, like the Macbook Pro or the Macbook Air. Even ists Mac Pro follows the same family name.

Apple’s new Apple Watch, and its Apple TV product line fall under a different product umbrella.

But, in every case, one product strengthens the others. And, it’s easy to cross over between families, because the “mother brand” – Apple – is backing all of the products. In other words, the consumer trust in one brand family (i.e. iPad, iPhone, iPod) can transfer over into another family (Macbook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air).

How To Market Your Brand Umbrella

Marketing your brand family can be more challenging than marketing individual products in the beginning stages, because there’s not much of a reputation built up around core product or service lines.

Usually, you need a good to get you off the ground if you’re marketing goods and services online.

And, sometimes, having a brand family can backfire. For example, Nestle’s brand was negatively affected by its Maggi product, which was found to contain a high lead content. Not only was Maggi hurt, but the Nestle brand itself was hurt.

If you decide to build a brand umbrella, you need to think long-term, and create a strong base of core products or services.

You also need to think about how the core offerings can evolve over time, how you can improve on your value proposition, and how each product will build on the previous one. Linking products together, you need to work harder to protect each product or service offering, making sure that it is not introduced into the marketplace without substantial support.

Companies that often fail in building a good brand umbrella do so because of a lack of back-end customer support, infrastructure to support the growing family, or lack of testing and continuity among individual products or services.

Anthony Yap is the principal search marketing consultant at eBusiness Masters with over ten years experience in successfully ranking websites in the top of the search engines. His technical background in computer engineering makes him ideally suited to understand what the search engines want. As a successful business consultant, he also knows the various intricacies and unique aspects of a business and custom tailors a web marketing plan for each company.

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Author: mavrikos panos

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