We’ve done lots of branding and marketing for businesses in and around Essex and I’ve found that most small businesses don’t take full advantage of branding for their business.
They get a logo and website designed, and think that that’s their branding done. Having a logo and website designed is a good start but not really enough to make branding useful as a marketing tool. What these small businesses lack is a branding strategy with the use of sub-brands.
I found that many small businesses in Essex think that a branding strategy and sub-branding are for big businesses only but that’s not true. I run a branding agency in Essex and my clients come in all shapes and sizes, from all over the place and from my overall experience I’ve found that it’s the smaller or even micro businesses that make the most use and success out of sub-branding.
The term sub-brand sounds like an easily understandable yet corporate concept because of the examples that we see daily. On a corporate level sub-branding could be seen as using an established brand to launch another brand.
eg. Virgin -> Virgin Atlantic -> Virgin money -> Virgin mobile -> Virgin media
Virgin make it work very well because their an established company with a big reputable name but more often than not sub-brands using the same name don’t work out too well especially if you’re a small business.
Small businesses usually don’t have the brand power to pull off a sub-brand in the same way but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the sub-brand work for you because you don’t have to trade directly off of a mother-brand.
Naming & strategy for small business sub-branding:
Brand Naming plays a big part in sub-branding and small businesses often make a mistake to take the mother-brand and use it for the sub-brand. In general people think its a way to create brand power for the mother-brand but in essence it should be the other way around and that can only be achieved if you already have brand power.
Using the same name can work but it depends on the nature and relationship of the two brands. If it’s a simply extension of the business with a good link then its possible but if your creating a new business it’s wise not to relate it back to your existing one as a sub-brand.
Your best bet is to create something BRAND new altogether.
Ask these questions to find out about your sub-branding opportunities:
1. Will the mother-brand & sub brand create confusion amongst for your Target audience?
2. Is the mother-brand limited to sub branding opportunities?
3.Will the mother-brand & sub brand lead to a conflict in interests?
The art of SEO & sub-branding.
Despite my comments of small businesses using wrong tactics to sub brand many excel with the help of the internet and SEO, in fact its small businesses which have pushed sub-branding to another level.
I’ve seen small businesses using several websites with different names to sell one service in a different light. With the use of keywords they have practically created several separate identities for one business. They’ve been able to reach wider audiences and capitalise on the sub brand. Some have been done very quickly and lightly with the intention of pulling in a sale without the full brand values whilst others have gone all out to create a pure sub brand as an extension of a mother-brand.
Sub-branding may sound like big business requiring brand power but it doesn’t. At the most basic level it just requires a little creativity, business acumen and clear thinking to make it work for smaller businesses.
How to get started with sub-branding a small business?
First thing to decide s whether you actually need a sub-brand?
Just think of your business in another light? Think of another target market that you want to reach and adapt your values & image to suit them. Categorise your existing clients according to their different industries as well as their size. Create an additional brand to target them individually and you’ll have the makings of a small business sub-brand.
Sub-branding for small businesses is basically making an effort to package something up or a case or repackaging something differently to make it stand out.
Need help with your branding? Get in touch.