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Branding Strategies

    Branding Strategies

    A branding strategy helps establish a product within the market and to build a brand that will grow and mature. Making smart branding decisions up front is crucial since a company may have to live with their decisions for a long time. The following are commonly used branding strategies:

    “Branded House” Strategy

    A “branded house” strategy (sometimes called a “house brand”) uses a a strong brand—typically the company name—as the identifying brand name for a range of products (for example, Mercedes Benz or Black & Decker) or a range of subsidiary brands (such as Cadbury Dairy Milk or Cadbury Fingers). Because the primary focus and investment is in a single, dominant “house” brand, this approach can be simpler and more cost effective in the long run when it is well aligned with broader corporate strategy.

    “House of Brands” Strategy

    A giant pitcher of kool-aid with a happy face.

    Kool-Aid Man

    With the “house of brands” strategy, a company invests in building out a variety of individual, product-level brands. Each of these brands has a separate name and may not be associated with the parent company name at all. These brands may even be in de facto competition with other brands from the same company. For example, Kool-Aid and Tang are two powdered beverage products, both owned by Kraft Foods. The “house of brands” strategy is well suited to companies that operate across many product categories at the same time. It allows greater flexibility to introduce a variety of different products, of differing quality, to be sold without confusing the consumer’s perception of what business the company is in or diluting brand perceptions about products that target different tiers or types of consumers within the same product category.

    Competitive Multi-Brand Strategy

    In a very saturated market, a supplier can deliberately launch totally new brands in apparent competition with its own existing strong brand (and often with identical product characteristics) to soak up some of the share of the market. The rationale is that having three out of twelve brands in such a market will give a greater overall share than having one out of ten. Procter & Gamble is a leading exponent of this philosophy, running as many as ten detergent brands in the U.S. market. In 2015, hotel giant Marriott International operated sixteen different hotel chains across different pricing tiers, including some chains that compete with one another directly. A sampling of these includes Fairfield Inn, Springhill Suites, Residence Inn, Courtyard, Marriott, JW Marriott, and The Ritz Carlton, among others.

    Cannibalization is a particular problem with the multi-brands-strategy. As will be discussed further in the product marketing module, cannibalization occurs when the new brand takes business away from an established one, which the organization also owns. This may be acceptable (indeed expected) if there is a net gain overall.

    Brand Families, or “Umbrella Branding”

    Similar to a “branded house” strategy, a brand family uses a single brand name for multiple products. However, brand families–also called umbrella branding–may also be used in a “house of brands” strategy to extend the reach of some of the company’s brands. For instance, consumer products powerhouse Procter & Gamble manages many popular brands including Tide (laundry detergent), Pampers (disposable diapers), Ivory (soap), and Olay (skin care and beauty products) among many others. Each of these brands constitutes its own family, with multiple products carrying the same brand name.

    Attitude Branding and Iconic Brands

    Attitude branding is a strategy of representing the larger feeling that a brand comes to embody. The idea is that the brand’s feeling or “attitude” transcends the specific products being consumed. Examples of companies that use this approach effectively include:

    • Nike: “Just do it”
    • Apple: “Think different”
    • Harley Davidson: “Live to Ride”
    • Starbucks: “Daily Inspiration”

    Effective attitude branding can transform strong brands into iconic, “lifestyle” brands that contribute to the consumer’s self-expression and personal identity.

    Component Branding

    The words intel inside enclosed in a stylized circle

    Some suppliers of important product or manufacturing components try to guarantee positions of preference by promoting these components as brands in their own right. For example, Intel created competitive advantage for itself in the PC market with the slogan (and famous sticker) “Intel Inside.”

    Private-Label or Store Branding

    Also called store branding, private-label branding has become increasingly popular. In cases where the retailer has a particularly strong identity, the private label may be able to compete against even the strongest brand leaders and may outperform those products that are not otherwise strongly branded. The northeastern U.S. grocery chain Wegman’s offers many grocery products that carry the Wegman’s brand name. Meanwhile national grocery chain Safeway offers several different private label “store” brands: Safeway Select, Organics, Signature Cafe, and Primo Taglio, among others.[1]

    “No-Brand” Branding

    A number of companies successfully pursue “no-brand” strategies by creating packaging that imitates generic-brand simplicity. “No brand” branding can be considered a type of branding since the product is made conspicuous by the absence of a brand name. “Tapa Amarilla” or “Yellow Cap” in Venezuela during the 1980s is a prime example of no-brand strategy. It was recognized simply by the color of the cap of this cleaning products company.

    Personal and Organizational Brands

    A line of hikers walking through a forest. Outings. Sierra Club. Quote from John Muir The mountains are calling, and I must go.

    Personal and organizational branding are strategies for developing a brand image and marketing engine around individual people or groups. Personal branding treats persons and their careers as products to be branded and sold to target audiences. Organizational branding promotes the mission, goals, and/or work of the group being branded. The music and entertainment industries provide many examples of personal and organizational branding. From Justin Bieber to George Clooney to Kim Kardashian, virtually any celebrity today is a personal brand. Likewise, bands, orchestras, and other artistic groups typically cultivate an organizational (or group) brand. Faith branding is a variant of this brand strategy, which treats religious figures and organizations as brands seeking to increase their following. Mission-driven organizations such the Girl Scouts of America, the Sierra Club, the National Rifle Association (among millions of others) pursue organizational branding to expand their membership, resources, and impact.

    Crowd-Sourced Branding

    Crowd-sourced branding is the phenomenon of brands being created “by the people” for the business, which is the opposite of how branding traditionally works (business create the brands). This method minimizes the risk of brand failure, since the people who might reject the brand are the ones involved in the branding process. The drawback is that the business cannot fully control these brands, because they are the product of crowd sourcing and, in effect, are owned by “the crowd.”

    Timbers Army Portland. No pity. Two crossed axes behind a rose. In the background is a sun with sunbeams coming out and the initials CR.

    An interesting example of crowd-sourced branding is the Timbers Army, the independent fan organization of the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer (MLS) Team. The Timbers Army was created by fans, and it operates independently from the MLS team and the Portland Timbers management. Although the organizations coordinate in many areas, ultimately the fan organization gets to assert and control its own brand identity.

    Place Branding and Nation Branding

    The developing fields of place branding and nation branding work on the assumption that places compete with other places to win over people, investment, tourism, economic development, and other resources. With this in mind, public administrators, civic leaders, and business groups may team up to “brand” and promote their city, region, or nation among target audiences. Depending on the goals they are trying to achieve, targets for these marketing initiatives may be real-estate developers, employers and business investors, tourists and tour/travel operators, and so forth. While place branding may focus on any given geographic area or destination, nation branding aims to measure, build, and manage the reputation of countries.

    The city-state Singapore is an early, successful example of nation branding. The edgy Las Vegas “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaign, shown in in the following video, is a well-known example of place branding.

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