Branding in Oil and Gas | Finding the Right Brand Model for Your Multiple Brands

    Positioning a company with multiple brands is never an easy task. Determining which brand is primary, and creating a marketing plan for each brand can sometimes prove difficult. At times, the brand that was expected to do well ends up being a sub-brand to another and a parent brand company has to start looking at different ways of positioning their brands so all represented brands can be competitive.

    In our last blog, we talked about possible reasons a company would want to consider reviewing and making changes to their brand architecture. In this edition, we will talk about the different structures that are generally used when creating that brand architecture.

    Branded House

    This is a common model used by small and medium-sized companies or companies that have a well-known parent brand. Also known as Umbrella Brand or Master Brand, in this model, the Master Brand is linked to the products and sub-products. A good example of this is Apple. The Apple brand has a solid reputation and is well-known, so when Apple releases a new product people take note. Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, Apple iPod – all are officially separate brands, but are very recognizable through the Apple brand.

    When you have a strong parent brand, this is often the best strategy. You can devote all your resources to the same brand, instead having to split it among multiple teams.

    House of Brands

    This model focuses on building completely independent brands and products, while the parent brand stands by. Rarely do you see any mention of the parent brand, except for a small logo on the back of the packaging. Newell is a fantastic example of this architecture. You will recognize many of their sub-brands, including Crock-pot, Coleman, Sharpie, Rubbermaid, and Rawlings. Newel stands aside, silently supporting their sub-brands, but letting the brands themselves stand on their own.

    This model is used mainly by larger corporations that have the resources to develop individual brands. Some smaller companies are making this model work for them with great success, but often budget constraints prevent this from happening on a larger scale.

    Endorsed Brands

    In this model, each individual brand is loosely connected to the parent brand. The parent brand is present in all marketing tactics and communications, but allows each brand to have its own unique identity. Marriott is famous for using this structure in their hotel chains – Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Springhill Suites by Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott.

    This strategy works well when you have a strong parent brand, willing to endorse the other brands, helping them grow and prosper. The endorsement by the parent brand solidifies their standing in the marketplace.


    Some corporations choose to use this model, which combines all three of the above strategies. These companies use this structure when they are acquiring a new brand, or when they are restructuring their current brands. Large corporations generally have the resources to manage the relationships between brands, and are able to dedicate the time needed to each brand. Microsoft uses a hybrid model for their architecture. They have their main brand, their endorsed brands, such as Microsoft Office, and they also have individual brands, like Skype, in the mix.

    How to Find Which Model Works for Your Company

    Building your brand architecture requires analysis of your company. By asking yourself the right questions, and having solid answers, you will quickly discover which model fits your company. Ask yourself some of these questions

    • Does your main brand have a history? Does it have a solid, loyal customer base?
    • Are your new products targeting the same customer base? Are your new products going to interfere in any way with your main brand? If so, how?
    • If you have multiple brands, what is the value of bringing them together?

    Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be able to start looking into your brand architecture more clearly. Use these answers to create a roadmap for your brand architecture. List your products and brands, and the benefits of each. List the target audience. Take time to think about which brands make sense to group together, if any, and why.

    Managing Your Brands

    Once you’ve decided on a brand architecture for your company, you will need to implement a plan to manage these brands. Strategic decisions will need to be made on how the brands are going to be managed and resourced.

    Some things that will need to be taken into consideration when looking at resourcing are:

    Website Structure. Your brand architecture will dictate one website or multiple, one for each brand. Your website structure will have a big impact on your search results in a search engine, your online sales, and the attention your site gets from the public. You will have to determine if you will be managing this website architecture, or if you will outsource it to a strategic partner for management.

    Social Media Structure. Understanding the organization of social media is crucial for a company’s success. Knowing the proper way to organize your different brands and their social media presence will make your company a social media success. You may want to consider separate accounts for each brand, or have one corporate account that will encompass everything. Managing each of these accounts will become a large task in someone’s day.

    Traditional Marketing. Items such as brochures, trade show materials, and other media will need to be created and maintained. Marketing campaigns will need to be decided on for each brand, or again, using corporate as an umbrella. These campaigns may need independent resources for each brand, so that proper amount of time can be allocated to the tasks at hand. Many companies choose to outsource this task to a partner, freeing up the time of their employees.

    All of your marketing decisions contribute to the unity of your branding architecture. Each brand must be aware of what the other is doing and how it affects them. When you manage all aspects of this architecture correctly, you experience success, and you know your brand architecture has come together correctly.