July 21, 2020
Do you ever wonder how big, beautiful brands create new products, offerings, or specialties meant for specific audiences or groups of people? Are you curious how they seem to do it all without diluting their main, highly identifiable brand?
It’s called sub-branding and, yes, you can do it, too.
A sub-brand is another arm of your business’s brand that appeals to a specific audience within your existing audience. It could apply to any customer touchpoint or “family” of offerings, whether it’s a product, service, event, app, or partnership.
Here are a couple great examples:
Their products are color-coded based on their physiological benefits.
Warby Parker released their new line of contact lenses, Scout, last year and developed a specific pattern and set of icons that only appear on contacts-specific web pages and packaging.
It’s not just limited to product-based businesses, either! While these are just a couple examples may have seen IRL, there are a ton of ways to apply sub-branding to your service-based business or online offers.
A sub-brand is especially useful when you want to speak to a specific part of your audience, like Adidas Women does with runners, yogis, and other athletic groups. For you, that might mean creating a sub-brand for a course that is specific to a subset of your audience. It might be used to promote a collection of jewelry specific to your religious customers, or to help you support a specific cause.
However, a sub-brand isn’t wildly different from your main brand. Instead, sub-brands share nearly all of the same visuals and designs as their parent brands so that they’re easily recognizable. But they might have a specific set of brand colors that they use, a specific type of layout or style, or a specific decorative touch or theme.
Planner companies might sub-brand their line of business- or lifestyle-specific products.
A business coach might sub-brand their signature in-person event.
A service provider might sub-brand their online course, or their highest-value service.
As you can see, sub-brands are an exceptional way to target a specific offer or service to your niche audience. However, they’re not always necessary. In general, it’s a great idea to create a sub-brand if you’ll be doing significantly more content-creation and promotion specific to your sub-brand than other parts of your business.
Let’s say you’re a product-based business with ten products. You don’t need to create a sub-brand from every freakin’ product. Instead, you may want to sub-brand your signature product (product 1 of 10) since you’ll likely be talking about it much more than your nine other accessories. If your sub-brand encompasses a family of products in your lineup, like Write the Word, that’s another great reason to take this approach.
If you don’t plan to promote your service or product as a signature offer, or to create a lot of content that leads to it, a sub-brand might be overkill. Another note: If you find yourself wanting to create a highly unique brand for your offer, it might be time to assess your happiness with your current “umbrella brand” and business.
How do you know when to sub-brand or when to just start a new brand? Or maybe even a new business? It’s all in the “sub” prefix: Does this sub-brand fall under and within what you already do? Does the sub-brand you want to create reflect the brand you’ve already got in place?
If you can answer yes to all of the questions below, you’ve got a sub-brand. If you answer no to many of them, it’s time to think about a re-brand… or a new business and brand, respectively.
While your main business’s brand might give the warm-and-fuzzies, it can be hard to know how to create a unique identity for a signature offer. Even with an existing brand identity, you might not be sure how to stretch that brand into other assets.
You need to create new + amazing things for your brand, but it might start to feel messy and disjointed when you apply your umbrella brand to your new or signature offer. If you’re nodding your head, it sounds like it’s time to hop into the Brand Lab. Grab your goggles!
The Balanced Brand Lab Kit is a do-it-yourself branding workshop where you’ll build a personalized and balanced brand (or sub-brand!) formula that will guide all your design decisions. Make your own style guide and find your sub-brand’s colors, fonts, photography, and more!
You can also use the Balanced Brand Lab Kit for your umbrella brand and any sub-branding you need, so you can get clear on which style applies to your whole business and which apply to your snazzy signature offers.
If you want that kind of clarity on your brand and sub-brands AND want to see more chemistry between your audience and your offers, check out the Balanced Brand Lab Kit.