We all know the recession has drastically impacted consumer behaviors, but we may often overlook its direct impact on brands themselves. The recession has changed the way marketers manage their brand portfolios as they try to do more with less. As such, marketers are taking a closer look at how then can stretch existing brand equity across a greater number of products, often taking a parent brand/sub-brand approach.
We generally see four different sub-brand approaches, each with their own benefits and risks:
1. Driver Sub-Brands—A driver sub-brand encourages purchase decisions by representing the value proposition central to the user experience. The parent brand endorses the sub-brand—but it’s the sub-brand that defines the consumer’s perceptions of the product or service experience and proves the primary driver motivating consumer purchase.
Take the Gillette Fusion razor. Customers primarily buy the technology and performance represented by the Fusion name. Fusion is the driver brand while Gillette creates a strong identity and clear visibility for the Fusion name on the package, retail rack, and in consumers’ minds. As you might guess, if a company is going to take a driver sub-branding approach, then the sub-brand must generate real response to its entrance in the marketplace to succeed.
2. Co-Driver Sub-Brands—In this case both the parent brand and the sub-brand play major—and often equal—roles in driving the consumer toward purchase.
Cadillac’s Escalade sub-brand serves as a co-driver, as both the Cadillac and Escalade brand names influence consumers’ purchase decisions. While consumers associate the Cadillac name with top of the line performance, quality, and style, the Escalade brand compounds that image with the slightly rugged, more versatile associations of a sports utility vehicle. Cadillac marketers leverage the associations of both driver brands to command market share in the luxury