“A House Brand” verses “A House of Brands”

I’ve recently had cause to consider this age old marketing question, for a client I am working with.  This been a discussion item forever and there are examples of successful strategies on both sides.  The answer for which is better would depend very much on the business involved.  The business size, stage in life cycle and industry are all important determinants of which strategy to follow.

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For the growing business, it would seem there isn’t much choice.  Marketing on a shoestring gets harder when there are multiple brands when there doesn’t need to be.  So, a house brand it is for these firms.

Likewise after a merger or a series of acquisitions, you can be left with a number of product and brand names to be considered.  Everyone has their favorite and making changes can be difficult.  Some of the existing brands will have some brand equity. This is where the house of brands makes sense.

Sometimes, product names have strong brand identification and it makes sense to feature them in a “house of brands” situation.  Consumer product companies have taken this to an extreme, often having more than one brand in a category.  This gives them advantages and a much greater market footprint.

In most situations, however, having a house brand is the way to go.  Here are 4 reasons why this is the case.

It’s hard enough to get a brand started.  The task complicates when there are multiple brands being supported, making it harder (and more expensive) to build a brand.  Focusing all resources on one brand gives you the highest likelihood your brand will take off.

Your brand must be ubiquitous.  Especially early in the brand development, you’ll want you brand (i.e. logo, tagline, message) everywhere it can be.  In all your materials, on your website, as well as your physical products and buildings.  Having more than one brand to support dilutes this, just when your brand needs help getting launched.

It’s a decision that can be reversed.  Decisions can always be made down the road to feature products as brands of enhance a sub-brand, but too many brands too early can take valuable branding resources away from the main brand.

Having one brand promotes focus.  One of the key elements of launching a brand is focus.  Keep the story short and consistent.  Make sure it follows the brand well.  Feature it often.  With one brand to support this all, execution is easy; with more than one brand, a challenge.

This is a very basic question for the emerging or growing company and an important one.  Many companies never really have the discussion, it just happens.  But at some point decisions are made and executed on.

What is the state of your brand?  Does your brand need an update?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/

Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm

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