February 23, 2024

What Is a Sub-Brand?

As your business grows, you may be thinking about adding new products to your portfolio to better serve your customers. One option is to create a sub-brand. Sub-brands are brand extensions that share the character, values and brand heritage of their parent company but have enough unique qualities to appeal to a specific audience. When used poorly, sub brands can confuse and overwhelm consumers, but when done well, they can help companies build stronger connections with niche audiences and enter new markets while maintaining the credibility and strength of their parent brand.

The most common way to use a sub-brand is as a product line or service that differentiates within the company’s overall portfolio. For example, Ford has the Focus, Taurus and Mustang as separate product lines that all share a similar design language but appeal to different market segments. This strategy allows companies to test out new ideas and see if they are successful before committing to a full rollout under their main brand.

In other cases, a sub-brand might be created to address a specific challenge for the parent company. For example, Volkswagen’s Audi, Seat and VW models each appeal to a different market segment, but all use the same engineering and share the Volkswagen name and reputation. Sub-brands can also be used to protect the parent brand from negative associations by isolating a particularly controversial or polarizing product. Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Xbox are examples of this strategy.

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