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Managing Multiple Brands

Sometimes, staying focused on building your core brand and simply having product categories but no sub-brands is the right approach, it all depends on how much time, money and energy you have.

Anton Ressel




For many of us, nurturing and growing just one brand is enough to keep us busy 24/7, especially when thrown into the pot of operational issues, orders, financial record keeping, marketing, sales etc.

Imagine that you had two, three, five or even ten brands to nurture and market – you may start to feel like the Old Woman who Lived in the Shoe…

Related: With the Right Incentives Loyal Customers Will Become Brand Advocates

Fortunately, there are a few tried and tested strategies to make managing multiple brands a lot less challenging. In addition, it is a space that allows for quite a bit of creativity and out of the box thinking and that is always great, especially for those of you who have that Right Brain way of thinking.

What are Multiple Brands?

To start, let’s assess what we are talking about when we speak of multiple brands, sub-brands and the like. Think of a company like Reckitt Benckiser (RB). You may or may not have heard of them, they are the ‘parent company’ of such famous brands as Vanish detergent, Nurofen pain pills, Clearasil, Strepsils and Dettol, amongst many others.

Their umbrella brand (namely Reckitt Benckiser itself) is marketed under the slogan ‘Health. Hygiene. Home.’, while their sub-brands are marketed in their own individual ways depending on a number of factors, such as target market, desired brand position, pricing strategy and so on.

I would imagine that their total marketing budget for the year is more than the GDP of many countries, and over and above that, consider for a moment the resources and focus needed to globally market vastly different products to completely different target markets, such as pain tablets versus French mustard…

Clearly RB is an extreme case. However, in your own reality you may be faced with the challenge of having to market several very different products or services under an ‘umbrella’ or parent brand, so how do you best go about it to ensure no brand dilution or worse, the creation of confusion in the marketplace. Let’s explore some multiple branding do’s and dont’s:

Look after the Mother Ship

It all starts with the core brand in my eyes. This is where you build credibility as an honest/trustworthy/funky/hip/cutting edge/innovative/conservative/progressive or whatever other kind of business you want to be portrayed as. Look at financially focused businesses such as Old Mutual or Allan Gray.

Their core focus is always on establishing a desired brand position in the eyes of their overall target market – whether it be trustworthy, reliable, progressive or whatever.

Below that come the various products and services that they offer, and these are marketed in ways appropriate to the audience (consider the different approach between selling a student loan product versus a Retirement Annuity as but one example). So, the lesson is – one consistent and powerful message from the Ttp, and target-market appropriate messages for the sub brands/products themselves.

Be Consistent

A second important lesson, is to remain consistent in your messaging as much as is feasibly possible. We instantly recognise a Nando’s advert, no matter what the product being promoted is, because they have an overall brand style and approach and stick to this, whether they happen to be selling a new healthy meal or a super-hot version of one of their existing products.

In my own experience with a craft and design business I started with two other partners, namely Streetwires, we developed several range categories into which our different products were categorised, such as the Street, Collection and Signature Series ranges.

The branding and visual identity of each product category was slightly different but still instantly recognisable as Streetwires – for example the Street range was branded brightly (the packaging was loud and fun and in your face), while the Collection range was done in a much more refined manner with black, silver and white being the predominant colours used on the packaging – the actual logo never changed, however, and that is where the consistency comes in.

In this way, we were able to market a R15 beaded keyring to one demographic, and a R5 000 sculpture to another without creating confusion or weakening the brand position of either of the products or product ranges.

Cross Pollinate

A final opportunity that multiple brands offer is the chance to cross-pollinate. This means helping boost the profile of one brand while promoting another, either through co-branding (as an example, every single RB product has the parent company logo on it somewhere) or through other means of association.

Let’s imagine you are a product designer and are launching a new range of textile products under the brand name Township Textiles.

Related: 10 Business Lessons For Brand Success

It would be a perfect opportunity to also promote your own design skills, by co-branding the textile products with ‘Designed by Joe Bloggs’ or whatever your design consultancy is called, and having appropriate marketing materials for both at any launches etc. In this way, you add credibility to both and detract from neither.

A last word on multiple brands, they make the most sense when your core brand is well established and ideally has some brand equity.

If Nando’s decided to open a bunch of pizza outlets under a different brand we would probably be quite receptive, or at least interested, since the core brand is so trusted and respected.

Anton Ressel is a business strategist, social commentator and writer as well as the founder and Director of ARC Consulting, a small business specialist agency that offers mentorship, support and other services to entrepreneurs and emerging businesses nationally. See for more info.

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Brush Up On Your Personal Branding To Cement Your Success As An Entrepreneur

Check your life skills ratings in these three key everyday areas to see whether you need to pull back from the edge.

Richard Mukheibir




When you run your own business, you are the brand champion and the brand ambassador – in fact, you are the brand. That is why in all the turmoil of start-up or getting a new product launched, you need to spare a moment to step back.

Think about how you are presenting to the world the brand that is so precious to you and that means so much for your future. Your clients certainly want to know and even see evidence that you are deeply committed to your brand. But there is a fine line between living the brand and letting the brand take you over and cloud your better judgement.

This is where personal branding becomes as important as your innovative product solutions or your customer service excellence. Edgy entrepreneur is one thing – but clients might shy away if they think that you have stepped over the edge and are more involved in process than delivery.

Check your life skills ratings in these three key everyday areas to see whether you need to pull back from the edge:

  1. Time management: Despite traffic problems or transport schedules, getting this right is vital. If you do not make it on time to an initial meeting with a client, this will raise alarm bells. The client’s immediate thought is, “Can I trust this person’s word about delivering on time?” Time is money and not being on time could ultimately cost you money.
  2. Look the part: If you look tired, dishevelled or have poor hygiene, instead of giving you a high five for pulling an all-nighter trying to troubleshoot a new product, clients might simply think that you do not fit with their corporate culture. Ask yourself if you even fit with your own corporate culture? Is this the way you want to present your brand and your business to the world?
  3. Clear the decks: You might just get away with your office or workshop looking like a tip where only you know where to find something. But do not let that attitude spill over into the world outside.

That apparently friendly and innocent courtesy of being escorted to your car by your host when you leave the meeting could cover them checking you out. Many business people judge potential service providers or partners by their car – not the brand but what it looks like.

Is it covered in dust and badly in need of a wash? Is it full of the rubbish of several lunches on the road and a muddle of paperwork? It is likely that they will deduce that this is how you run your business and how you would run your business relationship with them. In other words, the state of your car might get you the thumbs up or put an end to what had been a promising negotiation.

You can be how you like, do what you want when you are off duty. But when you are on your own business’s time, you are your own brand and you need to live up to it if you want to make your mark.

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5 Things You Can Do To ‘Humanise’ Your Brand

Face it: Consumers don’t automatically trust your brand or anyone else’s. Whaddaya gonna do?

Syed Balkhi




Let’s face it, consumers don’t trust brands. Most people view companies like faceless enemies; they’re just out to make money; they’re just telling us what we want to hear. So, if your company wants to win over more customers, you’ve got to get them to trust you.

In fact, according to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018, more than one in three consumers surveyed ranked “trust in brand” among the top three factors, other than price, influencing their decision to shop at a particular retailer. How do you get consumers to trust your company? You do it by showing them the human side of your brand. That will inspire more trust from consumers and boost your conversions.

To form meaningful relationships with your audience, check out these five ways to humanise your brand.

Show off your funny bone


One easy way is to show off your funny bone. According to researchers from the Turku PET Centre, Oxford and Aalto universities, social laughter leads to an endorphin release in the brain and may promote the establishment of social bonds. So, if laughter can make us feel good and encourage connections between people, you should consider using it to get the same results for your business.

Not a comedian yourself? Don’t worry; you can share popular and funny content that already exists. It’s what Netflix does when the media giant shares funny images from its shows.

Showing your more playful side will help consumers see that you’re not just a business focused on selling a product; you’re a human who can put aside your seriousness and have some fun.

Related: Boutique Branding Consultancy Morake Design House

Put your team members in the spotlight

Letting consumers see the people behind the business is a powerful way to humanise your brand. If consumers are looking at just your logo all the time, they might not see your brand as human. So, put your team members in the spotlight.

Shoot some quality photos of your staff members and display them on your website and your social media platforms. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer; iPhones today can take some pretty stunning shots. You might even share your employee of the month and include a story about what makes that staffer so great. Seeing the amazing people “behind the curtain” will help consumers put a face to the brand name.

Share user-generated content

Sharing user-generated content works to humanise your brand in two ways: First, it’s exciting and flattering to the user who gets his or her photo featured on your website or social media feed. Second, it shows other consumers that you have great relationships with their peers and that those people already enjoy your products.

Instead of being asked to blindly trust a company’s claims, consumers will see real-life people falling in love with your products, which will promote trust in your brand. Example? Airbnb does user-generated content well by sharing with its followers the amazing experiences its customers are having around the world.


If you don’t have any user-generated content, ask your customers for it. Do this in an email marketing campaign; add it to your branded packages for shipping; or create a post on social media encouraging users to take a photo of/with your product and share it in combination with a unique, branded hashtag.

Related: 5 Ways To Make Your Personal Branding Statement Stand Out

Tell authentic stories

Don’t spend all your time online just talking about how great your company is; humanise your brand by telling authentic stories. Sharing real stories about your failures, hardships and lessons that you’ve learned will help customers better relate and sympathise with you. According to Psychological Science, research suggests that shared pain may have positive social consequences; shared pain acts as a “social glue” to promote solidarity and togetherness between groups.

So, tell your target audience members stories that they can relate to, instead of simply presenting your brand as perfect. You could even share stories of your customers who previously struggled but then achieved success with help from your company/product. This will not only humanise your brand, but boost sales too.

Show appreciation for your customers

Letting your customers know that you care about and appreciate them is one of the best ways to humanise your brand. So, show appreciation for your best customers by sending them company swag or offering special discounts with a personalised message.

Buffer thanked one of its stand-out customers with not only company swag, but a personalised gift. I’m sure that those customers then became lifelong fans.


Not every company can afford to send out swag to all of their best customers, but sending a gift to just a few of your rockstar fans can go a long way. For a less costly strategy, show appreciation to new customers by simply sending a welcome/thank you email. Not only will such appreciation for your customers humanise your brand, it’ll turn those customers into brand ambassadors.

Related: How A Branded Car Can Boost Your Business

Over to you

Be prepared for your business to have a lot more die-hard customers. With these tips for humanising your brand, consumers will be able to connect with your business, relate to you on a deeper level and want to have a relationship with your company for the long term.

This article was originally posted here on

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How A Strong Brand Protects Your Business

Brand enthusiasts are welcome to follow Kyle Rolfe’s latest thoughts on brand building in South Africa and his analysis on relevant global trends and issues via Twitter @kylerolfeSA.

Kyle Rolfe




It is all too easy for small businesses to become victims of intellectual property theft and seeing their products and services copied by unscrupulous competitors. A clear case in point is that of Woolworths, which was recently accused of copying a baby carrier made by Ubuntu Baba, having a cheaper version made in China and selling it as its own in-house product.

Woolworths eventually apologised and withdrew its product, after Cape Town entrepreneur Shannon McLaughlin exposed similarities between the retailer’s baby carrier and that made by her company, Ubuntu Baba.

Small business owners can protect themselves from having their products or services copied by developing a strong and unique brand.

Brand uniqueness and an authentically developed product will give you a level of protection in the market, as it will be more difficult for a competitor to copy your offering.

What small business owners should avoid is the “white label solution”. This is taking any product, even one manufactured overseas, and putting your own branding and packaging on it and reselling it as your own.

There is nothing stopping your competitor from sourcing that same product and putting their branding on it and selling it as their own. In this case, as a small business owner, you would have no recourse.

Ubuntu Baba’s unique brand and authentically developed product, designed and manufactured locally, is what helped the small business successfully take on a giant retailer like Woolworths. They didn’t simply take someone else’s product and rebrand it as their own, they actually designed and built their own product.

A unique brand and product will position you as more than just a reseller and will give you a certain level of strength and protection in the market. It allows clients to differentiate you from your competitors and can also positively affect their purchasing decisions, directly impacting your profitability.

Effective branding, that is well defined and distinct, will not only help build your reputation, but it will also make you stand out from the competition.

Ultimately, your brand is your business identity. It is the image that you show to your client, making it one of your company’s most valuable assets. Effective branding portrays a company’s values and attracts the right client.

A strong brand identity also has the benefit of making your company appear bigger and stronger than your competition and consumers are generally attracted to well-established companies. So, ask yourself whether your branding conveys professionalism, reliability and trust.

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