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Strategic Brand Management

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Managing two levels of branding

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Managing two levels of branding

Managing both change and identity is helped by a double level of brand architecture. This is how Calvin Klein, Chanel and Volkswagen are organised. How does one consistently manage such brands? They are called source brands in the sense that they include products that have their own individual identity and brand name.

In this sense we talk of mother brands and daughter brands, or first-name brands. Thus, there is Renault but there are also the personalities of Clio, Twingo, Megane and Val Satis, each with its own identity. The Renault brand is not content just with endorsing, it adds its own values and creates a coherent environment. It is no longer an umbrella brand because there are two levels to the brand (the family name and the first name), whereas an umbrella brand includes products without first names (such as a Philips TV, a Philips razor, a Philips coffee machine …).

The problem that surfaces is that of the balance which has to be struck between coherence and freedom, family resemblance and individuality. This concerns, beyond the examples just cited, all industrial groups that maintain the strong identities of corporate brands, and that do not want to be considered as merely a holding company. The key lies in a systematic approach to the source brand, analysing what each daughter brand brings to or borrows from the whole.

One should always start with understanding the whole (the masterbrand or house brand) and how this impacts on its products. Brand extension is on the increase. When they wish to enter markets from which they have been absent, more and more companies do so using the name of one of their existing brands, rather than using a new brand name created for that purpose.