Skip to main content

Parent brand and baby brand, part 2 -- finding the right balance

Recently I posited ( that “every organization is at war with its parent brand, if there is one. This is because, unless it is extraordinarily strategic-minded, the parent tends to have a sort of identity conflict and to want to take credit for the achievements of the child brand, or at the very least is conflicted about setting the child brand free to mark its achievements on its own.”

The implication is that it is always legitimate for the child brand to establish its own identity. However, this is not always the case. There is at least one instance when a baby brand should stay close to the fold of a parent brand: When the unity of the parent brand is at stake. That is, if the baby brand’s having its own identity will threaten the parent brand’s unity, there is a problem.

One solution to this dilemma is to fold the baby brand back into the parent brand (renaming it, at least partially). The benefit is to flow brand equity from the baby brand back into the parent brand. The risk is that brand equity will flow out of the baby brand, but not flow into the parent brand – with the result that there are two flattened brands.

If it is not possible or desirable to fold the baby brand back into the parent brand, the parent brand should indeed let the baby brand go and surround it with “siblings”—related subbrands that can establish a kind of “melting pot” family for the parent brand. E.g., Coca-Cola has not only its namesake cola brand, but also Minute Maid juice, Powerade, Nestea (with Nestle), Fruitopia, and Dasani (source: All of these subbrands have their own identities, but all of them are also known to be related to each other as part of the Coca-Cola family.

In general, although there are baby brands that supersede their parents and deserve to have their own spotlight, it is not desirable for a master brand to have a proliferation of subbrands—unless each subbrand contributes something concrete and valuable to the master brand portfolio. If the master brand does not exert control over its baby brands, it will be overrun with divisions and offices each wanting to brand their own activities, each leaching equity from the master brand probably before being ready to exist on its own.

So it is a careful balance that has to be struck between parent brand and baby brand—proceed with caution.

Part 1 of Parent brand vs. baby brand is here:

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …