What is Mixed Branding? Benefits and Challenges

A Nike cap an example of a mixed branding project

Mixed branding is a popular branding strategy used by many top brands in the industrial marketplace. While some may view it as a theoretical concept, many successful brands have effectively used mixed branding to reach multiple target audiences without the need to create entirely new brands or products.

This article will explore the concept of mixed branding and its significant impact on the growth of brands and organizations. We will also highlight the different types of mixed branding and discuss the best ways and timing to use this branding technique.

What is Mixed Branding?

Mixed branding is a marketing strategy that involves using two or more brand names to market the same product or service to different audiences. Instead of relying solely on a single brand, the organization creates a diverse portfolio of brands to cater to varying customer segments or needs. 

These brands operate independently, often targeting different markets or product categories, while simultaneously benefiting from the overall reputation and recognition of the parent company. It’s a useful strategy for businesses that want to reach a wider range of customers or appeal to different market segments.

Brands embrace this marketing strategy for various reasons. One primary motive is when a brand realizes that a product may not align with its brand identity and target audience. Additionally, when a brand wants to sell a product to multiple audiences that are not part of its core target market, mixed branding comes into play.

To address these challenges, brands strategize and create different brand names from their existing brand to market a particular product or service to a new target audience. This approach is particularly helpful when multiple brands produce similar products with the same name, potentially causing confusion in the market.

Key Components of Mixed Branding

The key component of mixed branding are the parent company identity and individual brand identities:

Parent Company Identity: 

The parent company in a mixed branding strategy serves as the umbrella brand for all the other brands. It represents the core values, credibility, and reputation of the entire product portfolio, providing a sense of assurance to consumers. The parent company’s identity is typically reflected in the other brands’ logos, taglines, and marketing materials.

Individual Brand Identities

Each product or service offered by the company has its distinct brand identity, including name, logo, and positioning. This autonomy allows the brands to cater to specific consumer preferences and needs without diluting the overall brand image. The individual brands can have their own unique marketing campaigns and messaging that target different audiences.

How It Works: Types of Mixed Branding

Mixed branding can be approached in different ways depending on the need of your brand. Sice different brands serve different target audience, the type or pattern of mixed branding you adopt  will depend on the result you hope to achieve. 

Lets take a look at some of the mosy common types of mixed branding and examples of brands leveraging them. Hopefully, you will find the the one that best describes your specific needs.

1. Sub-Branding

Sub-branding is a type of mixed branding where a new brand is created within an existing brand. The sub-brand has its own unique name, logo, and positioning, but it is endorsed and associated with the parent brand. 

This strategy is commonly used when a company wants to introduce a new product line or cater to a different market segment while leveraging the reputation and credibility of the parent brand.

For example, Toyota uses sub-branding for its luxury vehicles, known as Lexus. While Lexus has its own distinct identity, the association with Toyota provides an assurance of quality and reliability.

2. Store Branding

Store branding is a strategy in which a company creates products or services that carry the name of both the company and a specific retailer. This can be done by adjusting the appearance and identity of the company’s products to match the retailer’s branding, or by allowing the retailer to sell the products under their own name.

Although, in a situation were these retailers purchase  the rights to sell a product under their own name, it is referred to as  White labeling. This allows the retailer to sell products that are made by other companies, but that carry the retailer’s branding.

For instance, Michelin, the manufacturing company, produces and markets tires using its own brand name.However, they also work with the retail giant Sears via a white-labelling agreement. This allows Sears to sell Michelin brand tires under their own name in their auto centers.

Store branding and white labeling can be a valuable strategy for both companies and retailers. For companies, it can help them to expand their reach and sales by selling their products through other channels. For retailers, it can help them to differentiate their products from those of their competitors and to offer their customers a wider range of choices.

3. Private Label Branding

Private label branding is another method of mixed branding practiced by a good number of brands. Although, Private label branding is similar to store branding, but instead of carrying the retailer’s name, the products are labeled under a unique brand name created by the company.

The primary focus here is to build a distinct brand identity that doesn’t directly associate with the retailer. Private label brands provide retailers with a competitive edge and the opportunity to offer exclusive products.

Example: AmazonBasics, Amazon’s private label brand, offers a wide range of products, including electronics, kitchen essentials, and office supplies.

4. Co-branding

Co-branding is a collaborative mixed branding strategy where two or more companies come together to create a new product or service that combines the strengths of each brand. By leveraging the reputation and expertise of multiple brands, co-branding aims to create added value for consumers and drive mutual benefits for the participating companies.

Example: Nike and Apple collaborated to create Nike+ Apple Watch, combining fitness tracking technology with athletic footwear to cater to health-conscious consumers.

5. Location Branding

Location branding is a form of mixed branding that involves adjusting the image and identity of a brand for different geographical locations. This is actually quite a common process, as different titles and brand identities can work more effectively in certain cultures.

For example,  the “Pepsi” brand. In China, Pepsi is known as “Pepsi-Cola” because the Chinese characters for “Cola” are more familiar to consumers. In Japan, Pepsi is known as “Peisī” because the Japanese pronunciation of “Pepsi” is difficult for most Japanese people to pronounce. Location branding can be a very effective way to reach new markets and build brand awareness in different cultures. 

Advantages of Mixed Branding to Marketing

Market segmentation

Mixed branding allows companies to target different market segments with specialized products or services under different brands. This can help companies reach a broader audience and diversify their customer base.

Risk Management

Having multiple brands within the portfolio can help companies reduce the risk associated with relying on a single brand. If one brand faces challenges or negative publicity, it does not significantly impact the other brands or the parent company’s reputation.

Increased Brand Awareness

When you use multiple brand names, you can reach a wider audience and increase brand awareness. For example, L’Oréal uses a mixed branding strategy with its portfolio of brands, such as Lancôme, Maybelline, and NYX. Each brand targets a different consumer segment, but they all benefit from the overall awareness of the L’Oréal brand.

Enhanced Customer Loyalty

By using multiple brands, you can create a more loyal customer base. This is because customers who are loyal to one brand may also be interested in other brands from the same company. For example, Starbucks uses a mixed branding strategy with its products, such as coffee, tea, and pastries. Customers who are loyal to Starbucks coffee may also be interested in Starbucks tea or pastries.

Improved Brand Equity 

Brand equity is the value of a brand. It is based on factors such as brand awareness, brand image, and customer loyalty. When you use multiple brands, you can improve brand equity by increasing brand awareness, improving brand image, and enhancing customer loyalty.

Brand Diversification

Mixed branding can help you diversify your business. This is because you can create new brands that offer different products or services. For example, Disney uses a mixed branding strategy with its products, such as movies, television shows, theme parks, and merchandise. Each brand offers a different product or service, but they all benefit from the overall popularity of the Disney brand.

Increased Flexibility

Mixed branding can give you more flexibility in your business. This is because you can create new brands as needed or discontinue brands that are not performing well. For example, Nike uses a mixed branding strategy with its products. If a new product is not performing well, Nike can discontinue it without affecting the overall brand.

Challenges of Mixed Branding

As with every other branding strategy, mixed branding comes with some cons too. Here are the challenges of mixed branding:

Customer Confusion

While mixed branding offers numerous benefits, one potential challenge that companies may encounter is the risk of confusion among customers when they employ too many brands within their portfolio. When a company presents an array of different brands, each catering to specific products or services, it can become challenging for customers to differentiate between them.

This confusion can manifest in several ways, ultimately resulting in lost sales and diminished customer loyalty. To maintain a successful mixed branding strategy, companies must be cautious and strike the right balance between brand diversity and clarity.

Lack of Brand Recognition

In a mixed branding scenario with numerous brands, some lesser-known brands might fail to receive the recognition they deserve. When customers are not familiar with a brand, they are less likely to trust it, making it challenging for the brand to gain traction in the market. This lack of recognition can hinder the brand’s ability to attract and retain customers, impacting its sales and market share.

Cannibalization

An excessive number of brands can lead to cannibalization, wherein one brand’s success comes at the expense of another brand within the same company. This scenario occurs when two or more brands target the same customer segments or offer similar products, resulting in internal competition rather than expanding the overall market share.

Brand Overload

When a company introduces an excessive number of brands, customers may find it overwhelming to remember and distinguish each one. This brand overload can lead to decision fatigue, wherein customers struggle to identify the best option for their needs.

As a result, they might abandon their purchase altogether or turn to a competitor that offers a more straightforward and memorable brand experience.

Lack of Brand Recognition

In a mixed branding scenario with numerous brands, some lesser-known brands might fail to receive the recognition they deserve. When customers are not familiar with a brand, they are less likely to trust it, making it challenging for the brand to gain traction in the market. This lack of recognition can hinder the brand’s ability to attract and retain customers, impacting its sales and market share.

Diluted Brand Equity

If a company spreads its resources too thin across numerous brands, it risks diluting the brand equity of each individual brand. Strong brand equity is built over time through consistent customer experiences, positive associations, and effective marketing efforts. When resources are not adequately allocated, the brands may lose their unique identities and fail to make a lasting impact on consumers.

Common Mixed Branding Examples

There are many examples of mixed branding in the marketplace. Some of the most well-known examples include:

Nike and Jordan

Nike and Jordan Brand are another example of a successful co-branding partnership. The union between the sportswear giant Nike and basketball legend Michael Jordan birthed a remarkable success story that revolutionized the athletic footwear industry. From its inception in the 1980s, the Jordan Brand has grown into a global phenomenon. This partnership has helped to make Jordan Brand one of the most popular and valuable brands in the world.

Procter & Gamble (P&G)

Procter & Gamble, a global consumer goods conglomerate, is a prime example of successful mixed branding. P&G owns an extensive portfolio of brands, each catering to specific product categories and target markets.

Brands like Tide, Pampers, Gillette, and Head & Shoulders operate independently, offering a wide range of household, personal care, and beauty products. P&G’s ability to maintain the individual identity of each brand while leveraging its overall reputation for quality and innovation has made it a household name worldwide.

Unilever

Unilever, another major player in the consumer goods industry, has mastered the art of mixed branding. The company owns an array of well-known brands like Dove, Lipton, Axe, and Magnum, catering to various consumer needs. Unilever effectively positions each brand to resonate with specific target audiences while benefiting from the collective strength of the parent company’s global presence and resources.

Marriott International

Marriott International, a leading hospitality company, has adopted mixed branding to appeal to different travel preferences and price points. The company operates a diverse portfolio of hotel brands, ranging from luxury offerings like The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott to more budget-friendly options like Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield by Marriott. Each brand offers unique amenities and experiences while upholding Marriott’s commitment to exceptional hospitality.

Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands is a fast-food Multinational enterprise that employs mixed branding to cater to various culinary tastes. The company owns popular restaurant chains such as KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. Each brand targets different segments of the fast-food market, allowing Yum! Brands to expand its customer base and maintain a strong presence in the highly competitive food industry.

Tips for Successful Mixed Branding

Achieving success in mixed branding requires careful planning, strategic execution, and a customer-centric approach. Here are some  tips to help you enhance your mixed branding strategy and make it more effective:

Have a Defined Business Objective 

Setting a clear and  well-defined objectives for each brand within your portfolio will help preserve thie identities. Understand the target audience, market positioning, and unique value propositions of each brand. Align these objectives with your overall business goals and corporate identity.

Develop Distinct Brand Identities

Ensure that each brand has a unique and recognizable identity. This includes distinctive names, logos, color schemes, and brand messaging. Brands should have their individual personalities and positioning to cater to specific customer segments effectively.

Maintain Consistency

While individual brands have their identities, it’s crucial to maintain consistency in certain elements, such as brand values, customer experience, and quality standards. This consistency reinforces the association with the parent company and builds trust among consumers.

Conduct Market Research

Conduct thorough market research to identify consumer needs, preferences, and pain points. Use this data to tailor each brand’s offerings to meet specific market demands and create a strong competitive advantage.

Conclusion

Mixed branding can be a powerful marketing strategy when used effectively. However, it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before implementing a mixed branding strategy. If a company is careful to use mixed branding in a way that is clear and concise, it can be a great way to reach new markets, expand product lines, and build brand awareness.

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