What is individual branding? Definition and examples

Individual branding is a marketing strategy in which every product a company sells has its own unique brand name. The policy helps establish a unique image and identity. It also helps make a brand occupy a distinct position relative to rival brands, i.e., positioning.

We also use the terms multibranding, individual product branding, and flanker brands with the same meaning as individual branding.

Individual branding also protects a company’s other products if one of them fails.

A company’s or product’s brand is its ‘image’ and ‘personality.’ One of the most important aspects of a company and its products are its brands.

Mbaskool.com says the following regarding the term:

“It is a marketing strategy of branding different products by different names. Such a branding strategy helps establish a unique brand identity, image and positioning.”

Companies that use this strategy say that it helps them target different market segments, i.e., consumer groups.

Individual Branding
As you can see in this image, both individual and umbrella branding exist in some famous multinationals.

Umbrella vs. individual branding

Individual branding contrasts with umbrella branding. Umbrella branding or corporate branding is a strategy of marketing all a company’s products together.

Corporate branding includes using the same brand name and identity for its whole product range.

Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch multinational, uses umbrella branding for some of its product ranges.

Unilever had a range of similar products that used the same family brand ‘Axe.’ There was Axe shower gels, Axe shampoos, Axe deodorant (now Lynx), and also Axe hair stylers.

The Virgin Group uses the same brand name for all its products and subsidiaries.

Individual branding – tragedies

With individual branding, scandal or tragedy that affects one product will not damage the others. It won’t damage the others because they do not have the same brand name.

Let’s suppose that a company sold an OTC stomach medicine, a chocolate bar, and toothpaste all with the brand name ‘Palimbo.’ OTC means over the counter, which means you can buy the medication without a doctor’s prescription.

Let’s also imagine that a new study found that Palimbo stomach medicine caused severe alopecia, i.e., hair loss.

The negative publicity was huge. It also lasted several months. Lawsuits appeared everywhere. For any product having the brand name ‘Palimbo,’  it was like receiving the commercial kiss of death.

The company’s chocolate bar and toothpaste, which also had the brand name ‘Palimbo,’ would probably suffer a significant loss in sales.

If, however, the company had adopted an individual branding strategy, sales of its chocolate and toothpaste would have remained strong.

Companies that sell several unconnected commodities which vary in price and quality tend to go for individual branding. Especially if their products target different market segments.

Individual branding – pros and cons

Like all business strategies, giving each product its own brand name and identity comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

– Positioning is easier. In other words, the company is better able to position each product differently.

– The marketing team can use a different marketing strategy for each product.

– Each individual brand can serve customers differently.

– It allows the company to offer a wider range of products of different quality. For example, cheap products will not undermine the image of the more expensive ones.

– The company’s and other products’ reputation do not depend on one brand name. The failure of one brand does not affect the others or the company.

Disadvantages

– There is a greater risk of instability within the company.

– It is riskier for new products. The company will be launching them with their own brand names, i.e., names people have never heard. This means that it will take longer to build customer loyalty.

– Creating a new brand name is expensive.

– There is a risk of market cannibalism, i.e., the new product eats into the market share of an existing one.

– Different market brands may split efforts within the company.