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.
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.
Influence on consumer perception
The influence of individual branding on consumer perception is substantial, as it taps into the psychological underpinnings of customer behavior.
When each product carries a unique brand identity, it speaks directly to a consumer’s self-image and personal preferences, allowing for a more intimate and resonant market presence. The distinct personality of a brand can evoke specific emotions and associations. This targeted appeal is designed to appeal to consumer’s aspirations, values, and lifestyle choices – creating a psychological bond that can lead to stronger brand loyalty and advocacy.
It’s for this reason individual branding can be a powerful tool for emotional engagement, turning a simple purchase into a statement of the consumer’s identity.
Individual branding isn’t just about differentiating products; it’s also a strategic tool for building brand equity – a provider of strategic advantages for companies that own brands. Each product carries its own brand name, much like an individual’s reputation, amassing its own value in the eyes of consumers. This brand equity represents a form of intangible asset that can significantly influence a company’s valuation. In the event that a company decides to sell off a specific product line, the established brand equity can be a major selling point. It embodies the loyalty and recognition that the product has earned, potentially commanding a higher price on the market.
Individual branding can be an investment in building a valuable asset for future business transactions.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
The following scenarios are purely illustrative. The companies and products mentioned are entirely fictional and have been created for the sole purpose of education. These examples are designed to help you visualize how individual branding can be implemented across different industries and market segments.
Example 1: Sweet Indulgence Confectionery Corporation
Sweet Indulgence Confectionery Corporation offers a variety of sweets, each with its own distinct branding:
- ChocoMunch: A line of premium chocolate bars with exotic flavors targeting gourmets and chocolate aficionados.
- GummyFun: A range of colorful and fruity gummy candies aimed at children and families looking for fun, shareable treats.
- Eclatant: An exclusive brand of sugar-free confections designed for health-conscious consumers and diabetics.
Each brand under the Sweet Indulgence umbrella targets different market segments, with unique branding that reflects its product positioning. ChocoMunch’s branding speaks of luxury and sophistication, GummyFun is all about playful enjoyment, and Eclatant focuses on the elegance of healthy indulgence.
Example 2: HydraClear Home Solutions
HydraClear Home Solutions is a company that manufactures a range of home cleaning appliances, each marketed under a separate brand:
- Sparklean: A line of advanced robotic vacuum cleaners for tech-savvy homeowners, featuring sleek designs and smart-home connectivity.
- PureFlow: A series of water purifiers with a focus on purity and sustainability, targeting environmentally conscious consumers.
- BlastHeat: A range of powerful, energy-efficient electric heaters designed with a minimalist aesthetic for the modern urban dwelling.
The individual branding allows each product to occupy a distinct niche—Sparklean appeals to the premium smart home market, PureFlow resonates with eco-friendly values, and BlastHeat is positioned as the efficient choice for contemporary living.
Example 3: BellaDerma Beauty Inc.
BellaDerma Beauty Inc. specializes in skincare and beauty products, with individual brands catering to different customer needs:
- LuminaSkin: A luxury skincare brand that offers anti-aging solutions, with a glamorous image for upscale markets.
- ClearPore: A brand of acne treatment products geared toward teenagers and young adults, emphasizing confidence and clear skin.
- EcoBare: A line of organic and natural makeup products for consumers who prefer minimalist and environmentally safe beauty options.
LuminaSkin’s branding conveys timeless elegance and sophistication, ClearPore connects with youthful energy and positivity, and EcoBare appeals to the ethical consumer with its earth-toned packaging and eco-friendly messaging.
By using individual branding, companies like Sweet Indulgence, HydraClear, and BellaDerma can ensure that the success or failure of one product does not directly impact the others, thereby safeguarding their diverse product portfolio.