Your brand platform and your branding strategy should dictate which.
We all know Proctor and Gamble emphasizes product brands. Tide and Crest and Pringles stand on their own. As they say in hi-tech, the company is â€œtransparentâ€ to the consumer.
During my time at IBM, we didnâ€™t brand the products as such, we just named them to differentiate one from another. The brand was, and still is those three initials and all they stand for: IBM.
So which is best? The answer of course is: it depends.
I just advised the CEO of a startup software company to brand the company and make the product offerings subordinate. Why? In this case, all the offerings were directed at a specific target market. The CEO assured me that would be the constant in his strategy: to be a single-market server.
In addition, the software applications would not only be compatible, but in all likelihood would be sold as a suite or as add-ons to first-product purchases. The names of the unique offerings should, I suggested, have the same structure, and the logos and graphics should have a similar look to help with the idea of integration and compatibility. But the dominant name should be the corporate name.
On another occasion, my client was known only as a supplier of commodity-like agricultural chemicals, all sold under the corporate name. The products carried the corporate name plus a designation to identify them.
So when he desired to enter a non-agricultural market with a garden spray, I advised him to brand it on its own. Because he had no history with the garden market, either at the consumer or outlet level, the corporate name had no equity or credibility. By focusing on the product brand, he could establish product awareness without inserting another name (for instance, GetOut by ABC, Inc.) that might cause confusion or mental fatigue. In addition, by adopting or creating a product name specific to the application, it would be more likely to be relevant to customers scanning a store shelf.
The decision to emphasize one or the other is strategic in nature. It, along with many other decisions concerning branding, should be addressed soon after a brand platform has been created.
One of the functions of the brand platform is to define the basis for establishing the brand structure for a company. The brand platform should be an integral part of the business strategic planning process. Iâ€™ll discuss the components of a brand platform in future blogs.