Branding strategies can be quite intimidating when you’re deciding how to structure your company and brand your products. Line branding is a branding strategy that is used by many big brands and can be a great way to structure and position your brand and its products or services. So what exactly is line branding?
Line branding is a branding strategy used by a company to brand a line of products or services or multiple complementary lines of products or services while sharing the branding, brand strategy, promise, and positioning of the master brand. This is a great strategy for creating cross-selling opportunities among customers.
Now let’s take a deep dive into what line branding is, the advantages, disadvantages, and cover some examples in detail. Ready? Let’s go.
What is Line Branding?
Before we get into line branding, feel free to check out our post on the different types of brand strategies where we cover the basics of product branding, line branding, range branding, umbrella branding, and endorsed branding. Now let’s get back to range branding.
As we’ve mentioned, line branding is a branding strategy that you can use to brand a line of your products or lines of products under one master brand.
Line branding is different from range branding because all lines of products fall under the master brand, with a unified brand identity, message, strategy, promise, and positioning.
When Apple introduces a new line of products (line branding), like headphones, for example, the line bears the Apple brand and falls in line with the Apple brand’s brand strategy and positioning in the marketplace. There’s obviously a lot of advantages in this kind of strategy in leveraging the brand equity of the master brand, especially if it has a stellar reputation, to introduce new kinds of products or services for example,
If Apple decides to produce washing machines, they would most likely just add it as a line of products and have no issue gaining the market’s trust, and selling it to millions of dedicated Apple customers all over the world.
There are obviously many disadvantages to this kind of brand strategy as well, but we’ll get to all of that in detail a bit later in this article.
Examples of a Line Branding Strategy
Let’s look at a few examples of companies that utilize a line branding strategy successfully.
Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the last decade, you are acutely aware of the Apple brand and its multiple lines of products that enrich our lives daily. Here are a few lines of brands that fall under the Apple master brand and share its branding, brand strategy, promise, and positioning.
- Apple Watch
- Macbook PRO
Although these are separate lines of sub-brands, they all share the Apple brand and embrace the same values. This is great for making customers feel secure when buying either of these products as they all have the Apple quality stamp of approval, so to speak.
The lines of products are also closely related and fall under the same “technology” category, which allows for cross-selling opportunities among customers of all the different product lines. So Apple can essentially target the same audience and market all of their products to them. It is not uncommon for an Apple customer to own many or all of the different Apple products.
I personally use a Macbook PRO, iMac, iPhone and iPad. And back in the day, use to own a few iPods as well,
This kind of branding strategy also puts the master brand in the position to feed off the needs of its customers and then create complementary products or services to support those needs while expanding the product or service offerings.
2. Passion Posts (Passion Studios)
I recently created a small business and went through this same brand strategy process, spending quite a bit of time analyzing, strategizing, and debating which branding strategy to utilize concerning the services I was planning on offering. And for that reason, I have added it here as an example to show how I eventually ended up with a line branding strategy.
The master brand is called Passion Posts and can be defined as an internet content provider. We write blog posts for successful niche sites that want to outsource the content creation for their websites.
The overall brand promise and positioning are based on “passion,” and the tag line is “add some passion to your business/blog.”
Following the same overall promise and positioning, I also added additional lines of services relevant to internet content creation like designing, video editing, website development, brand consultancy, & photography. Following the master brand, I’ve decided to brand these additional lines of services as follows:
- Passion Posts (Master Brand) – Blog posts with passion
- Passion Lists – Lists with passion (Keyword research)
- Passion Designs – Designs with passion
- Passion Edits – Video edits with passion
- Passion Point – Find your passion point (Brand development)
- Passion Press – WordPress services with passion
- Passion Pics – Pics with passion
Above is all the line brands side by side to see how I implemented the branding on each one, and the picture below illustrates some of the basic marketing materials to get an idea of how it all comes together in practice.
I have since created the official company under the name “Passion Studios,” and you can check out the Passion Posts website here.
Pros of Line Branding
Let’s look at some of the advantages of a line branding strategy.
1. Leverage Brand Equity of the Master Brand
All the product lines leverage the brand equity of the master brand. Much of the marketing is done around the brand itself and its core attributes, which all of the lines of products or services benefit from. Apple is known for quality and being the hip product to own, so when they release a new line of products, it’ll automatically assume the same attributes as it would have been created based on those same principles.
2. Easily Introduce New Products
Can easily introduce new products into the market under the master brand and leverage the same brand strategy and positioning. Since many products or services that fall under a line branding strategy are usually complementary, it targets the same market segment, customers, and positioning of the master brand.
3. Lower Marketing Costs
Marketing costs are lower as resources are shared, and more focus is placed on marketing the master brand. The master brand can also market all of its products together if they want. They can leverage cross and up-selling, which can save marketing costs as well.
Allows for cross-selling opportunities. As I mentioned before, it’s not uncommon for Apple customers to own multiple Apple products. Each new product line is an opportunity to cross-sell or even up-sell to the master brand’s existing customer base.
Cons of Line Branding
Let’s look at some of the disadvantages of a line branding strategy.
1. Difficult to Introduce New Products Outside Master Brand’s Positioning
Difficult to introduce products that fall outside of the master brand’s positioning. It could also be a challenge to venture outside of the general category of the master brand. If Apple wanted to get into the footwear space, they would find it hard to add it as an additional product line. In that case, they’d probably be better off releasing it under a product, range, or umbrella brand strategy instead.
2. Less Adaptable to Market Changes
Less adaptable to changes in the market. Because all of the lines of products or services fall under the brand strategy, promise, and positioning of the master brand, if one area of the products or services of a particular line brand is affected by changes in the market, it would be difficult for that particular line alone to adapt accordingly. It would only be able to do so if it stays in line with the positioning and strategy of the master brand.
3. Difficult to Target Different Market Segment
Harder for a product line to potentially target a different segment of the market. If Apple saw a gap in a particular area of the market where they are not positioned, they would not target that segment with the relevant products or services accordingly as they might have to change their overall positioning and messaging to do so.
4. Affected by Negativity of Other Lines or Master Brand
If one product line or the master brand itself experiences a scandal or negative press, it affects all the product lines under the master brand. If Apple’s iPhone batteries started exploding, similar to what happened to the Samsung Galaxy phones, it would hurt the entire company’s reputation and all the other products.
And there we have the ins and outs of the line branding strategy along with one famous example and one of my own.
The lines can sometimes be blurred between the different branding strategies, and therefore, take your time and make sure you choose the right strategy for your brand.
Product Branding: The Complete Guide (with Examples)
Range Branding: The Complete Guide (with Examples)
Umbrella Branding: The Complete Guide (with Examples)
Endorsed Branding: The Complete Guide (with Examples)