When you’re starting on your entrepreneurial journey, it can be quite confusing to decide which brand strategy to utilize for your products or services. One of those strategies that you might or might not have heard of before is range branding, and is used by many successful brands today. So what exactly is range branding?
Range branding is a branding strategy used by a company to brand a range of products that fall under the same area of competence, under their own unique brand with their own brand strategy, promise, and positioning, while also still being tied to the overall strategy and positioning of the master brand.
Now let’s take a deep dive into what range branding is, the advantages, disadvantages, and cover some examples in detail. Ready? Let’s go.
What is Range Branding?
Before we get into range 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 established, range branding is a branding strategy that you can use to brand a range of your products that fall under the same area of competence. You can do this by separating them from the master brand, branding them under their own unique brand, and independently developing their brand strategy, promise, and positioning.
Because this newly created range brand will still be tied to the name of the master brand, even though it’s more of a backseat role, it will still have to be in line with the master brand’s overall strategy and positioning to some extent, at least.
Range branding is different from line branding because the specific lines or range of products form a stand-alone brand apart from the master brand.
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.
Range branding like Nestle does with Maggi, for example, separates Maggi from the Nestle master brand and allows it to create its own strategy and position in the market.
Examples of Range Branding
Here are a few examples of companies that utilize a range branding strategy successfully.
1. Maggi (Nestle)
As I mentioned, one of the most famous examples of a company using a range branding strategy is Nestle and its Maggi brand. Nestle uses the Maggi brand to market and sells its range of fast food products like noodles, sauces, etc. Although it is part of the Nestle family and falls under the Nestle brand architecture, Maggi is a brand in its own right with its own unique branding, brand strategy, promise, and positioning.
That being said, Maggi is still tied to the Nestle brand and its overall positioning to some extent, and that is a key characteristic of range branding. So while it mostly stands on its own as a brand, it still has one foot in the door of the Nestle master brand.
As we will discuss when we get to disadvantages of range branding, Maggi and subsequently the Nestle brand have had a fair share of negative press and controversy over the past few years regarding meeting food safety standards.
Maggi’s 2-minute noodles were banned in India when food regulators found high levels of MSG and lead in the noodles, which led to many withdrawals of the products in India and other places. Although this was about the Maggi range of products, Nestle and all its other brands in the master brand architecture were all negatively affected by this scandal.
Mercedes-Benz, a subsidiary of Daimler AG, is another great example, along with some of the other big car companies.
Mercedes-Benz has many different ranges of products or brands, each with its own brand strategy, positioning, promise, and target audience.
Let’s take a look at some of the range brands that fall under the Mercedes-Benz master brand.
Mercedes-Benz S, E, C & A Classes
Luxury, high-quality, family cars at affordable prices, but still only if you earn enough to afford one. Mercedes-Benz’s price point has been slightly higher than that of some of its competitors like BMW and Audi, and therefore still seen as more of a luxury option.
Nonetheless, these “classes” are all aimed at a particular type of customer, and the brand strategy, promise, and positioning cater to their specific needs.
The Mercedes-AMG range is all about sport and performance. The cars are faster, sportier, and aimed at the younger, high-earning motorsport enthusiast who wants to show status with the cars they drive and get the performance to stand out from the crowd.
Although the AMG range is technically available in each of the S, E, C, A, G, M, SL, etc., the brand itself stands alone and is marketed separately, aimed at its specific target audience.
The Mercedes-AMG brand is also involved in motorsport, most notably with its Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, which has dominated the sport for the last few years and gives the brand a major boost.
Ultra-luxury for the ultra-rich. The Mercedes-Maybach brand is in the same league as Rolls Royce, famous for the ultimate brand in luxury cars.
It goes without saying that the brand strategy, promise, positioning, and target audience of this range are vastly different from those of the other Mercedes brands. Therefore it only makes sense for Mercedes to utilize the range branding strategy.
Interesting fact is that the biggest market currently for the Mercedes-Maybach brand is China.
The Smart brand is a combination of Swatch, the Swiss watch brand, and Mercedes-Benz, and stands for “Swatch Mercedes ART.”
Small, compact, and extremely fuel-efficient cars for inner-city living or traveling. You can see how the brand strategy and positioning for the Smart would be vastly different from that of Mercedes-AMG or Mercedes-Maybach. Therefore range branding is the best strategy in this situation for Daimler AG and Mercedes AG.
Currently, only 3 electric models of the Smart are available.
Other Mercedes-Benz Products
Other than the brands mentioned already, Mercedes-Benz also manufactures and sells ranges of vans, busses, and trucks, while also being involved in many other areas of the automotive industry.
Pros of Range Branding
Let’s look at some of the pros of a range branding.
1. Unique Positioning
Each range and area of competence can be positioned and marketed to a specific target audience to an extent without worrying about the positioning of the master brand. Maggi, for example, can tailor its brand strategy to target a particular segment of the market that Nestle might not be able to. This gives the range brand freedom similar to that of a product brand.
2. Association with the Master Brand
The range brand still enjoys some of the benefits of being associated with the master brand. Although the Smart car is a separate brand in its own right, the association with the Mercedes-Benz brands benefits it tremendously. It gives it the upper hand compared to an unknown competitor brand entering the market.
3. Easily Introduce New Products
New products that fall under the same area of competence can be easily introduced into the market under the range brand. If Nestle has a new instant fast-food type of product it wants to introduce to the market, it can easily be done under the Maggi brand and benefit the Maggi brand equity.
Cons of Range Branding
Let’s look at some of the disadvantages of a range branding strategy.
1. Limited to Area of Competence
Each range is limited to its area of competence, and it’s hard to introduce new or complementary products under the same range brand. If Mercedes-Benz, or Daimler AG for that matter, wants to start developing medical equipment, for example, they would not be able to do so under any of their range brands.
2. Negative Affects of the Master Brand
Any negative press that a range brand in the brand family or the master brand itself gets affects all of the range and other brands under the brand architecture. I’ve touched on the example of Maggi and the controversies over the last few years regarding the quality standards of its products and how that has negatively impacted the Nestle master brand.
3. Higher Marketing Costs
Marketing cost is higher than with line brands. Like a product brand strategy, since the range brand is technically a stand-alone brand, the marketing costs would be much higher since it can’t fully leverage the brand equity of the master brand. This would especially be the case where the range brand would enter a new market or geographic location.
And there we have the ins and outs of the range branding strategy along with some famous examples.
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.
Other posts in this series:
Line 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)