May 18, 2007
To Masterbrand or Sub-brand? That is the Question
One of the oldest debates in branding is whether you introduce a new product under the existing parent brand or create a sub-brand name. Some marketing consultants essentially say that sub-brands don't work. That seems like an over-simplification to me, as well as not a universal truth.
Toyota is extending its Prius sub-brand for its hybrid vehicles, removing the Toyota moniker, and, in effect, creating a new parent brand. Does Toyota know what they're doing? I think so.
In the consumer's mind, I believe, Prius equals hybrid, green and good. Therefore, I think its wise that Toyota's new hybrid models, which we'll start to see in 2009, will be called Prius A, Prius B and Prius C.
However, I think the A, B and C nomenclature is a mistake. Anyone that's received a grade in school would much prefer to get an A than a C. And what happens when Toyota introduces its sixth Prius model? Would you want a Prius F?
If you've read this far, I've fooled you. The Prius A, B and C are only internal code names, once again demonstrating that Toyota knows what they're doing.
As you're probably aware by now, AT&T, which, a few months ago, was acquired by much bigger SBC Communications, which renamed itself AT&T despite its much larger size. That "was a bit like France marching into Brussels and renaming itself Belgium," said Stephanie Mehta of Fortune, in her article yesterday, Meet the new AT&T.
Although controversial, AT&T did away with the very well known and probably much hipper Cingular name. I predict that long-term, the Cingular brand will reemerge in some place in some way, like many other zombie brands.
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