What is a sub brand and when do you need one

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What is a sub brand and when do you need one

Sub brands can be a great way for small businesses and solopreneurs to create a new identity and reach new markets. They can be a crucial part of you marketing strategy to attract and convert your target audience.

In this blog post, we will look at what a sub brand is, the difference between it and your main brand, when you should create one, and examples of some great sub brands.

Ready? Grab a tea, close the other tabs and let's get started!

↘️ Pssst... If you're interested in seeing examples of sub-brands and branding work, feel free to check out my portfolio!

brand designer drawing
brand designer drawing
brand designer drawing
brand designer drawing

What is a sub brand?

A sub brand is an extension or subsidiary of your main brand that has its own name, identity, and positioning. It can be used to target new markets or launch new products without diluting your main brand.

illustration of three card with colors, fonts and photography

What is the difference between a brand and sub brand?

Your main brand is what people think of when they hear your company name. It's what you're known for and what people associate with your business.

Your sub brand, on the other hand, is a new extension or subsidiary of your main brand. It has its own unique identity, name, and positioning.


What is the difference between a sub brand and brand extension?

A sub brand is an extension or subsidiary of your main brand that has its own name, identity, and positioning. A brand extension is when you launch a new product or campaign under your main brand.


Do small businesses need sub brands?

Now, if you're a solopreneur or have a small business, you might be wondering if having a sub brand is worth it. Don't worry, I've got you!

Sub branding can be a great way for small businesses to expand their reach and grow their customer base. 

However, it's not right for every business.


If you're thinking about creating a sub brand, make sure you do your research and create a well-thought-out plan before moving forward. And if you don't know where to start, make sure to check out my video on how to create an authentic brand.

Creating a sub brand can be a lot of work, but it can also be very rewarding. If you do it right, it can help your business reach new heights.

But before you even get started, ask yourself whether you need a sub brand in the first place. Let's explore 3 reasons why you should create one for your small business next.

brand designer working

When should you create a sub brand?

There are a few different instances when creating a sub brand might be a good idea for your business:


When you want to target a new market:

If you're looking to expand into a new market, a sub brand can be a great way to reach them. By creating a new brand that is specifically targeted at this market, you can avoid any confusion or dilution of your main brand.


When you want to launch a new product or course:

If you're launching a new (digital) product that is different from what you currently offer, it can make sense to create a sub brand for it. This allows you to differentiate the new product from your existing offerings, and make sure that customers know what they're getting.


When you want to rebrand:

If you're looking for a fresh start, creating a sub brand can be a great way to do it. This allows you to keep the equity of your existing brand while creating something new.

Have questions about rebranding? Have a read of a blog post that might help you here: How to rebrand your wellness business.


Examples of successful sub brands

Now that we've looked at all the questions surrounding sub branding, here are a few examples of great sub brands:

starbucks sub brand


Starbucks' Teavana tea brand is another great example of a sub brand done right.

When they acquired the company in 2013, Starbucks rebranded the Teavana line to focus on premium, handcrafted teas. This allowed them to enter the $40 billion global tea market and reach a new customer base.

The Teavana brand now includes everything from teabags to ready-to-drink bottles of tea.

apple ipod sub brand


Apple's iPod is another great example of a successful sub brand.

When it was first launched in 2001, it revolutionized the music industry and quickly became one of the most popular portable music players on the market.

Apple eventually expanded the iPod to include other products like the iPhone and iPad, but it remains one of their most iconic brands.

air jordan nike sub brand


Nike's Jordan Brand is one of the most successful sub brands out there.

It was created in 1984 as a way to market basketball shoes and apparel specifically to the African American community.

Today, it is a multi-billion dollar business that includes everything from shoes to clothing to accessories.

live wire sub brand


In 2019, Harley-Davidson launched LiveWire, their first electric motorcycle.

In order to make sure that this new product didn't dilute their existing brand, they created a sub brand for it. This allowed them to target a new market (electric vehicle enthusiasts) without alienating their existing customer base.

estee lauder sub brand

Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder, the cosmetic company, has a sub brand called MAC Cosmetics.

MAC is targeted toward a younger demographic and offers products that are more edgy and unique than what Estee Lauder typically offers. This has helped Estee Lauder reach a new market and expand its customer base.

diet coke sub brand

Coca Cola

Coca Cola is another example of a company with a successful sub brand.

Their sub brand, Diet Coke, is one of the most popular diet sodas on the market. Diet Coke has helped Coca Cola reach a new market of health-conscious consumers and has become a billion dollar business in its own right.

google sub brands


Google is another example of a company that has used sub branding to expand its reach.

They have created products like Google Maps and Gmail that have become household names. By creating these sub brands, Google has been able to branch out into new areas and become a leader in many different industries.

warby parker sub brand

Warby Parker

Another great example is Warby Parker, the eyewear company.

They have created a sub brand called Prescription Check which allows customers to easily order new glasses or contacts from their phone. This has been a huge success for them and has helped Warby Parker grow their customer base.

hubspot sub brand


HubSpot, the inbound marketing software company and a very successful brand, has created two successful sub brands: Sidekick and AppCues.

Sidekick is their email tracking tool while AppCues helps businesses create on-boarding and engagement experiences for their users. Both are successful in their own right and help to round out HubSpot's offerings.

heather bowen ray sub brands

Heather Bowen Ray (my client!)

Heather is a small business owner who holds a couple of sub brands under her main personal brand: Let's Write Your Stories (strategic copywriting for visionary business owners) and The Habits Whisperer (healthy habits coaching for wellness and creative professionals). We infused her brand personality with meaning and carried a cohesive look and feel throughout all sub brands. Check out more details and visuals of her project here.

How to start a sub brand: Creating your brand architecture

If you're planning on creating a sub brand, the first thing you need to do is create your brand architecture. This will help you determine what your main brand and sub brands will be, and how they will work together.

There are two ways to create a brand architecture:


The house of brands model:

In this model, each brand operates independently from the others, without mention of the parent company. This can be helpful if you want to create a sub brand that has a different brand identity from your main brand.

Businesses that have multiple brands in different industries or niches may prefer this sub branding strategy.

A sub brand can also be known as an endorsed brand. Here the brand has its independent brand identity but is grouped under a strong parent brand for prestige and credibility. This can improve brand loyalty and make it much easier to build brand equity for an entirely new brand.

An example of a house of brands model is Unilever.

unilever brands

The branded house model:

In this model, all of your brands operate under one umbrella. Because of this, we also call the main brand the umbrella brand.

This strategy can be helpful if you want to create several subs brands similar to your main brand. A great example is Virgin.

Creating your sub brand: the process

Step 1

Once you've decided on your model, its time to create your brand portfolio and choose a name for your sub brand. This is an important decision, as it will be the first thing people see when they encounter your brand. Make sure it's something memorable and reflective of what your brand stands for.


Step 2

After you've chosen a name, you need to create a visual identity for your sub brand. This includes things like choosing a logo, color scheme, and font. Again, make sure these choices reflect what your brand stands for and are consistent with the rest of your branding.


Step 3

Finally, you need to decide how you're going to promote your sub brand. This includes things like creating a website, social media accounts, and marketing materials. Once you've done all of this, you're ready to launch your sub brand!

brand designer smiling

Now it's your turn!

Now that you know all about sub brands and how to create one, it's time to put these tips into action. If you're thinking about creating a sub brand for your business, go for it!

It can be a great way to expand your reach and grow your business.

And if you need more clarity about how to move forward with your sub brand identity strategy and you'd like pro-level support, click here to explore how we can work together. Together we'll take the proper steps to create an intentional brand that stands out: with one or many sub brands and beyond!

And, if you're more of a DIY-er, head over to Get Your Brand Together to follow the proper steps in creating a powerful brand.