What is an Umbrella Brand?

Malcolm Tatum

Umbrella brands are brand names that are utilized by a range of different but related products. Sometimes referred to as family branding, the idea behind this type of approach is to enhance the marketability of all the products that carry the same name brand, thus building an increased rapport with consumers. Because of this higher level of rapport, the manufacturer of the umbrella brand can introduce new products that are related to the existing product lines, and immediately attract the attention of customers who routinely use other products sold under the brand.

A food company may choose to produce a line of mustards under a common brand.
A food company may choose to produce a line of mustards under a common brand.

While umbrella brand models vary somewhat, the key factor is that any goods or services that are marketed under the common brand must have some type of connection. For example, an electronics firm may choose to adopt a single brand name for various types of household appliances, ranging from major appliances like ovens and refrigerators to small appliances like toasters and blenders. In like manner, a food company may choose to produce a line of ketchup blends and various types of mustards under a common brand, since all the products involved belong to the wide category of condiments.

From a marketing approach, the creation and use of an umbrella brand can be extremely beneficial. The concept conveyed to consumers is that any product that carries the brand name is produced using the same high standards of quality. Thus, if the consumer likes the mustard sold under the brand name, then there is a good chance he or she will be motivated to purchase ketchup that is sold under the same brand name. Should the company decide to market some new product that is related to the mustard and ketchup, such as a pickle relish, the consumer is also likely to purchase the new addition, based on his or her satisfaction with other products sold under the same brand name.

Along with the benefits of customer awareness and brand loyalty that are core to the use of an umbrella brand, the approach also requires that the owner of the brand name take steps to ensure the quality of every good or service that is marketed under the brand. Should a consumer have a negative experience with a refrigerator sold under the brand, he or she may be less willing to consider the purchase of an oven, or even a blender, that carries the same name brand. The negative experience may also be sufficient to deter the consumer from trying any new products introduced under the brand at some future point. In order to minimize this possibility, companies that use the umbrella brand approach often take steps to ensure consistent attention to detail and quality in all products marketed under the same brand name.

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Discussion Comments


How many people here have brought a new product just because they recognized the brand name? Do you think this kind of brand loyalty is good for business, or do you think it is an unfair advantage for corporations who can spend a lot on advertising?


I think it is interesting how marketing under an umbrella brand can be a bit of a gamble for the company. I remember trying a face wash from a very famous company with a whole line of products marketed under the same name. I got a horrible chemical burn from the wash and refused to touch any of their products ever again.

Even though I know that it was probably a fluke, and their customer service was good at helping me with my situation, I was really turned off for good.

Now when they make anything new, I steer clear. I still relate that story to friends when they go to pick up that brand from the shelf.

I think a negative experience can very much taint a person's experience with a company.


A great example of an umbrella brand would be with Sony with how they market all of their electronics under a master name with the idea that they are of higher quality and contain the latest technology.

This worked well with their recent release of VAIO laptops. Generally their products are quite a bit more expensive when compared to most similar no name items, but people are willing to pay.

Why? I think that while their products do often come with upgraded components, much of the additional cost comes from being a recognizable brand with a good reputation.

This could be argued as a fair market advantage, because in many ways, good quality and great warranties are a cornerstone of what makes a brand successful. People pay more for what they see as a safe bet, when it comes to trying something new.

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