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Creating a Sub-Brand for your business

Last month, we covered the various categories of sub-brands, from House of Brands to Hybrid Brands. Then we explored the pros and cons of associating a sub-brand with a parent brand. Today, let’s think about strategy and what design elements go into a sub-brand.

Sub-brand elements

When creating your sub-brand, elements such as typography, logos, color palette, brand messaging, and brand values all play a role in influencing the look and feel of the brand. 


If you want to keep your sub-brand consistent with your parent brand, using the same typography is an easy way to do so. Take Virgin, for example:


If you prefer to use different typography, we’d still recommend that you go for fonts which are compatible and can be used in conjunction with your parent branding. If you issue a company-wide press release sometime in the future, you wouldn’t want your brand names and logos to clash or look incompatible when placed next to each other. For more, check out this article on perfect font pairings.


When it comes to your brand logos, there’s room for creativity. You don’t need to use the same logo (or even the same image in your logo) across the board. Assuming your typography is consistent, this will already indicate to consumers that your sub-brand originates from the same company as your parent brand.

Check out how iku does it. The sub-brands employ different logos, but the way these are laid out are similar, and it’s easy to tell that they’re affiliated.


Color Palette

With color palettes, again, there’s some room for flexibility. Because the color of your logo says a great deal about your brand, companies tend to use different colored logos to appeal to different target audiences. If you want to convey that your sub-brand is optimistic and energetic, for example, you might consider the color yellow. If you want to communicate a sense of professionalism and trust, on the other hand, blue is a good color to use.

For inspiration, check out Marriott’s various logos. Note that the logo for Marriott Vacation Club (which is a brand that’s more recreational, as opposed to corporate) comes with a bright yellow image of a sun, while the logo for JW Marriott is more reserved and less colorful.


Brand messaging

Other elements you want to consider are what you want your sub-brand’s key messages to be and how you want to convey these messages. If you want to err on the side of caution, have the voice and tone of your sub-brand be similar to that of your parent brand. This reduces the likelihood of brand confusion.

Of course, if you want to create a sub-brand that’s distinctive from your parent brand, it’s also possible to switch it up when it comes to your brand’s tone. One company that employs this strategy is Singapore Airlines. If you look at the Singapore Airlines’ website, you’ll see that the tone is corporate-sounding and professional. On Scoot (a subsidiary carrier under Singapore Airline)’s website, on the other hand, the tone is significantly more casual and playful.

Brand values

Last but not least, there’s your brand values. The same idea applies here: you can either have your sub-brand’s values be consistent with that of your parent brand, or you can choose a new set of brand values. The key thing is making sure that these values resonate with your target audience; the goal is to have your customers find your values meaningful.

Creating a non-profit or higher education sub-brand

Given that the non-profit and higher education sectors are both pretty niche, it’s safe to say that your target audience wouldn’t differ drastically, even if you were to create a new sub-brand. It would be a good fit to have a sub-brand that is more unified and consistent with your parent brand, as opposed to something that is worlds apart.


An example is non-profit organization Dream Foundation, which has a separate program called Flower Empower. While the logo of Flower Empower is different from that of Dream Foundation, it utilizes the same typeface and colors, making it easy for clients and donors to tell that Flower Empower is run by the same team behind Dream Foundation.

Thinking of creating a sub-brand for your non-profit or higher ed organization? Start off by establishing the goal of your sub-brand, then decide on each of your brand elements from there. You’ve got this!

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