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VOL. 022

The Role of the Parent Brand in Brand Architecture


Wanted to say thank you to the 70+ of you who have purchased The Beyond Beer Handbook so far. Amazing. Thank you all so much. 

Okay, let's talk about your parent brand and why this is such an important concept to consider as you make Brand Architecture decisions. 

Cody and I recorded a podcast episode on this topic as well if you'd prefer to learn on that format. 

Whenever I'm on a call with a potential client to discuss a new extension, my first few questions are always about their brewery's brand as it exists today (vs. jumping straight to discussing their new product itself). 

I do this because many of the decisions you will make when launching an extension (whether a Beyond Beer product, or intra portfolio with a beer release) revolve around your parent brand (your main brewery’s name, identity and story). 

– Does this new extension carry the same values and promises as your brewery’s parent brand?

– Does it mesh comfortably with the same activity or occasion as your parent brand?

– Does it speak to the same people as your parent brand?

On Protecting Your Parent Brand 

When we help our clients make Brand Architecture decisions, we’re most concerned with protecting their parent brand’s equity. How will this extension add value to, or detract from, the parent? How can you protect your reputation and positioning? To what degree should the parent brand be present on this new beverage? How can your parent brand give credibility to the extension? How many categories can you credibly expand into?  

Other questions we’re working to resolve through this process can include: 

– How far can we extend this brand without losing its core meaning and relevance? 

– Can your parent brand credibly enter this new space? 

– How can you safely grow your overall portfolio? 

Without a strong parent brand, you have nothing to extend. No equity. No goodwill. No reputation. No secret sauce. Nothing. 

This is an important discussion because your parent brand is likely your biggest source of revenue. It’s what brought you to the dance, so you need to be careful that you don’t damage it when launching new products.

To put a fine point on this, when launching a new extension, you have to always consider how it impacts your parent brand and positioning. 

It is our job as brand builders to determine to what degree the parent brand comes through on new products, whether or not this is strategically-sound, and what approach will give you the best chance for success. 

The below images demonstrate a variety of ways your parent brand can serve (or not serve) as a "purchasing driver." Prost and Rogue's brands are the main purchasing drivers on their respective packaging. But on both AlpenBlume Hard Seltzer (by Prost Brewing) and Wild Basin Hard Seltzer (by Oskar Blues), the parent brands fall back as subtle endorsements, allowing the product brand itself to act as the main purchasing driver.

Your Parent Brand as a “Purchasing Driver” 

A purchasing driver is the primary reason someone buys a product. Your parent brand and new product brand can both play this role depending on how you position the relationship. 

An important question here: are people buying this product because it is explicitly from your brewery? In this case, your parent brand is the primary purchasing driver. 

Or, is someone buying this new product because of its own specific style or brand (and the fact that it’s produced by your brewery is either a nice bonus or doesn’t factor into the decision at all). In this case, your new brand is the main purchasing driver. 

Beverage Brand Architecture Continuum 

This will be easier to grasp by reviewing our Beverage Brand Architecture Continuum. 

Click here to view this larger on the Beyond Beer Handbook site. 

This Continuum is comprised of three core Brand Architecture approaches: the Branded House, Sub / Endorsed Brands and a House of Brands. There’s a fourth overarching Architecture approach as well, the Hybrid Brand, but this is simply a blending of any of these other strategies as needed. 

These strategies are the basic building blocks for any growing brand.

Note the red color in the above infographic—that's your parent brand. On the left side of this illustration, on the Branded House and Sub Brand side, you'll see that the parent brand is the most prominent element on the packaging. In both of these cases, your parent brand is the main purchasing driver (why people buy that product). 

As you make your way further to the right on this continuum, into the Endorsed Brand and House of Brands territory, the parent brand's role diminishes to nothing.

This is where the product brand itself takes center stage with the parent brand either acting as a subtle endorser (a guarantee of quality or a shared set of values, etc.) in the case of an Endorsed Brand) and falling away entirely in the case of a new brand.

Below are a few great examples of how the parent brand can ebb and flow in importance. Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams both act as a purchasing "co-driver" which makes 'Little Thing' and 'Wicked' Sub Brands. 

Stateside Hard Seltzer is a subtly Endorsed Brand (made by Badger State Brewing) and HARD MTN DEW is a straight Brand Extension.

Actionable Takeaways

There are two forces competing with each other when launching new products. 

We want to release this new product with as big a jump as we can—achieve real velocity and start to create a platform for future growth.

But we don't want to do that at the expense of the parent brand.

You need to think long term about these Brand Architecture and positioning moves.

Grab a copy of The Beyond Beer Handbook to learn more about this continuum and the various strategies your brewery can use to scale your brand.

Around the Shop

Rebranding Mission Brewing [Podcast]

Here's a fun podcast episode with our FIRST EVER guest, Mission Brewing's CEO, Dan Partelow. 

We discussed their entire experience going through a rebrand and got into some practical advice for other breweries who are considering this process. 

Demystifying the Beverage Co-Packing Process

We've worked with dozens of beverage startups who came to market via a beverage co-packer. And we've heard from many folks that this process seems like a black box—what's entailed, what will it cost, how long will it take, etc.?

To shed some light on this process, we sat down with Mark Gallo of Nor-Cal Beverages to discuss the ins and outs of co-packing.

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

Craft Beer, Rebranded

Craft Beer, Rebranded and its companion Workbook are a step-by-step guide to map out a winning strategy ahead of your rebrand. Building on CODO’s decade of brewery branding experience, this book will help you weigh your brand equity, develop your brand strategy and breathe new life into your brewery’s brand.

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