The topic, Single Brand Strategy, from two weeks ago intrigued a number of readers, so much that I thought I’d clarify some of my thoughts and expand on other aspects.

First, I am not against arts organizations creating sub-brands (names, sometimes logos, and message points for some of your arts organization’s programs, events, series, or facilities). There’s a real need for them (hey, you have to call them something) and sub-brands are a great way to expand people’s perception of a parent arts organization.

Second, I am not against sub-brand logos per se. I just think they should not be so unique that they look unrelated to a parent arts organization’s graphic identity system.

Third, probably the #1 comment I got was, “at times, an organization needs a sub-brand to appeal to a different audience segment. In these situations, an objective is not being achieved because the target audience does not find the parent arts organization appealing for various reasons.” Examples of this might be affinity or advocacy groups within a museum or a performing arts organization. Audience segmentation is the ultimate example: creating marketing plans that appeal to multiple audiences of the parent arts organization using some combination of demographics and psychographics.

Where this might run off the rails a bit, and is my greatest concern, is when a sub-brand begins to look and act like its own arts organization. Presumably when one creates a sub-brand, it has something in common with its parent arts organization, some glue that holds all audiences in common to the parent. Why else would the sub-brand audience be interested in the parent arts organization in the first place?

This takes us to the notion that there is an exchange between a sub-brand and its parent arts organization. Each provides to the other valuable tangible and intangible components that neither could provide on its own without the other.

The sub-brand provides to the parent arts organization:

• An expanded perception of the parent organization’s mission, vision, scope, breath, activities, and values.

• Broader appeal among different audiences and the ability to tap into these audiences that could not otherwise be accomplished without the sub-brand.

• The ability to serve specialized audiences.

The parent arts organization provides the sub-brand with:

• An organizational platform and infrastructure from which to start—the sub-brand doesn’t need to start from scratch.

• Part of the parent’s own brand equity and positive associations, so the sub-brand doesn’t have to start with zero-recognition and zero-brand equity.

• The monetary, human, and organizational resources for the sub-brand to start and to hopefully, eventually flourish.

Finally, if you feel that your sub-brand doesn’t fit with your parent arts organization, as I mentioned in part 1 of Single Brand Strategy, I suspect this is more a deficiency of the parent arts organization than the sub-brand. In this scenario, the sub-brand is successful, but disconnected from its parent. In my opinion, the sub-brand should be brought into the fold from the beginning. The counter-argument is, “But my sub-brand is so different from my parent arts brand.” First, it’s unlikely that the sub-brand will become independent. Second, as outlined, an arts organization and its sub-brand have distinct advantages to gain if they start and remain closely linked to one another.