What is a Masterbrand

A masterbrand is a specific overarching brand name that serves as the main anchoring point on which all underlying products are based. Masterbranding, one of the main options in branding architecture, attempts to create a strong association between a company's products and what the brand represents. While individual products will always have their own names/brands, it is the masterbrand that contributes to the consumer's belief that the product is different compared to all others in its class. One example of a well-known masterbrand is Virgin.

Breaking Down Masterbrand

A masterbrand, in effect, creates a single corporate trademark for a variety of products in a portfolio. The intent is to link affiliates under the masterbrand even though they operate independently, may be vastly different, or are not unique trademarks. The desired end result is that consumers will more readily identify associated brands with the qualities of the masterbrand. Of course, this strategy works best when the masterbrand is thought of positively by the consumer and the company ensures that there is consistent quality across all brands and products.

Masterbrand vs. Sub-Branding vs. Portfolio Branding

Masterbranding is part of a branding architecture landscape that also includes sub-branding and portfolio branding. Sub-branding can be described as affiliated brands that have little in common with the masterbrand, such as with Disney and its more risqué affiliated studio Touchstone Pictures. In portfolio branding a parent company features a portfolio of brands that are kept separate and distinct. They may even compete with one another so that the parent may better segment the marketplace. Procter & Gamble is a good example of a company that engages in portfolio branding.

A good example of a masterbrand with several competing product offerings is Intel Corp. At one time it offered a full range of computer processors, such as Pentium, Centrino and Core Duo. While each one of these products offers a different level of performance and price, it is the Intel brand that allows a consumer to believe that the chip he or she purchases will have the same high level of quality as all other Intel products.

Masterbrand Advantages and Disadvantages

Masterbranding has a number of benefits, such as better brand awareness and lower marketing costs. It also may facilitate customer feedback and brand mergers. Successful implementation of a positive masterbrand is one way for a business to create an economic moat.

With masterbranding, a company should be aware that some business or product lines may have unique marketing requirements or demands that may not fit well into a single, rigid branding architecture.