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The Step-by-Step Approach to Building a Branding Monopoly There's a new route to growth: creating many different individual brands — all with their own names and identities — to make it rain all over the place, everywhere all at once, and cover more ground.

Key Takeaways

  • Visibility is what drives the current marketplace, and a multi-brand strategy, pure and simple, heightens visibility.
  • Let's take a look at why so many modern companies are taking an alternative route to growth.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I've been in the public relations space for more than 15 years now, and one of the most prominent trends I'm seeing lately is one company, one enterprise, marketing itself as many separate entities, each with its own voice, branding and online presence.

I'm not just talking about the biggies that have been around forever, with seemingly independent product lines that are all part of the same "empire," like Nestlé, P&G, L'Oréal and, more recently, Meta. I'm talking about the much smaller, self-contained clients that come across my desk at my boutique lifestyle firm. They, too, more and more, are adopting the multi-brand approach over one unified business identity, and in the process — each in their own way, on their own terms — they're building their own mini-empires.

Let's take a look at why so many modern companies are taking this alternate route.

Related: The Greatness Guide to Building Your Brand and Empire

One trunk vs. many branches

Think of traditional companies like trees: When a growth initiative was launched, it was to fortify the trunk, the central pillar of the business, widening it to make it stronger and digging its roots in deeper with its targeted consumer base.

But an expanding trunk doesn't hold the same appeal it once did. Some burgeoning entrepreneurs today would rather add branches to their company of origin — branches that can actually be far removed from the trunk, enough so to carry their own weight, be fed by their own sources and sprout their own leaves.

It's an approach that upends the traditional business model, not by eradicating parent companies (there's actually still just one ownership body), but by choosing to become known by and to market themselves as distinct offshoots that can stand on their own. At bottom, it's a strategy to maximize market presence, and there are numerous reasons so many companies are embracing it.

Related: What's the Best Way to Legally Structure Multiple Businesses?

Reasons to establish distinct brands

To set the scene for why and how certain companies implement multi-branding instead of centralized expansion, consider one of my clients, a rather successful online retailer of ladies' athletic wear. When it came time to add a line of reusable water bottles … then casual footwear … and then a limited collection of leisurewear, they weren't at all interested in stamping all their new goods with the same logo, adding new tabs to their website and creating new categories to their online store. Instead, they formed individually named companies for each new venture (which they chose to call "partnerships"), each with its own legal entity.

It would have been easier and more efficient to just "add an extension" instead of "starting a new build," but, in their eyes, it wouldn't have been as effective or impactful. In other words, "subsidiaries" are out; "curated" and "customized" brands designed to attract a specific audience are in. Here are eight reasons why:

1. Decreased competition

When you own multiple brands that all operate independently (or at least appear to) in your industry, you decrease the competition in your sector by essentially competing with yourself. As opposed to having one name brand in your market, you have half a dozen, which basically translates to more shelf space in the larger "store" where you're peddling your wares.

2. Increased coverage

Likewise, by gaining more "square footage" in your marketplace by taking up more room with multiple brands, you, in turn, garner more and wider coverage by the people and places that deliver exposure — namely, the media and news outlets that spread the word about any given outfit. Instead of one press release, each enterprise has its own. Instead of one pitch, each brand sends out its own messaging and consequently establishes its own identity.

Related: A Practical Guide to Preparing Your Brand for National Media Exposure

3. The value of variety

When you divide your enterprise up into discrete companies, each is allotted its own personality. That means a new logo, new color palette, and new tagline for every separate tree branch you launch. "Variety is the spice of life," as they say, and the more looks and feels you have, the more you up your chances of aligning with the taste preferences of particular segments of your market.

4. Diversified staff and suppliers

It's not just the outside of distinct brands that benefit from diversification. From the inside, each new venture you embark upon can be assigned its own team and work with its own supply of vendors. This allows you to hire specialists for the job rather than assigning new responsibilities to your existing staff that they might not excel in. This allows you to mix up the pool of materials and manufacturers — anything applicable to your business — specifically by brand. When you bring in new talent, fresh perspectives, and individually crafted business plans, you become a more skilled and savvy machine with more transactional leverage.

Related: 3 Simple Ways Entrepreneurs Can Facilitate Diversification

5. Avoidance of the dreaded "corporate feel"

Massive, powerful and faceless is no longer a good look these days. The public has grown to distrust Big Brother–type conglomerates in lieu of smaller, more compact brands that promise a more intimate, interactive experience tailored to their needs and expectations. Bigger isn't better anymore. To avoid the dreaded judgment of just being a profit-hungry syndicate, rapidly growing entrepreneurs now nourish their individual children instead of feeding the parent company's industry reputation. Most of the time, the buying public doesn't even know (or have to know) that they all reside in the same household.

6. Ability to reach select customers

One big company is trying to access one big client base by throwing as much on the table as they can and hoping a high volume of customers will consume it. But one big company broken up into self-supporting outgrowths can branch off any way they want. For example, one of my clients produces nine product lines, each wholly independent of the other. But only one of those lines promotes itself as entirely vegan. That brand will capture far more attention from the minority vegan population out there. At the same time, the other eight do not lose out on any of the potential majority nonvegan markets.

7. The "playing in different lanes" advantage

Picture a bowling lane. If a multi-pronged business consists of 10 pins and one gets knocked down, they can all go down with it. But if you set up each brand on its own lane and one of those brands takes a hit, the other nine can stay fully upright and intact, no collateral damage. You can even close down a whole lane without affecting the others.

8. Legal and financial factors

Lastly, without going deeply into what's actually a complex issue that warrants a discussion all its own, setting up separate LLCs, say, for each offshoot company offers a good deal of protection both legally and financially. A low-profit arm of the enterprise doesn't fall in the same tax bracket as a high-profit arm. One can even be classified as a nonprofit. Salaries are dependent on individual company's structure, not on one corporate org chart. If one brand gets sued, only that brand gets sued. The list goes on.

Suffice it to say that companies aren't going to put effort into setting up all kinds of distinct entities just for marketing opportunities. Many legal and financial aspects at play can make the option of individual businesses or partnerships worthwhile.

The last word about the multi-company approach

What all of this boils down to is increased visibility. In our present age of influencers and followers, how many eyes see you is what matters most. Visibility is what drives the current marketplace, and a multi-brand strategy, pure and simple, heightens visibility.

It does this by spreading an enterprise over many different playing fields in many locations to engage more participants. It does this by positioning a company not as a dangerous conglomerate threatening to become a monopoly but by sectioning itself into distinct and diverse slices of differently flavored pies. It's all about interacting with the largest pool of people across as many platforms as possible. And it's not just the likely future of empire-building. It's quite possibly already the new model of empire-building.

Emily Reynolds Bergh

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder at R Public Relations Firm

Emily Reynolds Bergh — vintage-shoe hoarder, cycling junkie, & lover of pink drinks — is a marketing & PR pro with 15+ years of experience under her belt. Now the founder & owner of the award-winning R Public Relations based in New York, she’s been featured in numerous publications & podcasts.

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