Umbrella branding lessons from the mouse


Disney is good at a lot of things One is, obviously, staying power. From decorating my nursery, to now my LinkedIn feed, I'm an obvious, life-long fan.

I've been reading a lot about umbrella branding and how it can impact brand equity, future positioning, and yes, staying power. Disney is one powerhouse of an example, with everything from entertainment, tourism, to professional development in their family of brands. They all offer unique services/products/information, but the level of service and quality is implied to be uniform with all other touch points we've had with its parent brand.

For example: fans might not actively think about how interchangeable yet distinct DisneyStyle is from OhMyDisney.

Both of these Instagram feeds have the same content library at their disposal, but how they deliver it is so different. I am bait for both channels.

DisneyStyle is the answer to online lifestyle brands a la Hello Giggles, with blog-like articles on things like live-action Belle's wardrobe being both stylish and sustainable. Early to late twenties millennial women (again, I'm admitting I'm bait) understand the larger conversation surrounding ethical fashion and have very likely seen the 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast around 400x times. 

From there, OhMyDisney (Disney's answer to media powerhouse Buzzfeed), can provide me with some nostalgic fashion tips from the animated version. Same content, different approach. Traffic and affinity increased? Check and check. 

Some conclusions in my umbrella branding/family of brands research from Mickey's example:

  • Know what key platforms speak directly to consumer experiences throughout their lifetime. "Lifetime" can mean literally in Disney's case, or through the lens of a beloved consumer product, like a condiment (Heinz) or facial tissue (Kleenex). 
  • Only employ umbrella branding when you are sure all brands can deliver the same outcome. One cannot compensate for the other in customer service or product delivery. Your corporate logo should be an invite to experience your family of brands, and with that comes a promise. 
  • Operating under one brand implies some efficiencies. Launching new products and services might be smoother, and ad campaigns can start to borrow from one another. Operations is probably easier. But, taking too much similarity for granted could lead to small confusions that add up. For example, what is this brand's customer journey versus it's sibling? Do they get subscribed to the same newsletter or drip program? Noticing where and why they differentiate remidns you that you're working with a family of brands.