We’re always working on new products at AdBrite. And of course at some point we ask ourselves, “what should we call this new product?” Specifically, should it be a sub-brand of the parent company (such as, or Google Maps), or should it have its own name (like Gmail).

Recently, we had this discussion about a new thing we’re about to launch. Some people at AdBrite thought that we should launch it under the AdBrite brand. The advantage being that if this new product really takes off, it will lift the core AdBrite brand along with it.

Still others thought the brands should be separate. Specifically, AdBrite’s co-founder (and poet), Gidon Wise, made the the point that sub-brands rarely take off in the first place.

Sure, there’s a lot more to success than a good brand. But would Flickr have taken off if it were called Yahoo Photos? Would YouTube have taken off if it were called Google Video? What about if MySpace were called Fox New Space? I use Yahoo Finance and Yahoo News..but I gotta admit, I’d rather be typing Fool or Digg into my browser.

People like being part of a brand.

Sub-brands aren’t strong. It’s as if they can’t stand on their own two feet. It’s like saying, “hey, this product isn’t that great, but at least it’s part of something bigger.”

And I think that if people aren’t already users of the parent brand, they’ll be apprehensive to try the sub-brand. For example, I don’t use Yahoo’s search engine, thus I feel awkward trying their other products.

Coca-cola’s second best seller is called “Sprite,” not “Lemon-lime coke.” And Coke is the most well-known brand on the planet. But they ditched the brand, and it worked.

Google is fond of naming everything “Google this” and “Google that.” And so far, none of their sub-brands have become market leaders (article here). And Gmail (which isn’t a leader either) doesn’t count, because they were late to the game & there’s a lot of friction getting people to switch email. (and also they were invite-only until a few weeks ago)

Even Yahoo is getting into the swing of things, and is going to start launching stuff under separate brand names.

Does your new product stand by itself? Will people who don’t use your other products, potentially use this one? If so, consider giving it a life of its own.

17 Responses to “Brands”

  1. 1 Dee March 16, 2007 at 10:21 am


    I have an annoyance with your new page design.

    Why didnt you have the flash banner with the sites in our network on the main page be linked to the pages where it gives details on how much to pay for an ad.

    Like the ebaumsworld icon link to

    Its not rocket science get it sorted.

  2. 2 Anonymous March 16, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    In terms of Coke vs Sprite, i think that is more a case of avoiding brand dilution.

    It was less a question of trying to make the Sprite soft drink have a stronger brand, and more a fear of losing the brand focus of coke.

    Mainly, I think the new Sprite brand was a response 7-up’s increasing market share at the time. 7-up was using the marketing of a clear “un-cola” to attack the opposite of where coke is strongest (coke own the dark brown cola mind share). So in that regard, the invention of a new Sprite brand was unavoidable. Coke wasn’t dumb enough to come up with a clear version of coke.

    This is what them edumacated marketers call “flanking”, i think.

    When Coke isn’t trying to Flank a smart competitor, then they do have plenty of sub-brands, like diet code, cherry coke, and so on…

  3. 3 Jim March 16, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Philip, well said. One counter argument would be Yahoo Answers. This site has helped lift the entire Yahoo brand and has been recognized as a win across the industry. The product was the differentiator not the name.

  4. 4 Richard Yoo March 16, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Jack Trout talks about this in his books quite often… its called “brand extension” and its bad. Brands should stand alone.

  5. 6 Ben March 16, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Great article Pud, thanks!

    Very thought provoking and insightful 🙂

  6. 7 Anonymous March 17, 2007 at 8:35 pm


    Have you thought about getting a REAL job?

  7. 8 Ben March 18, 2007 at 1:01 am

    Adding new products into a brand could dillute the brand. Unless the product is closely related to the product then it could be added into the brand.

  8. 9 Anonymous March 18, 2007 at 4:46 am

    What about FC 2.0?

    There is massive fraud out there and the economy is going to hit hard. Be a hero and time FC’s re-emergence right. Sell some ads too boot!!

  9. 10 Anonymous March 18, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I did a google search for my name Philip Kaplan and I came across this site in addition to others. Are you trying to imitate me?

  10. 11 pat March 19, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I don’t think it really matters all that much. Pick a non-offensive name and focus ont he product.

    The biggest offender is Microsoft which calls everything “Windows” even though it expects/hopes users on other platforms will use its stuff.

  11. 12 Anonymous March 22, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    “Sub-Brand” “Lemon-lime Coke” blah blah. You wish like hell you were Seth Godin. You’re trying to talk like him.

    yuo cannot afford.

  12. 13 Anonymous March 23, 2007 at 2:03 am


    I know you are crazy busy and makin’ mad money. Could you please update more often – I really need my daily fix.


  13. 14 Anonymous March 23, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    You can’t compare myspace or youtube with your brand example. They weren’t brands that news corp or google created but brands they simply bought because their brand name was already powerful and valuable.

  14. 15 Anonymous March 23, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    To the anonymous writer who authored, “in terms of coke vs sprite..” Coke WAS “Dumb” enough to come up with a clear version of coke. It failed. Wasn’t it called Crystal coke? or something?

  15. 16 Anonymous March 31, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    I’m with the Slur on this.

    Perhaps it doesn’t apply so much to ‘web’ products, but there’s always the risk that your new product seriously tanks, and drags the original down with it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: