Monday, January 13, 2014

Umbrella Organization

A glass-artist friend told me she was in the stages of creating a second online retail shop. It will specialize in equestrian art and jewelry. She is continuing her original shop, too.  Her question to me was this: “Should I create an “umbrella name” to put both “collections” under?”

Answer? Yes. The best scenario is to have one parent company with various product lines.

This is incredibly liberating if you are an artist. It means you can create freely as you wish, then gently guild any creation into the family (product line) in which it is best suited.

Some examples of this scenario are these.
  • Toyota Motor Company
    • Scion
    • Lexus
  • Kris Kramer Designs
    • Charms for Bracelets
    • The Silver Pendant
  • Hummingbird Art Glass
    • Fire Horse Designs
Your parent company has its brand, which is your mark of distinction, your style, and the artistic flare that is unique to you. All your items in all your product lines must be consistent with that brand.  A product line a group of products that possess similar qualities and share a name. The parent company is often a separate name altogether and it acts like an umbrella for the different product lines.The various product lines may require varied approaches to branding and may appeal to differing customers, but together they make up the heart of the company.

Advantages of this structure include the fact that it can make some promotion and marketing more economical. When you come up with a new product line and market it, you are also marketing the parent company and thus all your lines. Marketing tools can be used or combined for all product lines; as in, why invent the wheel more than once? Introducing a new product line is great way to break into new markets. Also, a new product launched under a parent name gains recognition easily as it is introduced in the market. And once the parent company brand has been accepted, new product lines are a way to test new ideas.

Disadvantages might include these. Any bad feedback or publicity for one product is a reflection on the parent company. If one product line does not do well, then it might affect the parent company. Make sure that even if one product line has very different qualities than the others, it does not contradict or conflict with the parent company’s brand, your unique mark of distinction. If it does, it may be an obstacle and make for a bumpy business road instead of a smooth one.

One can identify new product lines in a company by the intended customers, the design, the material, the approach to advertising or promotion, the function, and more. For example, my friend’s new product line, Fire Horse Designs, targets horse enthusiasts and contains her equine-related art.

Consider everything you’ve ever created in your mind for a sorting exercise. You’re going to put the items into groups. Sort them based on one or more criteria. Make sure each one fits into one of the groups. Now pick a name for each group. Viola! You now have a parent company, which is the current name of your studio or business, and product lines, which are the names you’ve given your groups.

How many product lines did you come up with? Hopefully, not too many or else that reveals something about your parent company's brand.

by Kris A. Kramer


Sophia Wright said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kris Kramer Designs said...

Thanks, Sophia!