Ask The Best And Brightest: Sub-Brands?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
ask the best and brightest sub brands

China’s Chery motors has apparently decided that its fruity moniker isn’t strong enough to carry its market ambitions, and it has launched two sub-brands, creatively named Riich and Rely. Riich’s Bentley-aping winged “R” makes no secret of its premium brand ambitions, and China Car Times reports that the sub-brand will offer “technologically rich vehicles at a low price.” Rely looks to be more of a Buick or Volvo-style, entry-luxury brand. Perhaps Chery would like consumers to think of its sub-brand as “reliable”? From the US-market perspective, these branding exercises are quite crude. Not only do they closely copy existing brand imagery (did I mention that the Riich badge looks like Bentley’s?), but their names are also overly literal. So it’s not likely that these two brands will lead Chery’s charge into the global market, but their presence begs a question that cuts to the heart of automotive marketing: are sub-brands ever a good idea? Or are they just usually poorly executed? For every Lexus or MINI which show that major OEMs can branch out of their core competency, there are two Merkurs or Scions warning how pear-shaped branding exercises can get. The fall of the house of General Motors proves that too many brands can be bad juju, but are there niches for brands out there that haven’t been considered? Or do niche vehicles strengthen mainstream brands rather than distract them?

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4 of 28 comments
  • The_Imperialist The_Imperialist on Mar 20, 2009
    @ Martin B: The makers of China's new Riich Soon encountered a copyright hiitch; With great indignation Bentley claimed defamation And sued, proving payback's a biitch.

  • Mcs Mcs on Mar 21, 2009

    I'm not sure if I'd use the brand name Rely. It's been used before. Several women died in 1980 because of the product and it was pulled from the market. Consumers probably wouldn't remember, but personally I wouldn't risk it. They really need to hire a US marketing firm before picking a name for the US.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Mar 21, 2009

    A branch brand won't hold up without a trunk. First, you have to be a consistently successful brand. If not, you don't know how to make a brand work, so starting a second is just stupid. Second, knowing what you have proven you know, you figure out what strengths you have that could allow you to expand into another brand successfully. Third, execute. It's a three step process, and you can fail at any point. Failing at the first one should get you fired by your stockholders.

  • Beater Beater on Mar 21, 2009

    But, the Chinese already have some great brand names! Flying Pigeon! Rong Wei! Clustering Bee! Take advantage of the existing classics, I say. Bah. Who are we kidding. Our upcoming new Chinese autos will be called "Buick". And in another 25 years, us 'muricans will all be in Flying Pigeons and liking it (all made in The Greater North America Free Trade Protectorate, of course).