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The classic example of this in my mind is the relationship between Lexus and Toyota. At least in the United States, Lexus is not presented as "Lexus... by Toyota". From a newcomer's perspective, it is a fully independent entity.

For Toyota, Lexus was targeted at a specific market segment, sales to which might have been adversely impacted by using the Toyota name.

The term I thought of for this was "house brand", but googling suggests that term's meaning is generally confined to supermarket generics like "Sam's Choice".

Can someone please help me properly name this brand relationship?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Wikipedia's article on brand architecture suggests the term individual product brand for such cases:

Individual branding, also called individual product branding or multibranding, is the marketing strategy of giving each product in a portfolio its own unique brand name. This contrasts with family branding, corporate branding, and umbrella branding in which the products in a product line are given a single overarching brand name. The advantage of individual branding is that each product has an image and identity that is unique. This facilitates the positioning of each product, by allowing a firm to position its brands differently.

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excellent, thank you! – Andrew Heath May 31 '11 at 2:28
Except that Lexus wouldn't be an individual product brand. Lexus is a family brand (multiple car models). – MSalters May 31 '11 at 13:39
I'm not sure that Lexus qualifies as a family brand since the models aren't (strongly) marketed by their brand names: people who know Lexus might recognize "the new LS is great", but not the general public. Other car makers use stronger model branding, though, like Chevrolet's Corvette, Suburban, and Silverado; they're both part of the Chevrolet individual brand (from General Motors) as well as being part of the Chevy family brand. My research, however, did not reveal a name for something that is both, and the OP asked about the sub-brand part. – Matthew Frederick May 31 '11 at 19:48

In the motor trade this method of branding is usually called a marque. Presumably motor vehicles are expensive enough to justify a hifalutin' synonym for brand.

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