Expanding Yieldr – Executing an Effective Multi-Brand Strategy

For those of you who have been following us along our journey, you'll know we’re no strangers to change – especially when it comes to keeping our brand fresh. We did a complete rebrand in 2014 and then updated that look in 2016. In between, we’re always making little tweaks and improvements.

We believe a brand should never be static, but a constantly evolving, living and growing entity. Or as branding consultant Scott Bedbury puts it:

“A great brand is a story that is never completely told.”

With this idea of brand fluidity in mind, we set out to create the next evolution of the Yieldr brand.

Background

Like a growing family, our brand expanded and had to open its heart to share some more love. This meant it was time for us to show off multiple products simultaneously – our airline product and our advertising product – while making Yieldr a group entity.

Yieldr would be the corporate umbrella brand with several core businesses branching out from it, which for us are software products built to maximize efficiency by helping its users go directly to consumers.

From here, we had a clear goal – to derive an effective multi-brand strategy for Yieldr and its bespoke products.

To keep ourselves laser-focused, we also agreed to the following parameters:

  • We don’t want another complete rebrand or major brand overhaul.
  • All of our brand equity lies within the existing Yieldr name, logo and identity.
  • We want to keep any product and related branding closely vested to the Yieldr brand.
  • We need to have a future-proof scalable structure.

Branding Approaches

Our first step was to do a little research and learn about the possible branding strategies we could deploy. While branding strategies are bountiful and can be broken down into a number of different structures, we honed our focus in on four primary practices.

Monolithic

This is the cleanest and in some ways the most basic approach. With a monolithic branding strategy, the parent brand is always front and center, followed by what is typically a straightforward product name as an extension.

In the above example, the recognizable FedEx logo is always prominent with the underscoring services nestled underneath. As a side note, the subtle arrow formed by the white space between the “E” and “x” has always made the FedEx logo one of my favorites.

This is an ideal strategy for a company that has complementary services, which in the case of FedEx is shipping.

Endorsed

In this example, the parent brand is also featured in all of the branding. However, more freedom is given to the individual product brand, sometimes even in terms of core colors.

This strategy works for Virgin because it carries a lot of brand equity with its name, yet its products vary greatly and stretch across numerous industries.

However, to build and maintain such a branding structure takes a lot of time, care and consideration.

Free Standing

This is a strategy usually reserved for large corporations who have a lot of products within their portfolio. This approach is most common in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. Procter & Gamble and Unilever are prime examples.

With this approach, the product brand is completely separate from the parent brand, living independently in nearly all forms of consumer-facing communication.

A strategy like this, of course, requires a tremendous amount of resources and bespoke marketing and branding departments.

Hybrid

The last approach we looked at is a hodgepodge of strategies. This is typically the result of an established company growing and expanding its brands and possibly acquiring others. It likely happens as result of consequence.

For example, Amazon has very strong branding but also bought other strong brands such as Zappos and IMDb.

In the above example, one of the most iconic brands is Coca-Cola. In this case, Coca-Cola is both the corporate brand (arising from its original product), as well as a product brand with various offshoots. As time went on, Coca-Cola developed entirely new products, following the typical CPG strategy.

After analyzing these strategies it was pretty obvious that the best approach for us was the monolithic approach, given that we spend a lot of time building brand equity in the Yieldr name and that we’re a small agile team.

Naming the Advertising Brand

After hashing out a clear branding strategy and guidelines, it made it much easier for us to derive a name for our two products – we found ourselves spinning in circles at times.

Our advertising product is one with a lot of history. It has changed a great deal over time. Let me first give you a bit of background so you can better understand where we're coming from.

Advertising has been the backbone of Yieldr since its inception in 2008. The product and services have changed significantly over time, starting with basic ad offers, to becoming a full-scale programmatic marketing platform and now developing into an audience marketplace for brands who want to engage with valuable travel segments.

So when we were considering a name, we had to take all of this into account: the history, the present and the future. Furthermore, we had two other guiding points: the name had to be clear, simple and direct, but general enough to encompass a suite of products. This is where scalability comes into play.

In the end, we were all closely aligned and had a similar mindset. We didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel.

We named this product Yieldr Ads. Remember – we wanted it to be clear, simple and direct. Sometimes the obvious choice is the best one.

As you can see from the image above, this is a strategy that’s worked well for a number of similarly positioned companies.

Naming the Airline Brand

I wish I could say that the naming process for our airline product went as smoothly, but in the end, we got to where we needed to be. To give you a better understanding, let me briefly explain the product.

As opposed to Yieldr Ads, our airline offering has only been around for a few short years. Therefore, it doesn’t have the same legacy. But its role as a slightly more technical product made for a much more niche user base, which presents a different set of challenges.

To be precise, the product allows marketers and revenue managers to gain control of their inventory through data insight and activation tools in order to decide what flight to promote, to whom and with what message.

It was a long process to get everyone aligned on a name. So at some point, we took a step back and agreed on some requirements:

  • Needs to be a short, punchy name in line with Yieldr Ads.
  • Needs to reflect that it’s a product specifically for airlines.
  • Needs to be general enough to fit our whole product suite.
  • Needs to be a name that can grow with our product.
  • Needs to be easy to recall and create a brand around.

As you can see, these are very similar to our requirements for the advertising product. After all, we set out to build a scalable branding framework, so it was important to have synergy between the two.

In the end, we found another three-letter word to represent our product: Yieldr Air.

The Design Process

Now here is where the real fun is. Naming is only a piece of the branding puzzle and design plays a huge role. While we were busy hammering out brand names, we were simultaneously experimenting with some design approaches. You’ll notice that some other brand names that popped up during our naming discussions appear here.

Here was our very first approach. We started playing around with the symbols to identify each product, using the fact that both could be represented by a similar triangle shape.

A paper plane was used for our airline product and an arrow cursor was used for our advertising product. We also used black for the product names to add some contrast to the logos.

Working off the concept of the first iteration, we moved the position of the icon to follow the angle of the letter “Y” and moved the product name to the right side to better balance the group.

With the dotted line, we also experimented with adding an extra "breaking" element between the Yieldr logo and product name.

In our third go, we adjusted the logos to make the advertising icon more closely resemble an arrow cursor and thus differentiate more from the airline icon. The shape and color of the arrow cursor were adjusted again, making it easier to identify. Here we also increased the sizes of the product naming to make it stand out more next to the main brand.

As we went through the design process, we learned that we preferred names like "Fly" and "Media" because they were shorter and stood out more.

In our fourth approach we tried something a bit different, playing around with our original logo lettering. The rough sketches done with the Yieldr lettering didn't look good, but this was just an exercise to see if it had potential.

After discussing it with the rest of the team, we all agreed on having the product naming in completely different lettering to the parent logo. Had we gone down this route, we would have enlisted the work of the lettering expert who helped us with the original design.

Here we started getting closer to what ended up being our final result. Holding true to our belief that short product names would fit us best, we tried out this iteration with “Fly” and “Ads”.

In the meantime, we also got rid of the dotted line that was used to separate the elements. We came to the conclusion that it only added complexity.

We played with the position of the icon, tried different weights of the Brandon font and used the light version of the font in capital letters for the product naming.

With this iteration, we were almost there! After discussing it with the team, we came to the conclusion that capital letters didn’t work well with the product names. To create more of a contrast been the brand name and product name, we went back to using lowercase letters and played around with different variations of the Brandon font.

After trying out the logos in different environments, we decided that it would be good to have two different options:

  • A combination of the Yieldr brand and product names without the icon for platform purposes.
  • The product name isolated with its related icon for website purposes.

Using these three elements altogether – the Yieldr logo, the icon and the product name – would add too much complexity. But having the product name isolated with the icon as support would make more sense. More on this in the final section.

We had a clear strategy hashed out from the last iteration, so here it was just a matter of fine-tuning the font weight, kerning (or in typography-speak, character spacing) and angles. With that, here is our final product!

Tying It All Together

Everything is great in theory, but let’s break down how our new brand family works in practice.

When looking at our different logos and branding elements, we considered how the user would discover and interact with the Yieldr brand. As you can see from the image above, we broke it down into 5 pieces, which I’ll outline below.

Discovery: Within the Yieldr Group-Level Website

This is typically the user’s first interaction with Yieldr, so here we tell them what we’re about, present our purpose and introduce our products. Because the user is already on the Yieldr website, there is no need to include the Yieldr logo with the products. This is made more apparent when looking at the navigation, which we’ll take a look at now.

See: Within Product Page Navigation

As you can see, we went for a universal navigation. This is quite a common approach for companies with multiple brands. Some good examples to look at are Atlassian and Disney.

The top navigation bar is seen on every page, regardless of which product the user is browsing through. Given the hierarchy with the corporate Yieldr logo appearing at the top, we can display the product logo freely on its own in the sub-navigation.

At this stage, this is likely the user’s first close look at one or both of our products, or a returning user's chance to reconnect with the product or learn about new features.

Learn: Within Special Sections - Airline Hub & Blog

Within these pages the user can learn more about us, what we’re doing and the industries we are involved in. Diving deeper into features on our product pages could also be incorporated into this stage. In the future, we’ll be looking to expand with a dedicated resources page on our website.

In order to improve navigation, we also applied the same naming structure as our product branding to our Airline Hub and Content Hub. This way the user more clearly understands where they are and knows that by clicking on the logo, they’ll be sent to the homepage of that particular page instead of going to Yieldr.com.

Experience: In Platform - Ads & Air

At this point, the user is getting a hands-on look at one of our products and is engaging directly with our software, whether it be a walkthrough, a demo, a trial or a session as a paying user.

This is where our products stand alone – our brand and product names appear together as the only branding. In order to reduce complexity and make the user aware that they're using a Yieldr product, we’ve removed the icon in favor of the Yieldr logo.

And then, of course, we have the final step where the user converts and signs up with us. Here we’re happy to present the user with our letterhead, a dotted line and a pen ;)

It was a long path to define, strategize and execute our new branding extension, but we’re very happy with the preliminary result. Most of all, we’re excited to see how the Yieldr brand will continue to develop and evolve over time.

Joseph Vito DeLuca

Joseph Vito DeLuca

Chief Marketing Officer at Yieldr