It’s usually a term applied to describe a way of branding a number of different products or services under one name, one identity. Think Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Games within the Virgin group. Or the Axe grooming products range from Unilever. Or the ‘i’ products or “Mac” machines from Apple.
We could talk about the pros and cons of such an approach…
Umbrella marketing works best with STRONG brands. It can make it easier and more efficient to promote products because consumers already know the brand, like the brand and are more open to new products from that brand. In theory, simpler for advertising and marketing – and potentially cheaper.
The way Apple develops and markets its iconic products is a great example of this – iPod, iMac, Macbook and iPhone keep evolving.
There are downsides to umbrella marketing, of course. Typically it only works if the brand is strong enough and products are relatable – selling a shaving gel, garden spade and car air freshener under an umbrella marketing name is unlikely to work.
There is also the risk that one bad product can damage the entire range. And if the company already has a similar product – the new umbrella-branded one might dent or crush sales of that one. A form of cannabalism.
But that’s not the umbrella marketing I wanted to talk to you about.
Take a look at the picture – let’s talk about that instead…
This is a different kind of umbrella marketing.
It looks like the city might be hosting a Mary Poppins convention. But take a closer look.
This is a clever piece of marketing. Umbrella marketing of a different sort.
And here’s why it is such a good idea.
This street scene is usually smart yet monotone. It could be any shopping street in the country.
With the umbrellas you get something ‘new’, something fresh, something a bit different. They:
- Add a welcome splash of colour to the precinct
- Grab the public’s attention
- Make people stop. Look up. Stare
- Encourage people to take a photo. Or two
- Make people want to share the photos in an instant – with friends, colleagues or family
- Create a talking point
- Create a buzz
- Create a warm, colourful atmosphere
- Work as a piece of art
- Work as a proven provider of shade
- Work as practical protector against a short shower of rain
- Draw in the curious
- Draw in the crowds
- Draw in the credit-spending shoppers to this part of the city
- Make the news in the local newspapers
- Create PR for the city and its leaders
- Generate chatter and comment on Social Media
All that from just a bunch of umbrellas.
If you are of the sceptical type, you might be thinking and asking “Yeah, but how much did all those green, orange, blue, red, yellow and purple brollies cost to put up?”
Which is a fair and valid question.
I don’t know the answer. I’m sure I could find out in some council minutes.
But let me ask YOU a different question…
How much EXTRA revenue do you think this art installation or marketing stunt is going to bring into the pictured city?
Some council ideas are plain stupid. This one I really like. Chances are, this bunch of brollies will pay for themselves many times over. People see it. Friends, family or colleagues tell them about it. Media and Social Media do their thing. Before you know it…
MORE people visiting the city centre.
MORE people visiting this part of the city centre – to see the multi-coloured mesh of umbrellas.
MORE people going into the shops … MORE people buying in the shops … MORE people visiting the attractions … MORE people sipping tea or coffee in the cafes, most also partaking of cake or treats … MORE people eating out in restaurants or pubs.
This umbrella marketing idea is so simple. Yet so cool. So colourful. Such fun.
It suggests the people promoting this city know what they are doing – if not all of the time then at least some of the time.
They are daring to BE DIFFERENT.
They have an objective in mind – it’s not something being done ‘just for the sake of it’.
They understand that to get RESULTS out you have to put something IN. To achieve a BIGGER outcome you have to be prepared to invest.
It’s something this local authority appears to grasp better than many businesses…
Businesses which do NO marketing.
Businesses which do one type of marketing only.
Businesses which do marketing but do not know if it’s working or not.
Businesses which know their marketing is failing – yet change nothing, do nothing different.
Businesses which run marketing so basic, bland and boring they probably send themselves to sleep – let alone their prospects, clients and customers.
It could all be so different.
If only the desire, commitment and willing were there.
Bravo to this city for daring to be different.
Now you’ve seen this picture you’ll remember the brollies. The wonderful brollies in Bath.
What will you do differently to help your business?