Around 9am last Friday, Glossier announced to the one million-plus customers on its email list that it was launching a new brand called Glossier Play. The email linked to the new Instagram account @glossierplay, which featured a single post of the dancer Donté Colley doing his thing. Later that afternoon, @Glossier echoed the announcement to its more than 1.8 million Instagram followers. As of this writing, @glossierplay has over 56,000 followers, which pales in comparison to Glossier’s main account, but isn’t bad given the mothership had a four-and-a-half-year head start.

While there are plenty of unknowns about what Glossier Play will become, the messaging around the announcement (and associated trademarks) identify Play as a beauty brand. But the most interesting part of the launch was not what the company said but how and where it said it—decisions that say a lot about how Glossier thinks about distribution.

When brands launch extensions, they choose to either rely on their existing audience and the spaces and tools that attract this audience, or to create new spaces and tools to attract new audiences. Amazon, for example, uses its eponymous website as the ultimate shopping destination, which opens up a nearly infinite array of verticals and sister sites to shoppers. On Instagram, it has a dozen or so accounts, but almost all of the shopping content is under @Amazon (Amazon Fashion, which has a dedicated account, is the exception). Comme des Garçons, on the other hand, which has more than two dozen different brand extensions, operates one umbrella Instagram account and no online ecommerce, aside from its direct-to-consumer brand CDG. Amazon’s path makes sense for a retailer that believes in scale at all costs and commoditizing products, which encourages centralization, while Comme’s moves make less sense given the company’s already decentralized makeup that would lend itself easily to separate distribution platforms.

Glossier made a dedicated Instagram account for Glossier Play, but is using as the digital home for the ecommerce launch—currently in the form of an email signup. Likely, this form adds a subscriber to Glossier’s main email list, while also tagging the subscriber’s interest in Play. Hosting Play’s signup form on indicates that at least for now, Play will live on, not its own website, and that Glossier’s retail stores will likely distribute the brand. This expectation is also grounded in statements from founder Emily Weiss about her plans to maintain a small number of stores that serve as destinations. Down the line, however, Play-specific popups could appear as well, as one did for Glossier You, the brand’s first fragrance.

The setup above illustrates that Glossier believes it needs a dedicated space for Play to live on its most important social network (Instagram), but not its own website or retail in the same way that Glossier’s main brand does. This framework has a precedent in Glossier’s precursor blog, Into The Gloss, which also lives on a separate but interlinked website, instead of being merged with Thanks to the internet and the ease of hyperlinking, Glossier can strike a much more seamless interplay between these sites than offline would allow, which gives it—and other digital brands—an advantage as they extend into multiple sub brands. In the physical world, it’s harder to seamlessly transition shoppers from different, interlinked brands since it would involve physically going to different stores or different parts of a store. But the internet allows shoppers to go from one to another in a matter of seconds.

As companies launch sub brands, they need to ponder if the benefits of giving a new brand its own space—which requires building new consumer awareness for that property—outweighs the benefits of using existing distribution, which drives traffic to the new brand, but gives it limited space to attain distinction. If it lives in the same space as the mothership, a brand extension will likely grow faster, but this also means it has less space to grow into its own. The distinct presence of Glossier Play on each online platform highlights that Glossier is making distribution decisions specific to each platform, a more sophisticated strategy than a blanket decision across all distribution channels.

While Glossier’s main Instagram account has referenced Play only once (in the form of an announcement), @glossierplay has posted seven times—early proof that Play can develop its own brand identity in its own space. Allowing sub brands to succeed along with the mothership requires the parent company to take a very long-term view—a mentality that Weiss has embraced in her statements over the years.

Individual brands have a somewhat finite growth ceiling before they start to unravel, which often drives expansion into a hub-and-spoke model. While sub brands can unlock more revenue over a longer period of time, they also can challenge the focus of the initial brand—the one that made the company great in the first place. Even so, with more than $100 million in 2018 revenue, plus a recent $50 million fundraising round, Glossier will need to grow with even more intention to keep all of these pieces working together.