Illustration of Brand Architecture
October 11th, 2016

Brand Architecture—Laying Groundwork for Towering Success

What is Brand Architecture?

Brand architecture is a well-defined structure of brands within a business that defines the relationships between the brands within the organization. It reflects a clear understanding of the market[s], as well as brand strategies of the competition, aligning and supporting the business’s goals and objectives.

Some companies wait until there is a pressing reason to think about brand architecture—often during a rebrand. Sometimes it’s prompted by a merger or acquisition. But the strength of your brand architecture is important to consider regularly, not just as a reaction to an event. Your brand architecture adds to your brand value, expands your market position, identifies opportunities, strengthens your current audiences and expands to new ones, helps you assess which products or services to add or subtract, and, last but not least, increases brand loyalty.

What is Your Architecture?

Brand architecture strategies typically embody one of three structures: a branded house, a house of brands, or a hybrid.

A branded house strategy has one strong brand name that motivates purchases and offers value. An example of this would be FedEx, which contains the brands FedEx Ground, FedEx Office, FedEx Express, etc. under their main corporation. Each brand maintains a strong visual tie back to the parent brand, maintaining a strong identity and shared attributes. Another example would be Virgin, which operates in several business arenas from airlines to music to mobile, but all of its brands function under the Virgin name: Virgin Air, Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, etc.

FedEx Brands

In a house of brands strategy, the company name takes a back seat and the products are the heroes. An example of this is parent brand Procter & Gamble—the company itself is less known to the consumer than its house of branded labels, such as Gillette, Crest, Bounty, and Olay. Each brand possesses a unique brand identity and brand attributes. (Fun fact: P&G has so many brands that they actually have a Wikipedia page. And some of the brands even compete with each other!). Another example here would be Alphabet, whose portfolio includes Google, Google Fiber, Calico, Nest, and more.

Procter & Gamble House of Brands

There is also a combination of these two options—called a hybrid strategy. An example is Marriott: one main brand with themes and elements that carry throughout the branding to several sub-brands. Marriott brands include Courtyard and Fairfield Inn under the main brand, with the Marriott brand appearing (in a minimal way) on the logos for most of its sub-brands.

There are certainly benefits to a hybrid approach—flexibility for growth and control over how closely certain brands are associated with the parent brand. Additionally, hybrid brand architecture is much more affordable than branding and marketing a house of brands, and therefore easier to sustain.

When a brand architecture strategy is prepared correctly, it will lay a solid foundation for years to come. It will maximize your financial investment, as well as align the positioning and value propositions to your appropriate audiences. Sound architecture also serves as an ongoing filter for what’s right for your brand, and what isn’t.

Do you need to evaluate your brand architecture strategy and, perhaps, retool its structure? If so, we can help you assess the best approach, and construct a solid brand foundation that will serve you well for years to come.

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