Does your brand architecture work for you, or your competitors?

In last week’s #keeptheballrolling campaign post we discussed brand identity, this week we’re looking at brand architecture.

In the light of Covid-19, many businesses are looking to diversify as part of their survival strategy.

Examples include manufacturers applying their 3D printers to make healthcare equipment, upscale restaurants offering takeaways and gyms streaming live workouts into your living room. But how should these new products and services within the organisation, and how should they be branded?

Inevitably there will be casualties with businesses facing mergers and acquisitions. Companies will need to look at re-establishing and communicating a clear brand hierarchy for their restructured businesses, ensuring that all the stakeholders, internally and externally, understand the relationships between the new corporate entities, products or services.

What is brand architecture?
Brand architecture is the visual representation of the corporate brand, sub-brands and product brands, showing how they are organised and how they inter-relate with each other.

Brand architecture is a lot more than just organising and producing a nice diagram, it is a brand management tool that helps clarify and build relationships with all stakeholders, employees and customers.

Internally, employees may not be clear about the different, but interconnected, parts of the business, missing opportunities to cross-sell and build brand equity.  Externally, your customers may be equally confused, leading to a lack of trust and loss of market share.

The structure you choose for your brand architecture depends on your business goals, your budget, the relationship with your customers and your internal structure and culture.

Whatever you decide is the right model for you, it’s important to commit to a particular direction, invest in it and intentionally manage your brands in order to deliver a consistent experience for long-term growth.

So, what are the main types of brand architecture?


Branded House/Monolithic
This is where the main corporate (or umbrella) brand is leveraged for all offerings, sharing the positive brand equity from the corporate brand to support and grow the other brands within the brand structure.

Even if the logos are visually different, it should be immediately clear the sub-brands are part of the master brand’s structure.

Examples of this type of brand hierarchy are Virgin, where offerings range from healthcare and transport through to radio stations, all benefitting from the perceived value of the Virgin brand. In the B2B world, Accenture and FedEx clearly maintain the master brand’s identity but use colour to differentiate their sub-brand’s offerings.

The pros of this model are that, with a well-perceived corporate brand, it maximises resources and leverages brand equity across all products and services.

The cons are that it makes it harder to enter innovative or higher-risk markets, because it could over-stretch or damage the Master brand, and hence the sub-brands.

Example projects: Nuance 


House of Brands
This model allows for a wide variety of unique brands, each with their own loyal customer following and their own brand identity, under the assurance and stability provided by the corporate brand.

A good example is Proctor & Gamble, where diverse high street brands like Pampers, Duracell and IAMS can all exist under one roof.

The pros of this type of brand architecture are that you can offer more choice across a large variety of products, services and price points, allowing you to gain more market share overall. It also allows organisations to dip their toes into new ventures, without obvious immediate connections to the corporate brand. Sub-brands can be acquired or sold-on with little effect to the master brand.

However, this model can sometimes lead to brand confusion and requires larger budgets and resource to support the marketing activities for all the different brands.

Example projects: Royal London


Of course, life is rarely black and white, so a mix of both of the above may be the solution for your organisation.

This approach allows a company to expand its market share to different segments within an industry while maintaining corporate brand visibility where desired. It harnesses the power, credibility and strength of the corporate brand but allows for the uniqueness, distinction and specialisation that come with owning strategic or sub-brands.

A good example here is Coca-Cola, which is home not only to its ‘one brand strategy’ Coca-Cola drinks but also Innocent Smoothies and Sprite.

Within a hybrid approach, you could also consider endorsed brands, where the organisation uses the main corporate brand to endorse some of its offerings, or sub-brands, where the name and brand identity have a strong visual link with the parent brand.

Example projects: ScotscapeNWCD


We hope you have found our post useful. Do follow us on our website and social accounts. We will be back next week with our thoughts on Tone of Voice.



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