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What Is Brand Architecture And How Do You Build It?

What Is Brand Architecture?

Brand architecture is the structure of brands within an organization. That is, the build up of different brands under a sole brand, in an organizational structure. It is the way the different brands within an organization are related to, and differentiated from one another. It is also how the sub-brands (brands under the sole brand) support each other, and reinforce the goals of the parent brand to whom they belong. In simpler terms, brand architecture is just how a bigger brand fathers other smaller brands that relate to it. For instance, how Procter and Gamble is the bigger brand, and how Pampers is under it. Now, these sub-brands have a relationship, which is to reinforce or emphasize on the goals of the master brand.

An image showing the virgin brand and its sub-brands in a logo

Virgin brand and sub-brands

The brand architecture of an organization at any time, is to a large extent, a legacy of previous management decisions, as well as the competitions present in the industry.

Some Models

Now that we have an understanding of what brand architecture is, let us look at the different brand architecture models in our present day.

  • Corporate or Umbrella Brands: In this model, it is the master brand that is known to the consumers and stakeholders(employees, shareholders, partners, etc.) These brands may also be used where product descriptions are needed, or in sub-brands. For example; Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
  • Endorsed Brands:These brands have a parent brand (which may be a corporate brand, or umbrella brand,) that endorses a sub-brand. This endorsement adds credibility to the endorsed sub-brand in the eyes of consumers.
The Nestle brand logo illustrating the endorsed brand architecture model

Endorsed brand architecture illustration: Nestle brand logo

  • Branded House: This is a model where a bigger brand has sub-brands that also carry the master brand. An example of this, is FedEx (bigger brand,) with FedEx Freight as a sub-brand. This model is normally used when companies intend to use the bigger brand’s brand equity to help the sub-brand.
An image of FedEx and its sub-brands illustrating the branded house brand architecture

Branded house brand architecture illustration: FedEx brand

  • House of Brands: In this model, there is no, visible relationship between the bigger brand and the sub-brands. Procter and Gamble is a popular example, where Procter and Gamble is the master brand with hundreds of sub-brands like Oral-B and Pampers.
Procter and Gamble brand and sub-brands illustrating the brand architecture model for house of brands

House of brands brand architecture illustration: Procter and Gamble brand

  • Hybrid Brand Architecture: This brand architecture model is a combination of the house of brands and branded house models. The goal of this structure is for the sub-brands to have similarities with the master brand, whilst maintaining their different brand identities.

How To Build A Brand Architecture?

As an organization grows, the cost of marketing multiplies twice its initial cost. It is for this reason that the development of a brand architecture, is crucial to the growth of that organization.

There are things to put into consideration before deciding on which brand architecture to develop. Some of which are;

  • The long term goals of the organization
  • The probability of excelling with chosen model
  • How chosen model will profit the organization

To develop a brand architecture, one must follow the steps below;

1) Research

This is where you make findings on who your consumers are (buyer persona,) what your consumers need, and how you can satisfy them. You are also to find out how they view your brand, their awareness of what you have to offer, and which of your services they are most interested in. This is so that you know what areas to improve on. You are to perform qualitative research, quantitative research, competitive research (to know how your competitors serve your target customers,) brand equity studies, and audits. It is also wise to make research within the brand, to know the strengths and weaknesses of the brand, and how sub-brands interact with each other.

2) Strategize

Now that you know and understand your consumers’ needs and the strengths of your organization, you are to decide what structure would benefit you the most. It is at this point that you decide how the brands and offerings should be presented, and how the organization’s resources are to be used.

3) Implementation

This is the part where you implement all you have found out, and of course, with the strategy you came up with. It is here also, that you assign responsibilities to sub-brands. For this to work out, all divisions have to be in agreement with whatever decisions you make. And this is why it is crucial that you make adequate research, and informed decisions before implementing. It is also important, so that the master brand and all its sub brands are in sync. In essence, you are to create, announce, and implement a blueprint for the organization. The blueprint is to state;

  • The role of each subsidiary (sub-brand)
  • The market of each sub brand
  • The presentation of each brand
  • The affiliation with the master brand
  • An hierarchy for decision-making within the organization

How To Manage Brand Architecture?

It is one thing to plan and implement a brand architecture, and it is another, to manage that structure. Managing a brand architecture is a continuous process. However, we would look at some ways we can manage brand architecture. Let’s go in.

To manage a brand architecture, one must maintain some factors in the structure. Some of which are;

1) Rules

The rights and limits of each sub-brand must be clearly stated and communicated. This information is to be made known to each employee and third party involved with the brand.

2) Responsibilities

The responsibilities of each subsidiary should be clearly stated. This allows for efficiency, co-operation, and absence of effort duplication. It even makes production faster, if you ask me. Every part of the structure should be able to play their roles independently.

3) Assets

The brand’s assets should be used appropriately and carefully. This is because the assets are what keep the organization going. This involves brand equity, recognition, and loyalty. It is wise also, to centralize the brand assets, as this aids accessibility and transparency.

4) Customers

One thing common with brands, is the quest to satisfy customers, and gain their trust. This is why it is very important for brands to maintain good relationships with customers. Brands are to remain sensitive to customers’ opinion about their services. This is so that they can make improvements that appeal to them. The brand architecture of a brand should be flexible(that is, easily reassessed to meet customer satisfaction.) I mean, without the customer, is there really a brand?

The main reason for creating a brand architecture is to profit the brand, whilst serving satisfaction to the market. In essence, spiraling sales to great heights and putting smiles on faces of customers. Make sure you have that on your list of goals, as you begin planning and developing your brand architecture.

That will be all for now. Did you learn something? Be free to leave your comments, and share this article if you loved it!