Understanding brand architecture
Lee Selsick
June 1, 2017
Brand architecture refers to the way that an organisation's brands are positioned one to another and each to the whole.

Brand architecture refers to the way that an organisation's brands are positioned one to another and each to the whole.

The right brand architecture creates efficiencies, coherence and focus; adding value to your consumers and your own business alike. Conversely allowing your range of brands to grow without a plan risks duplication, inefficiencies and brand confusion - creating considerable drag on your growth. The need to consider and apply a brand structure depends partly on the size and the ambition of the organisation, but typically the requirement increases in direct proportion to the size of the company and the number of brands under management. For example, the need might suddenly become apparent as as the business diversifies into new products or areas of activity either through organic growth, by acquisition, which unleashes a range of new brands into the organisation.

That, however, does not mean that you should only plan your brand architecture once your range of products dictates it. Indeed, having a clear brand plan early on in your growth phase will undoubtedly create clarity and focus as you grow, allowing you to integrate new products and services speedily and cost effectively into your portfolio. In fact, having a clear picture up-front of how you wish your brands to be structured will aid your strategic decision making – especially when it come to brand extensions or acquisitions.

The case in favour of a considered brand architecture in larger, established businesses is clearly equally strong. To product based businesses (such as those in selling fast moving consumer goods), brand architecture should be a constant consideration – integral to the overall brand portfolio management.
There are, essentially, three core branding models which can be used to construct brand relationships, though in addition to these, more subtle or sophisticated variations have developed to manage sub-groups of products or services within organisations.

The three core models are:

Monolithic brand structures

Sometimes referred to as a ‘branded house. Whereby there is a single brand around which the stakeholders can rally.

Endorsed brand structures

Sometimes referred to as a ‘house of brands. Whereby a core entity lends its name to endorse or support a number of different brands in the market place.

Independently branded identities

Whereby the individual brands in the portfolio are deliberately positioned to have little or no relationship with one another.

By carefully considering the particular characteristics of each building block, we can construct a brand architecture that encompasses your entire portfolio; makes sense to consumers and employees alike; creates strong marketing and efficiencies; and gives you a framework for the development of your brand strategy over time.

In brief then, brand architecture:

• Has become a critical discipline in modern brand management

• Will create coherence and efficiencies across the product range, adding value to the consumer as well as you own organisation

• Will provide a strategic tool to assist in future planning – especially in terms of brand extensions and acquisitions

• Will provide value and guidance, even if applied from an early stage of growth

• Becomes more and more indispensable as your organisation grows.

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