What is brand architecture?

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:

  1. Monolithic brand structures (sometimes referred to as a ‘branded house’): whereby there is a single brand around which the stakeholders can rally.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Next Brand Green

The world is rapidly awakening to environmental sustainability as a key business paradigm - one which will help define winning brands in the decades to come. Next is now able to deliver on sustainable design programs.

Going green in, meaningful, tangible, and transparent ways is now demanded by a broad group of stakeholders including consumers, corporate customers, investors, financial service providers, employees, and regulators - each of which sets its own environmental performance expectations.

Whilst sustainability is a proven means to drive the bottom line through efficiencies in resource use, savvy brands are leveraging environmental sustainability as a strategy to increase market share, their price premium, or both.

However, brands are defined by their performance and stakeholders are growing ever more capable of discerning substantive environmental initiatives from superficial “greenwashing” campaigns.

To help you navigate to this issue, Next is partnering with Malk Sustainability Partners – a consultancy focussed exclusively on working with clients to evaluate their environmental performance and to develop strategies that harness the power of environmental sustainability – to bring a synergistic way of integrating organisational environmental change into your brand strategy in a meaningful and efficient way.