Brand Architecture Strategy
Brand architecture is defined as the logical, strategic and relational structure for all brands in the portfolio. A key concept of brand architecture strategy is that customers relate to brands at different levels — for example, a corporate (or master brand), endorsed brands, product brands and product descriptors. This allows an organization to create a brand portfolio that appeals to distinct segments or needs states.
Here are a few examples:
Coca Cola Company vs. Coke vs. Diet Coke vs. Diet Coke Caffeine-Free vs. PowerAde (from the Coca Cola Company)
Apple vs. Mac vs. iPod vs. iPhone vs. iPad
The Gap vs. Banana Republic vs. Old Navy vs. Athleta vs. Piperlime. Within the Gap exists Baby Gap, Gap Kids, and a host of individual product brands
The master brand will often carry emotional benefits, with endorser brands conveying rational benefits and target-specific relevance.
Brand Architecture Strategy Objectives
- Clarity. The brand architecture must promote clarity of offering both to the marketplace as well as to the internal organization. Key questions: Will customers understand their purchase and how it relates to other offerings? Are we consistent and fairly single minded in presenting the core focus and benefits of each brand area relative to another?
- Synergy. Brand architecture should allow the organization to deliver against a larger brand promise than any single brand could achieve. Key question: Have we created strategic linkage to provide incremental value (i.e., the idea of 1 + 1 = 3; Honda adds to Accord, Accord adds to Honda)?
- Leverage. A well-managed, strategic brand architecture should provide leverage for a company to extend its brands both horizontally and vertically to capture new customer segments and markets. Key question: Have we enabled brand extension or new brand creation opportunities given the vision for the brand?
- Financial resources – how many brands can the organization afford to support?
- Customer “bandwidth” – how many brands can customers understand?
- Strategic decisions – do special circumstances (partnerships, etc.) dictate tighter or looser brand linkages?
House of Brands vs. Brand House vs. The Right Answer
Managing Brand Architecture
In managing brand architecture, there are several key components to consider: brand architecture audit, brand architecture principles, brand architecture framework, and the brand naming decision tree, as described here.