18 Mar 2019 - Dennis Egen

What is Brand Architecture, Anyway?


Let's face it: The term "Brand Architecture" sounds like one of those fancy marketing terms that goes along with "synergy" and "best practices." But, when your CMO comes to you and says that you need a strong brand architecture so that your customers can have a clear understanding of the value proposition for the entire brand family, what does that really mean?

Brand Architecture is the organizational structure of the various brands in your company, and how they relate to each other. When you've got a strong brand architecture, your customers can develop opinions and preferences for an entire family of brands by interacting or learning about only one brand in that family.


3 Types of Brand Architecture

There are three types of brand architecture: Monolithic, Pluralistic and Endorsed. Monolithic is one core brand, and everything else falls under it. FedEx is an example. They have one logo, regardless if it's for Freight, Ground or Trade Networks. The only difference is the color of the logo.

Pluralistic is the opposite. In this design, there are several well-known brands that fall under the ownership of one company. Yum Brands, for example, owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. Most people don't recognize the main brand, Yum, on its own.

Finally, Endorsed brand architecture is where the main brand is the most notable one, and the sub-brands under it rely on the image of the parent brand. Nestle, for example, owns Nespresso, Nestea and Nescafe.


Brand Architecture is Not Optional

In the age of consumerism, brand architecture is indispensable. This is true for smaller brands, too. Why go to all the trouble to create a brand architecture? So that you can benefit from the clarity and structure that understanding your brands and their relationships with each other can bring.


Steps to Building a Successful Brand Architecture

There are three basic steps to building a successful brand architecture. First, look at your current strategy, and find out what is and isn't working. How do you want your customers to see your company and interact with it?

Are you offering a singular solution for various problems for a target group of people, such as software products? Or, are you offering a diverse set of solutions that attract different customers in one industry, such as a hotel chain? Your answers will guide you to where your brand should be.

Second, pinpoint the model that's right for your business. Does your budget support creating completely separate brands under the umbrella of your parent brand? If you're thinking of choosing a Pluralistic design, for example, you're going to need to have the resources to develop and market as many different brands as you've got product lines. You might benefit from Endorsed architecture instead.

Finally, create a visual and verbal blueprint for each of the brands. Depending on the model you chose, you want to create a consistent brand image for each brand within the architecture, so that the integration and management of the brands are efficient.

Overall, understanding brand architecture and how to use it allows your company to reap the benefits that can drive growth.