Choose the right brand architecture
Houses need architects, brands need designers, right?
In an increasingly fast paced, international business world it’s not enough to create a visual identity, a value statement and some marketing materials and call yourself a ‘brand’.
Consumers are often confused with the sheer amount of information, marketing campaigns and branded activity coming their way on digital and traditional media – the brands who define themselves most clearly will get the greatest rewards. This is the job of the brand architecture.
A family, a house or an ingredient?
For larger companies, it is critical to separate different product ranges, business services and company structure. Not only to avoid consumers becoming confused, but to enable marketing and brand strategy to be more focussed and better executed. There are several approaches to structuring brands that will be appropriate for different purposes:
The best known example of this is ‘Intel Inside’. When a company provides a product or service in conjunction with other businesses who have ‘first contact’ with the consumer, brand recognition and brand benefits (and therefore brand value) can be difficult to develop. Intel, by using their marketing muscle, introduced the ‘Intel Inside’ programme to help promote computer manufacturers as uses of the best (intel) technology, and Intel get more brand recognition and into the consumer recognition, and therefore driving more sales of Intel powered computers. For smaller companies, a partnership approach, where both sides benefit from extra resources and exposure, can work equally well and build brand value and increase sales on both sides.
Brand House and Brand Families
Other companies look to create structure to their brand in the same way they might structure business divisions or business units, with a ‘parent’ brand and child brands. This ‘Brand House’ groups related brands together, with each sub brand having some autonomy to develop along their own unique path, without straying away from the parent brand values.
Smaller companies can use this same approach for related products or services, when they want to distinguish between distinct benefits or between target markets without losing the clear link to the company’s values and core skills.
House of Brands
On the occasion where a portfolio of companies, products or services exist alongside each other, the ‘house of brands’ approach is more appropriate, for example for The Coca Cola Company or Unilever.
This gives smaller brands higher prominence, and the parent brand accumulates brand recognition and therefore value across many different touchpoints and markets. This presents opportunities for the parent brand to introduce complementary initiatives with a greater chance of success.
But whether you are a small company with a range of services that need to stand by themselves, or focus on different markets, getting the brand architecture right will enable better marketing focus and better strategic decisions about the growth of the company, or rather, which parts of the company that have the most potential to grow.