What is brand architecture and how can it benefit your business?
When it comes to branding, many businesses understand the importance of a strong brand strategy. But what about brand architecture?
Brand architecture is an important part of any successful business’s branding strategy – it provides structure and guidance for how you organise and communicate your various brands and products. It helps create consistency across all touchpoints while also allowing each brand, product or service to have its own unique identity.
When done right, it can be a powerful tool that helps you get the most out of your branding efforts. Read on to learn more about what brand architecture is and how it can benefit your business.
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What is brand architecture and why is it important?
At its core, brand architecture is a framework for understanding the relationships between your different brands, products or services. It helps provide structure to how you brand, communicate, market and sell each of your products or services.
Brand architecture can be beneficial to businesses of any size, from sole proprietorships to large corporations. It helps to create clarity in the market, allowing customers to easily distinguish between offerings and make informed decisions about what they are buying.
For larger companies with multiple products or services, architecture can also help unify their brand portfolios and create a cohesive customer experience.
Brand architecture includes aspects like brand hierarchy, brand loyalty, brand recognition and brand messaging. It also helps you better understand how to use different branding strategies for each of your products or services.
With brand architecture, you can easily organise your portfolio of products or services in a way that makes sense and is easy for customers to understand. This will help you create brand recognition and brand loyalty, as well as stand out from the competition.
If you don’t have a clear brand architecture, it can be difficult for customers to understand your product or service offerings. If there's no connection between your brand's offerings, it can lead to confusion and even strained customer relationships.
What are the benefits of well-defined brand architecture?
The benefits of having a well-defined brand architecture will vary depending on your particular business needs, but there are some key advantages that apply to all businesses.
Enhances customer experience
Clear brand architecture ensures that customers have an easy time navigating between different brands and products. It also makes it easier for them to trust and recognise your brand.
Improves recognition & visibility
A well-structured brand architecture will help people quickly identify and differentiate between different brands in your portfolio, making it easier for customers to build a connection with the products or services you offer.
Boosts marketing efforts
Well-defined brand architecture creates opportunities for cross-promotion, allowing you to leverage the strengths of each brand and achieve higher visibility in the market.
It allows you to create a compelling brand story and brand messaging tailored to each of your products or services. This will help you better communicate the unique benefits of each product and target them to specific audiences.
It can help you simplify decision-making when it comes to branding and marketing. With a well-defined brand architecture in place, everyone in your organisation will know exactly how to brand and market each product or service.
The most common brand architecture types
There are four main types of brand architecture: monolithic, endorsed, house of brands, and hybrid. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages which should be considered when devising an architecture strategy for your business.
Monolithic brand architecture, also known as 'branded house', is a brand architecture type in which a single brand strategy, master brand name and identity are used across all products, services and channels.
This type of brand architecture allows businesses to create strong brand recognition as customers can easily identify the brand with its unified look and feel.
This type of brand architecture is ideal for larger companies that have multiple products or services and need a unified brand strategy across them all.
An example of a monolithic brand architecture is Coca-Cola, which uses the same logo, colour scheme and messaging across all its products.
House of Brands
House of brands, also known as 'family branding', is a brand architecture strategy that uses multiple brand identities to differentiate different product lines or services offered by a business.
The main benefit of this brand architecture is that it can help customers easily differentiate between the different products and services on offer.
It involves creating separate brand identities such as logos, colours, fonts and brand messaging for each brand, and using them consistently across all brand touch points.
House of brand architecture is ideal for businesses with a wide range of products or services that target different customer segments. It can help customers quickly identify each brand and what it has to offer, making it easier for them to make purchasing decisions.
This type also works well when businesses want to create brand loyalty among customers who might otherwise be brand agnostic. By assigning separate identities to each product or service, customers can easily identify and become loyal fans of the brand they prefer.
An example of a house of brand architecture is Unilever, which has multiple brands for each of its products such as Dove and Lipton.
Endorsed brand architecture is a brand strategy that involves using the master brand to endorse or 'approve' the use of sub-brands.
Typically, this approach is used when the master brand is more prominent and better established, using it to provide credibility and support to the sub-brands. The sub-brands may have their own distinct brand identities that are unique to each brand touchpoint, but they're still linked back to the master brand.
This brand strategy helps customers easily identify and remember each brand, while still creating brand loyalty and recognition across the portfolio.
An example of an endorsed brand is Kellogg's, which has distinct brand identities for each product line such as 'Special K' and 'Crunchy Nut', but still features the master brand.
The key difference between monolithic and endorsed brand architectures is that the former uses a single brand name for all products and services, while the latter uses the master brand to endorse and support the sub-brands.
Hybrid brand architecture is a brand strategy that combines elements of both monolithic frameworks and house of brands to create a unified brand experience across all products or services offered by a business.
This type of architecture is best suited for businesses that want to create a strong brand identity, while still allowing flexibility for individual branding elements. It involves creating consistent brand elements such as logos, colours, fonts and brand messaging across all brand platforms, while also allowing for separate brands to be created.
An example of a hybrid brand is The Coca-Cola Company, which has a strong brand identity across it's Cola products, while also allowing for individual product identities such as Fanta and Sprite.
What type of brand architecture is right for you?
Determining the right brand architecture strategy for your business will depend on the type of products or services you offer, and the brand recognition you want to create.
If you’re looking to create strong brand recognition across all your products and services, monolithic brand may be the best option.
If you have different product lines that target different customer segments, house of brand architecture may be the way to go. And if you want to create brand recognition and loyalty without limiting brand flexibility, a hybrid brand framework may be the best choice.
Key components of a brand architecture
A master brand, parent brand or umbrella brand, is the overarching main brand identity that encompasses all products and services offered by a business. It’s often used to create brand recognition, loyalty and trust among customers.
Sub-brands are identities created for each product or service offered by a business. They are used to differentiate brand offerings from one another. This allows businesses to target different customer segments more effectively, and create brand loyalty among customers who might otherwise be brand agnostic.
By assigning a separate brand identity to each product or service, customers can easily identify and become loyal to a specific brand, while still retaining brand recognition and loyalty across the portfolio as a whole.
An example of a successful sub-brand strategy is Procter & Gamble, which uses sub-brands such as Pampers and Tide to create brand loyalty among customers.
Brand hierarchies are the structure that connects all brand identities in a brand's portfolio. They provide clarity on brand associations, relationships and hierarchy between brands for customers.
Brand extensions are brand identities created for products or services that fall outside the scope of a brand’s core offering. They can be used to target new customer segments, expand into new product lines or leverage brand recognition and loyalty from existing customers.
An example of a brand extension is Apple’s foray into music streaming with the launch of Apple Music.
Tips on how to develop brand architecture
Creating a successful brand architecture takes planning and consideration. Here are five tips to help you develop an effective brand architecture for your business:
1. Understand your brand identity
Understanding your brand identity is key to developing an effective brand architecture. It will help you define the core elements of your brand, and determine which type of architecture is best suited for your business needs.
It’s also important to consider the brand recognition you want to create, as well as the flexibility you need in order to target different customer segments more effectively.
2. Consider customer segmentation
When creating a brand architecture, you should consider how different customer segments will interact with the brand. This will help you create brand identities that target specific customer segments more effectively.
3. Define brand hierarchies
Brand hierarchies provide clarity on brand associations, relationships and hierarchy between brands for customers. They should be developed with the customer in mind to ensure brand recognition and loyalty is achieved.
4. Create a brand architecture diagram
A brand architecture diagram is a visual representation of how all brand identities interact and relate to one another. It provides clarity on brand associations, relationships and hierarchy between brand elements for customers.
Creating a brand architecture diagram is the best way to communicate brand relationships to stakeholders.
Here's a basic example of a house of brands architecture diagram for Unilever:
5. Monitor brand performance
It’s important to monitor brand performance over time to make sure that brand elements are consistent, brand messages are unified and customers have a strong understanding of your brand identity.
What's the difference between brand hierarchy and brand architecture?
Brand hierarchy is the organisational structure of a brand, while brand architecture is the strategy used to create brand recognition and loyalty. Brand hierarchy is used to group different brands, products or services in an organised way so that they can be easily identified by customers.
Brand architecture also includes brand messaging, identity design, brand positioning, and brand experience, among other elements. It's used to create brand recognition and loyalty by providing a consistent brand experience and establishing brand equity.
What's the difference between a brand portfolio and brand architecture?
Brand portfolio is the collection of brand assets owned by a business, while brand architecture is the strategy used to create brand recognition and loyalty. A brand portfolio typically includes logos, trademarks, brand names, websites, products or services.
What is a brand architect?
A brand architect is an individual who specialises in brand strategy and the ideation of a company's brand architecture. They are generally responsible for designing a brand's core identity, creating marketing materials, branding products or services, and managing brand campaigns.
Brand architects use their expertise to analyse the market and competition, create effective brand strategies, develop brand architecture models, develop creative designs, and manage brand campaigns.
They help businesses create brand recognition, brand loyalty, brand equity, and competitive advantage through effective brand strategy and architecture.
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Brand architecture is an effective way of creating brand recognition, loyalty and trust among customers. It allows businesses to differentiate brand offerings from one another while still retaining brand recognition and loyalty across their entire portfolio.
By carefully considering brand identity, customer segmentation and brand hierarchies, businesses can create a brand architecture that achieves the desired goals. Finally, brand performance should be monitored to ensure brand elements remain consistent and customers understand the brand identity.
By understanding brand architecture and how it can benefit your business, you’re taking the first step towards creating a successful brand identity that customers can trust.
Mole has been working in the design industry for over 13 years, and in that time gained a wealth of experience creating powerful brands