Brand Dictionary: Brand Architecture
Brand Dictionary is a series that covers the basic elements of brand and branding.
We read a lot of literature about the branding industry; how the world’s top brands are performing, the newest trends, and the latest news in brand valuation. What we have come to discover is that many people talk about branding, but not many people truly understand branding. Branding is not a logo. Or, a slogan. Or, an icon. And, it’s not an advertisement. So, the question is, “What is it?” Here’s a quick back-to-basics branding guide, starting with Brand Architecture.
We like to say your brand’s future lies within its Brand Architecture framework. Brand Architecture defines the roles and relationships between the various brands in an “owned” and extended family or portfolio of brands. It also helps organizations rationalize how its portfolio options are organized and presented. Brand Architecture is based on two core elements, organizing principle and portfolio strategy.
Choosing an organizing principle is the most important element of Brand Architecture because it defines the most effective way to group brand offerings based on how your customers interact with your company. Using an outside-in perspective based on how customers choose (not how your company is organized internally) helps create the story that an organization wants to tell about its brand. Your organizing principle is also a great way for your brand to say something unique about yourself and how you do business.
Portfolio strategy describes the relationship between all of the brands in the portfolio―both among one another and to the master brand. It can range from multiple, distinct brands―a “house of brands” like Johnson & Johnson or P&G―to a unified consistent portfolio―a “branded house” like GE or Virgin.
Having a clearly articulated Brand Architecture strategy is vital because it answers the following questions:
- What is the correct number of brands you should have in your portfolio?
- What is the position of each brand and what role or purpose does it play?
- What is the best relationship or link between all of your brands?
- What are the strategic and financial implications of these relationships?
It is important to think about Brand Architecture in a more robust way. Beyond asking “how do the pieces fit together?” also consider “how can I make it as easy as possible for customers, employees, partners, shareholders and others to seek me out and develop a meaningful relationship with my brand?” This will guide you as you create the richest and most well-defined architecture for your brand.
Can you think of any best practice―or bad practice―Brand Architecture examples?