Brand Architecture Defined

Today, another question from the BSI Emailbag. Anton, a marketing major/future marketer from Manila, Philippines asks:

'Brad, I am a daily reader of Branding Strategy Insider and have a question about brand architecture. Is there a hierarchy or structure you can share? I appreciate your advice.'

Anton, thanks for asking. As you probably know, brand architecture describes how a family of brands relate to one another. It indicates how many levels of branding there are (hopefully, no more than two or three), which brands are at each level, which brands relate as brand/sub-brand, which relate as endorsed brand/endorsing brand and which remain independent of one another. It also addresses which brand's identity systems are dominant in different situations or contexts. And it addresses the type of names used at each level (coined, associative descriptive or generic descriptors). There are no absolute rules that apply in all situations, however here are some simple rules of thumb:

• The simpler the system the better
• Ideally, there are no more than two levels of hierarchy
• The system should be flexible enough to address all current and anticipated branding situations
• The dominant brand should be the one you most intend to build over time

• Sub-brands should be created sparingly, however they can be built to make the main or parent brand more relevant to new customer segments

• When an existing brand can be used, new brands should not be created
• Careful thought should be put into at what level taglines are used
• Many organizations have evolved to brand/sub-brand systems with some provision for flexibility and variation
• More and more organizations are trying to build and leverage their corporate, parent or organization brands as a way to save money when marketing products and services
• Only brands that (a) are highly differentiated, (b) will be maintained for at least several years and (c) will be supported by significant marketing resources over time should have coined names

I hope this helps. Good luck with your studies.

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