If you go to a store and ask for soap, you are either looking for a specific brand or not. It doesn’t matter what your soap brand is. Basically, soap is soap. But there are some people, like me, who use a specific brand of soap. Because in their opinion, soap is definitely different from soap. After all, some brands are of higher quality and more famous.
It is interesting that for some buyers it is also important to buy, for example, all health products from one brand or company. There are various reasons for this behavior in buyers. Some companies and brands are so old and big and famous that people get used to them and also trust them. That’s why they go to the products of the same company or brand first of all.
Again, it is interesting that big and well-known companies usually do not own a single brand and offer different brands to the market. In fact, this is part of the policies to make businesses bigger and more profitable. For example, consider Unilever. You may have heard that Dove, Lux and Persil products are among the brands of this company. But I’m sure you haven’t heard that Unilever actually owns 400 brands (in different areas and not just health products)!
When a business has several brands and different services and products, how should it manage and adjust these brands together? Actually, how should the communication of these brands be adjusted with each other? Businesses (such as Unilever) must architect their brands.
What is brand architecture? What is the importance for businesses and what types? In the continuation of this article, which is part of the series of brand management training articles, we will discuss the answers to these two questions.
Table of Contents
The short version is that a brand’s architecture is a way of organizing the different subsections of a larger brand. Brand architecture shows us how the sub-brands of a larger whole are organized, and how they all relate to each other.
How to manage 400 brands? How should the marketing and digital marketing activities of this number be organized? It may not be very important for you and me, the consumer, how many brands Unilever has and how these brands are related to each other, but believe me, for management activities, designing digital marketing strategy and even designing brand logos and choosing names, colors, symbols, advertising campaigns and … is very, very important.
Therefore, brand architecture is something that large businesses that offer multiple products and services with different main and sub-brands should do. It is with brand architecture that it is clear what similarities and differences these brands have. It is also the brand architecture that determines the role of each of these brands in shaping the image of the main brand (company) and its goals and missions in the mind of the audience.
The importance of brand architecture for businesses and their digital marketing
To a great extent, the importance and benefits of brand architecture are clear from its definition. But let’s talk more about its importance, especially the impact it has on the digital marketing activities of businesses. Pay attention that brands are part of the identity of businesses. Also, big businesses may sometimes buy other companies or brands or even want to do co-branding.
Imagine that a brand that has been in people’s lives for decades and people have memories with it and has found a special meaning for them, is sold to another company. What should the buyer company do? Should he keep that brand with the same shape or add something of his own to it so that people finally understand who this brand belongs to?
Brand architecture causes:
- Coordination and communication between brands (Brand Consistency) and as a result between those brands, as a collection, and the business (company) should be formed in the audience’s mind.
- To create harmony and transparency in the market and the mind of the audience and all advertisements and campaigns and marketing and digital marketing activities. Because everyone knows that those brands tell the story of a specific company that represents specific values and goals.
- The product design team, design and graphic artists, digital marketing and all teams also know exactly and clearly what direction they should take. This increases productivity and makes more targeted decisions, and as a result, the business has saved its costs.
It can help a marketer see how to keep parts of a brand separate when needed, and also how to allow them to work together to boost each other in the marketplace.
Strategy and components of brand architecture
From everything that has been said so far, it is clear how vital Brand Management is for businesses. Brand architecture is also one of the works that is included in the subcategory of brand management. There is definitely not one type of brand architecture for all businesses and different products and services. Based on various factors, businesses can choose one of a variety of brand architecture models, which are fully explained in the next section.
But which model (type) is suitable for your business and your customers? Each business must determine this by itself. That is, the brand architecture strategy is decided first, and then, based on that strategy, the brand architecture model is selected. What points should be considered for choosing a brand architecture model?
- Remember that brand architecture is not only for coordinating the company’s internal activities. Customers are the main audience of brand architecture. Every business, with the model it chooses, actually conveys a message to customers, shareholders and the market in accordance with its goals and policies.
- The first and most important step in designing a brand architecture strategy is research, complete and comprehensive internal (macro business strategies) and external (customers) quantitative and qualitative research. You should interview customers and see how they see your brands and company. In this neighborhood, the Brand Equity of each of the business brands should also be determined.
- Based on the research results, choose a model and test it. That is, run it experimentally and on a limited basis and collect and analyze internal and external online and offline feedback. More than one type of model may be experimentally implemented at this stage.
- Finally, the preparations for the implementation of the chosen model in the business era and the teams involved are provided according to the company’s human and financial resources, and the brand architecture is built.
Types of brand architecture and examples for each type
In this section, we explain the types of brand architecture by giving at least one example for each. It is necessary to point out a point. In most related content, 3 very common and important models for building brands are mentioned: Branded House, House of Brands, and Endorsed Brands. In the following, these three models and the sub-branch of the second type (Hybrid) are introduced.
The Branded House
The house of brands that is built using this model is for the main brand (company, mother brand) and is built around that name. All sub-brands and sub-categories have the main name and logo in them. It is important for me and you to have one of the Apple products, no matter which one and no matter the name. Being an Apple and that half-bitten apple is important.
The House of Brands (Individual Product Brand)
A company that wants its product brand to be known alone and independently uses this type of architecture. In fact, it does not matter to the company whether the customers know that the Dove brand is for Unilever or not. Dove has an independent identity among other brands of this company. Companies like Unilever or Nestle, which have many and varied products, build a house of their brands with this architecture. Here, for me and you, the customer, the product is important, not Unilever.
The Hybrid (hybrid architectural model)
One of the sub-brands of the main brand may become the main brand for sub-brands. Google is the best example built with this model. Many of us do not know that Google is a subsidiary brand of another company (Alphabet Inc.).
A hybrid model offers the flexibility of having multiple tiers of distinct hierarchies, including varying levels of market-facing brands and subservient sub-brands.
The Endorsed Brand
In this architecture, brands have an independent identity, but it is important for the mother (main) brand that everyone knows that these brands are a subset of the main brand and are related to the main brand. A company designs and builds its brands with this model, which is very reliable and wants to have the support umbrella of its name and reputation over all its sub-brands. An example of this architecture is the Marriott hotel complex.