November 10, 2021

August 6, 2020

Brand Architecture and Why it Matters

Strategy
Popular

November 10, 2021

Brand Architecture and Why it Matters

Strategy
Popular
If you are starting a new business or your existing business is growing, it may be time to think about brand architecture.

Establishing a brand’s architecture is especially helpful when there are multiple sub-brands associated with a larger brand. Brand architecture is like roadmap to communicate internally and externally how those brands work together and/or stand alone.

The benefit of establishing this structure is that it gives your company, its employees and its customers a clear picture of how to understand your brands. It eliminates chaos, internally and externally. Also, it provides guidance about how to cross promote products and it helps to steer the conversation about the business and its offerings.

When we start working with clients, this is one of the conversations we have early on. Examining your overall business goals can help you decide which type of brand architecture model is right for your business. Using the decision tree (pictured below), we walk clients through an exercise that will help determine which type of model is right for them. In this post, we will look at the different types of branch architecture models to help you get started making decisions about your business.

Download the Brand Architecture Decision Tree

November 10, 2021

Brand Architecture and Why it Matters

Strategy
Popular
If you are starting a new business or your existing business is growing, it may be time to think about brand architecture.

Establishing a brand’s architecture is especially helpful when there are multiple sub-brands associated with a larger brand. Brand architecture is like roadmap to communicate internally and externally how those brands work together and/or stand alone.

The benefit of establishing this structure is that it gives your company, its employees and its customers a clear picture of how to understand your brands. It eliminates chaos, internally and externally. Also, it provides guidance about how to cross promote products and it helps to steer the conversation about the business and its offerings.

When we start working with clients, this is one of the conversations we have early on. Examining your overall business goals can help you decide which type of brand architecture model is right for your business. Using the decision tree (pictured below), we walk clients through an exercise that will help determine which type of model is right for them. In this post, we will look at the different types of branch architecture models to help you get started making decisions about your business.

Branded House

Branded House

A branded house is a type of brand architecture model with one master brand which all businesses, products and services offered by the company fall under.

The main brand in a branded house is supported and strengthened by all of the smaller sub-brands. Each sub-brand should be easily identifiable as part of the main brand.

The danger in this type of brand architecture is that if one sub-brand flops or falters, it can affect the other sub-brands and main brand.

FedEx is a branded house. Its sub-brands are hyper-connected. The offerings are similar and their identities mirror their offerings in similarity. These sub-brand identities only differ in color and descriptive tag. If you were to see one of these sub-brands standing alone, even if you weren’t familiar with it, you would know that it is part of the larger FedEx company.

Locally, we worked with Gastro Gnome, a gourmet backpacking food company, that has a product line with several types of meals. These meals all have their own identities but their packaging all clearly communicate that they belong in the same family.

Gastro Gnome Packable Meals- Branded House
House of Brands- Mars Example

House of Brands

A house of brands is the opposite of a branded house. In this type of brand architecture, there is a master brand that is often less well-known than its individual sub-brands. This keeps the sub-brands siloed off from one another, allowing each to have a more defined identity of its own. It also allows for a master brand to have competing brands.

You are likely familiar with Skittles and M&Ms. Mars is the larger brand that owns those sub-brands as well as Snickers, Milky Way, Extra gum, Twix and other types of candy.

While a house of brands gives an identity to its individual brands, by siloing off individual brands it also does not let the sub-brands benefit from having a relationship with one another. If you were a fan of Snickers but didn’t know that Milky Way was also a Mars candy bar, you might view it as a competitor that you would not try.

Locally, Blue Collar Restaurant Group is currently in transition, moving from a house of brands to an endorsed brand architecture. BCRG owns a number of restaurants in Jackson, Wyoming and Bozeman, Montana. Because all of the restaurants share the same values and BCRG’s “Service First” approach, they clearly are part of the same family. But they also have their own very distinct identities. Therefore, it makes sense to have association with the BCRG parent brand but also have their own ownable identities.

Blue Collar Restaurant Group- House of Brands Example
Endorsed Brand- Intuit example

Endorsed Brand

An endorsed brand falls in the middle of the previous two. In this type of brand architecture, the sub-brands are given separate identities and are more or less associated with the master brand. This allows a brand to determine based on each sub-brand how much they are associated with the master brand.

Intuit is an endorsed brand. It is clear that Intuit is the parent company but each of the three sub-brands (Mint, Quickbooks and TurboTax) have their own identities and offerings.

Currently, we are working with Bridger Brewing. As they begin canning their beers, we knew it would be beneficial to consider how those individual products would live as sub-brands. Originally, Bridger Brewing existed as a branded house. But in the brewery industry, several breweries have beers that successfully stand out as their own sub-brands. We saw great potential in this for Bridger Brewing as well. This model will allow them to have stand-out beers that are recognizable on their own and others that are more closely associated with the parent brand.

Bridger Brewing Endorsed Brand
Marriot Bonvoy Hybrid Brand

Hybrid Model

In the hybrid brand architecture, some sub-brands have more of a connection and obvious relation to the parent brand than others. Not all sub-brands share the same level of association with the parent brand.

Marriott is a type of hybrid brand. Some of the Marriott sub-brands have “Marriott” in the name, like Residence Inn Marriott and Courtyard Marriott. Some do not, like Westin Hotels & Resorts, which is also a sub-brand of Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites.

Choosing your model

When you are deciding which model is right for your company, there are some things to consider.

  • Build your core brand first. Your main brand is the one you plan to build over time. Make it your main priority.
  • Don’t create a new brand if an existing brand can be used. Spreading yourself too thin by creating too many brands can dilute, confuse and create a house of weak brands.
  • All of your sub-brands should share similar goals and values. This will help to keep your master brand on track and headed in a clear direction towards the goals you’ve identified for your company.
  • Remember that brand architecture is externally facing, so ask yourself what makes the most sense through the lens of customer experience.

At Hardy, we use a branding process that helps define the company’s values, goals, “why” and more. This helps steer brands to make decisions. If you want to learn more about determining which model of brand architecture your company should use, we want to talk to you.

Download the decision tree to define your model.

want to chat? give shane a ring

We’re always eager to talk branding with interested business owners.

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About Us

Like our work, the Hardy Brands branding & design agency team is an embodiment of the perfect balance of strategy and creative. We’ve cultivated a team of certified brand specialists and strategists, designers, copywriters and marketing professionals who are ferocious about helping you succeed. We’re a Montana marketing agency that will constantly strive to improve your business.

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As a branding, marketing and design agency, we partner with all types of businesses, from restaurants and breweries to building and real estate professionals, nonprofits to accountants and many others. Get a better idea of who we are and what we do by visiting our Work page.

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