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Brand Architecture and Business Clarity

If you have several brands under your belt, franchising, or offering several services/products, you may be wondering if there is any way to consolidate them all? Building a solid brand architecture is the way to do this.

What is brand architecture? It's a way of clarifying your brand message between all of your subsidiary brands. By assigning a brand role to each of your subsidiaries, you can relate them back to their parent brand to create synergy between them. This means that your brands will all be related in the public eye, and your options to cross-sell between them will increase.

Why is brand architecture important?

Cross-selling is the number one benefit of a consistent brand strategy. Having a well thought out brand architecture allows you to upsell and refer to all of your services under one umbrella. This will also increase brand awareness among your customer base.

How is the brand architecture built? To build a consistent brand for business growth, we can distinguish between four general strategies:

• A branded house relates all subsidiary brands to their parent strongly.

• A house of brands loosely relates all subsidiary brands while allowing the parent brand to take a back seat.

• Endorsed branding combines the options above, branding each subsidiary individually while relating it back to the parent brand.

• Hybrid branding combines all of the above methods as needed.

Sometimes hybrid b. and endorsed b. are both used to refer to what I've termed endorsed b. This is just semantics, and it is not really important when building your brand. What matters is to understand how your brands can be organized and consolidated. To do that, we will examine each of these strategies individually.

Branded House

A branded house is an all-or-nothing approach to relating your subsidiaries. With this strategy, all of your brands are clearly marked as offshoots of a parent brand, with most of its assets being inherited across the board. General Electric is a perfect example of this strategy, with its many subsidiaries sharing the General Electric logo. FedEx is also a great example of this strategy.

The benefit of a branded house is its outstanding consistency. It elevates brand equity, and brings regularity to your customers' expectations of your products and services.

House of Brands

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the house of brands. This kind of strategy brings similar elements to all of your subsidiary brands, but allows them their own brand identity while the parent brand takes a back seat. P&G and Kellog's are prime examples of this strategy.

A house of brands approach is a good strategy for companies that have many subsidiaries, or that expect to acquire them over time. Remember that while subsidiaries maintain individual brand identities this way, it is still a good idea to implement common elements between them.

Endorsed B.

With an endorsed strategy, all brands are clearly associated with their parent brand, but they are marked as subsidiaries to their parent in an unobtrusive way. Consider how Sheraton is "endorsed" by Mariott in its logo, for example.

This is a very straightforward way to unify your message across all of your subsidiaries. However, one study by Harvard has found that this strategy won't segment its customer base efficiently, so customers are less likely to explore sister brands.

Hybrid B.

With a hybrid strategy, you can combine any of the above strategies in whatever way they suit your business best. Remember that you are trying to build a brand architecture, however—that is to say, you must still lay a solid foundation for your idea to work.

Usually, hybrid strategies are employed when a parent brand would like to promote one subsidiary high and above others. For example, Microsoft has a number of subsidiaries that use the Windows logo, but its X-Box and other gaming services are presented somewhat separately.

Be careful of sacrificing brand equity this way, however. Remember that cross-selling and up-selling are your two main priorities here. Brands ought to refer to one another whenever they can.

What Are Some Important Things to Remember When Developing a Brand Strategy?

Your brand architecture can be structured in any way that you like, but consistency across your brands is key. Many of the usual principles of brand strategy apply:

• Imagine the features and benefits of your brand that you would like to highlight.

• Find an organized way of presenting these features in visual language.

Having done this, you only need to ensure that the structure you've created is applied consistently across all of your brands. As long as it works for your business growth, there is no wrong way to go about it.


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