Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Brand Architecture

Last time I presented a short definition, and some questions for consideration, regarding performing a Brand Audit.  Now, we're going to start to look at different aspects of a brand audit.  First, we're going to review Brand Architecture.

Brand Architecture defines how subordinate brands relate to the parent brand, and to one another.   Structures range on a scale from:
  1. House of Brands
  2. Endorsed Brands
  3. Umbrella Brands
  4. The Branded House
Let's look at each one in a bit more detail.

House of Brands
All brands within a House of Brands have no apparent obvious link to the parent brand.  An example of this would be the family of P & G products.  Tide, Crest, Cascade, and Bounty are all subordinate brands to P & G.  However, they are marketed on their own merits, with their own separate marketing budgets and campaigns.  A House of Brands approach is useful in situations where the parent company has no real brand equity on it's own merit, but it's products, such as Tide, do.

Endorsed Brand
In this setup, the parent brand endorses distinct, branded offerings in a variety of segments and/or categories.  A couple of examples would include Courtyard by Marriott, or Polo by Ralph Lauren.  The intention is to add credibility by leveraging the brand equity of the parent brand.

Umbrella Brand
An umbrella brand (also known as Family Branding) shares its identity with the parent brand.  Examples would be Sony Playstation, Buick LeSabre, and Gillette Sensor.  There can be economies of scope associated in this situation, because multiple products can be efficiently promoted within a single campaign. It also helps facilitate new product introductions by providing a name that is familiar with the target consumer.  However Umbrella Branding can create a greater burden on the parent brand to maintain consistent quality throughout all product lines. If there are quality issues with one product in the family, it can impact the reputation of the others.

Branded House
All product lines in a Branded House share the parent brand name, and as such, each product offering is identified in much more generic ways.  Examples of this are the Red Cross, GE Capital and GE Appliance.  All product lines are truly subservient to the parent brand, and rely solely on the parent brand's equity.

When evaluating your brand architecture, there are many things to consider.  Merriam Associates published a fairly comprehensive list in 2009 that covers this well:
  • Audience Diversity
  • Brand Elasticity
  • Product and/or Service Offerings
  • Competitive Context
  • Brand Equities
  • Geographic Needs
  • Organizational Structures
  • Ownership
  • Sources of Growth
  • Purchase Criteria
  • Brand Performance
  • Brand Role
  • Channels
  • Company Specific Issues
I will cover each of these items in more detail in the future.  However for the purpose of this post, keep in mind that you will need to take many of these items into account when deciding your ultimate brand architecture.

Strategic Consideration list credit: Merriam Associates


  1. Thank you for sharing your insights. It is very informative and helpful. I might use this as inspiration for my projects. Keep it up! I’m looking forward to your updates.

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