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Brad VanAuken Brand Architecture

Keys To Brand Architecture Strategy

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Brand Architecture Brand Strategy P&G

Brand architecture issues almost always arise in the midst of our brand consulting assignments. Following are the most frequent problems we encounter with our clients:

  • There are too many overlapping brands due to growth through mergers and acquisitions
  • The brand architecture mirrors the internal organization structure, which is at best immaterial to the end consumer and at worst completely confusing to the end consumer
  • Business unit managers are allowed to create new brands and new product names as they deem necessary without regard to an overall brand architecture
  • There are no naming conventions within the organization
  • The organization has not thought through its product or service offerings from a consumer perspective; therefore, the brand structure is neither simple nor clarifying for the consumer
  • The organization has far more brands than it can support financially
  • The brand architecture is not formalized for the organization so the brand treatment is completely inconsistent and confusing across lines of business, product categories and brand identity applications
  • People are using parts of the parent brand name in other names without forethought or consistency

So, what is brand architecture? It is the logical, strategic and relational structure for your brands or put another way, it is the entity’s “family tree” of brands, sub-brands and named products. Brand architecture addresses each of the following:

  • What the overarching branding approach is – master brand, brand/sub-brand, endorsed brand, stand alone brands or some combination of these
  • How many levels of branding should exist
  • What types of brands exist at each level
  • How brands at different levels relate to each other, if at all
  • Decision rules for creating new brands
  • Which brands’ identities are dominant and which ones are recessive
  • What types of names the organization uses – coined, associative descriptive or generic descriptors – and in which circumstances (usually controlled by decision rules)
  • Which brands are features in each and every media, vehicle, situation and circumstance (e.g. business cards, stationery, product catalogs, website, shipping boxes, vehicle signage, employee uniforms, building signage, etc.)

The Blake Project approach is to conduct a half-day to full-day workshop designed to address all brand architecture issues including those mentioned above. We bring a recommendation into the workshop but then proceed to work through every possible brand architecture scenario with our clients to make sure the system is robust and able to address every current and future situation. For example, this week a national brand that is moving through a busy period of mergers and acquisitions contacted us to lead their brand architecture strategy effort. Based on their needs, this is the output they can expect from our brand architecture workshop:

  • What the overall brand architecture should be
  • How to treat acquired brands
  • How to relate sub-brands to the parent brand
  • How aggressively to transition other brands to the parent brand identity
  • How to treat sub-brands when they are necessary
  • Appropriate naming conventions

Never underestimate the value of taking the time to think through your brand architecture strategy. Your brands' position in the mind may depend on it.

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