We regularly answer questions from marketers here on Branding Strategy Insider. Today we hear from Tammy, a Vice President of Marketing in Knoxville, Tennessee who has this brand architecture issue…
“Background: We went through an extensive corporate branding initiative around 2006-2007. A corporate brand strategy was developed but they did not dive into product brands it was more of a corporate branding strategy at a high level. A monolithic approach was recommended and many new products do follow this trend. However, no migration strategy was put in place to move endorsed brands under our corporate brand name. We have also had numerous acquisitions over past few years in support of our corporate growth strategy that do not fall within the original strategy. We have moved into the B2C space with more of a shadow-endorsed product. We have recently made our largest acquisition to date. Their portfolio of products have high market share, strong brand awareness and complement our portfolio. This acquisition also supports our move as a company to be a more specialized company.
However, their brand strategy is completely different from our brand strategy. They have made many acquisitions over the years and because their brand wasn’t strong they led with a product brand strategy many of which have little to no connection to the parent brand. Many of their brands have changed hands multiple times over the years, the one constant has been the brand names. Many of their brands are more B2C while most of the brands in our heritage portfolio are B2B.
Challenges: We are now faced with a significant challenge to integrate these brands into our brand portfolio and develop a brand portfolio strategy that supports our business strategy of growth through both acquisitions as well as organically, and supports and helps us achieve the vision to become a more specialized company. In the process we will also be reviewing our heritage brands to decide where they fit, what roles they play, and how to clarify and simplify our brand portfolio. We are looking to clean up the heritage brands, integrate the acquired brands, and provide clarity and synergy across our brand portfolio. What approach do you recommend?”
Thanks for your question Tammy. Given the complexity of your current brand architecture, the first thing you will want to do is audit the brands, sub-brands, endorsed brands, product names and other named products and services you have today. This will help you understand the scope of the project and the nature of the issues. Next, you will want to measure awareness and associations for all of your (at least major) brands against their target markets. This will inform your brand portfolio and brand migration strategy. Next, you will need to decide what brand strategy and architecture you intend to pursue. Finally, you will need to decide which brands will go away, which will remain endorsed brands and which will become sub-brands.
Recently, we have seen an increasing number of organizations moving toward a single (master) brand strategy to increase brand recognition and reduce marketing costs. Some endorsed brands or sub-brands may remain depending on their awareness levels, positive associations and differentiation within their product/service categories.
You should devise branding decision rules for all future acquired brands and internally developed products and services. This will ensure a consistent treatment well into the future without having to engage brand consultants for each new situation. The most important consideration is to create a brand architecture that is as simple and cost-effective as possible but that maximizes your target customers’ comprehension of your product/service offering and their intent to purchase your brand or brands rather than competitive brands.
Some brand consultants specialize in this area and can help you understand how all of this works together, making sure the recommended brand architecture works in all media, communication vehicles and situations. The Blake Project’s brand architecture workshop has a robust brand education component to ensure decision makers fully understand the implications of every decision.
Tammy, you can find more on how we think about brand architecture here.
Do you have a question related to branding? Just Ask The Blake Project
Leave Your Comfort Zone: The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
Featuring John Sculley October 17-18, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 50 participants
As in Your marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn
Sponsored By: The Brand Architecture Workshop
FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers