Brand architecture is hugely important and can bring numerous competitive benefits for all types of B2B organisations. Brand architecture is an excellent way to strategise and organise your products and/or services.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what brand architecture is, why it’s important, and examine some key considerations for creating strong brand architecture that consider both the here and now and the future. Read on to find out more…

What is brand architecture?

Brand architecture is the way a company structures its brand portfolio, including its master brand, sub-brands and product brands. You can imagine it as a family tree, where the master brand is the parent, sub-brands are the children, and product brands are the grandchildren.

A company can utilise its brand architecture to organise its brands, products and services to increase their impact on customers. Large multinational companies frequently use it as an efficient way of defining the relationships between their master brand, sub-brands and product brands, ensuring they come together to form a coherent brand portfolio.

However, brand architecture can be useful for companies of all sizes. The more that all sizes and types of B2B organisations can start embracing brand architecture the better! After all, why not consider how you can gain competitive advantage through this effective technique?!

Types of brand architecture

There are three main types: monolithic, endorsed and freestanding.

Monolithic brand architecture describes a master brand which is the only brand visible to customers, with everything the company produces being marketed under this. Although simplistic, this approach can be hugely successful – Apple is an example of a wildly successful company that uses monolithic brand architecture. If you haven’t considered your brand architecture before, then this is likely how your company is approaching brand architecture.

Endorsed brand architecture refers to a company’s use of a master brand to endorse its sub-brands, making the customer aware of the connection. Take Virgin for example – they’ve rolled out countless successful sub-brands including airlines, mobile companies, broadband providers, gyms and many more – yet all carry the overarching Virgin brand.

Freestanding brand architecture describes when each brand in a company’s portfolio is marketed independently, so many customers may not be aware of the connection between the master brand and its sub-brands. Nestlé is a huge company with countless sub-brands – you will have likely bought many of their products without even realising!

Key considerations for brand architecture

So, how can you ensure that your brand architecture strategy and plan is successful? There are a few key considerations to take on board.

First, it’s important to define the role of the master brand. Would it work best as the parent brand that represents everything the company does, or would your businesses benefit from more focused sub-brands that represents specific business divisions or key products and/or services?

Next, it’s important to consider the relationship between the master brand and sub-brands. Should the sub-brands be extensions of the master brand, like Virgin’s approach, or should they be distinct brands in their own right, like Nestlé’s?

Finally, it’s important to consider the relationship between different brand levels e.g. master brand, the sub-brands (which could be business divisions) and the product/service brands within each sub-brand.

Don’t make a quick decision about your approach. It’s always best to explore in depth the pros and cons of different approaches to meet your overall business and growth plans now and in the future. Once you’ve invested your efforts and money into brand architecture, ideally you don’t want to revisit it in years to come as your portfolio expands – you want to get it right first time.

Using brand architecture to your advantage

Brand architecture can be a great way of defining the relationship between your brands and how you want the customer to interact with them, as well as keeping your brands organised internally.

And remember, brand architecture isn’t only for large international corporations! Making sure your brands are paired correctly with their target audiences can be massively beneficial for businesses of all sizes when it comes to putting out the right brand messaging and ultimately driving growth.

This latest thinking article was written by:

Jack Lenton
Senior Content Executive