Brand architecture

Thursday, 26 May 2022 18:05

Clarifying and confirming the optimal brand architecture strategy for a leading automotive solutions provider.

Discussion between Mathew McAuley, Director of Business Strategy and Transformation at Cox Automotive Australia, and Paul Nelson, Managing Director of BrandMatters.

You can view the video interview on our YouTube channel here or scroll down to view it at the bottom of this article.

PN:
I just wonder whether you could start by just giving us a brief overview of your role and how you've come about to basically uncover the brand architecture conundrum that you discovered.

MM:
My current role is Director of Strategy and Business Transformation, but previously, I was also responsible as director of marketing and communication. So, I had a blend of a role, where I was responsible for marketing and communications and overall strategic direction. And in the case of branding architecture, is almost like a perfect match because we were looking at our business and the complexity, and really wanted to focus in on how we could make it simpler for customers. So having been with the organisation for some time, in Cox Automotive had added brands and added companies, as director of marketing, I was starting to get a sense of how we could actually approach our market centricity in a more simplified way.

PN:
Well, Cox Automotive is a complex organisation. 50,000 employees across the globe, 20 billion in revenue and more than 500 employees in Australia. Let's unpack, I guess, the architecture challenge in some ways. We know that brand architecture and the alignment of brand architecture is so critical to the customer experience, so let's unpack that for a moment, the challenge you actually found yourself in.

MM:
It goes back to 2016 when we first established Cox Automotive as a business entity in this market. We had one major brand at that time, but over the last five or six years, we'd started adding to the stable of brands we had in Australia and New Zealand. Now, nothing as complex as the United States, where our company is headquartered. They have over 30 brands in the market, and they have a real challenge in providing some simplicity. But having said that, in a smaller market, we had made it, in my opinion, difficult for customers to understand the value proposition of working with our individual brands and businesses.

MM:
We started to think about what role does Cox Automotive play in the wider automotive ecosystem, we understood that customers knew, maybe, about some of the products or services we had in different segments but had no idea that we could help them with other challenges in their business. So, from our approach, we were looking at, what are the brands we have operating? What markets are we segmenting? And how should we best organise ourselves in terms of a customer value proposition? We were looking at taking the brand sort of presence, not only from a business brand, Paul, but also we had gone down the path of almost giving some of our products brand identities of their own, which, in retrospect, when we acquire companies, you have to look at what they've done and make that work in a shorter-term play.

MM:
But longer term, when we step back from it and thought about how we could best approach, we knew we had a challenge. We knew that we had too many brands in market. We had products which are identifiable, separate brands as well. There wasn't really an understanding within the business about what is a brand, versus what is a product, and how do you create a product brand in a nice, sensible way. So quite a few challenges. And that's the customer facing proposition. We’d done some work internally to look at how we should structure our business to better serve our customers, but that was stage one. So, stage two was definitely, then, the branding architecture point of view.

PN:
I remember you saying, at the time, that even your own people were struggling sometimes to define, how do we organise and take our different products to market? And where's that brand hierarchy? And is that a product descriptor? Is it a business unit descriptor? Is it a product brand? Is it a product? What's its relationship with the corporate brand? All of those sorts of characteristics reveal themselves when you begin to have a look at your architecture, don't they?

MM:
Absolutely. When you bring different companies together who have shared customers, the way those brands were being surfaced were sort of in congress with maybe how we would think of it from a Cox Automotive point of view. We had a couple of challenges in that regard, and definitely, we compete in many different market segments. Cox Automotive looks after many different brands and businesses. When you think about the automotive ecosystem, from retailing vehicles to wholesaling vehicles, to providing vehicle services, to providing dealer software, all these sorts of things that we do across, in many cases, shared customers, but there wasn't any connection.

MM:
We weren't going out to customers and really making it simple for them to understand that we could do all these things, because they might have exposure to a brand here or a brand there, but they didn't really know. And that created some issues for our sales teams, as well, in terms of who's selling what, how does that work, at what level do they talk to a customer? We've got really small customers and we've got really big customers who are part of global companies, as well. So, for us, it was really important that we, not only through our branding architecture, but then all the work that flowed on from there, empowered our sales teams to really go out and tell the Cox Automotive story. And the branding architecture has certainly made that much simpler than what it was.

PN:
We find ourselves in this situation frequently with clients, where they either acquire or divest brands, they build loyalties, they build teams, they build structures, they build agendas. We're all human, and then unpacking that is frequently a bit of a challenge, as well. So, our process with Cox was that everyone was on board, workshop through the process, and look to define a solution.

MM:
Absolutely. I think if I talk about the role of strategy and where it overlapped with branding architecture, is that we knew that we really needed to succeed in the local market by empowering, what I would say, the collective power of our brands. We hadn't quite got there. We hadn't really worked out how to do that. The branding architecture gave us a roadmap, and the strategy of where to move forward and how to do that. It's also fair to say that there were lessons in our approach, and especially working with your team in that collaborative manner, that bringing all the stakeholders together, giving them a high level view of what we're doing and why we are doing it and the benefit that we could expect by doing this piece of work, certainly got everybody on board and behind the project.

PN:
Let's talk about some of the surprising results, the things that you thought worked well and key learnings that could be applied in similar projects.

MM:
I think it is important that you take your assumptions out of the process because when we started looking at how we would best present to customers, we were talking about retiring some brands. And in our marketing team, we approached it with caution, because, especially when you buy companies, and that could be smaller companies and the founders are still within the business, you always think they're going to be so attached to their brand. And we have to really tread carefully.

MM:
It is really important to paint a picture of where we want to get to and why we want to get there. Those leaders immediately saw the benefit of giving up their brand, giving up their product brands, giving up their company brand to become part of a Cox Automotive offering, because they understood that by doing that, they're actually going to empower their businesses to be more successful.

MM:
If you can create and embed that vision, and then show them how you're going to get there and why it's going to be better for them in the long run, then you'll go a long way to getting people to step back from being... not self-interested, but just having a limited perspective.

MM:
Show them what it's like today. Show them what it's going to be like tomorrow. If you are sitting there thinking about, okay, well, what does that mean for my BDMs, my customer service people? Good leaders want to know how it's going to impact their people. I think it was a valuable takeaway for me, that if you can show them what the business card looks like, if you can show them what email... if you can show them, pragmatically, how does all this high-level thinking actually translate into tangible benefits as early as you can, then I think you're doing the right thing.

MM:
I think another key learning is to be highly visual. And by that I mean, when you look at brand architecture and the theory and the reasoning and the logic, you take people through all that, and you can have workshops upon workshops. But when you get down to where we are going to go, all that aside, the first thing they want to say is, "What does it look like? What's my email signature look like? What's my business card look like?" And you think, you've done all this high-level theory and we're looking at value proposition and how we're going to go to market, and all this really great thinking and structure, and it's going to let us really be successful. But when it gets to the nitty gritty, and even CEOs and senior businesspeople will look at it and go, "Okay, but what's my business going to look like?"

PN:
Any final words or final advice? You've already provided a depth of it already, but do any others, considering a project like this, considering an architecture or portfolio challenge, that you might have?

MM:
I think my final words would be engaging early. We'd been on a bit of a journey in terms of acquiring businesses, and then COVID hit, so some things were put on hold. But my advice is to understand, if you've got a big challenge, if you've got a number of brands and you can see that it's going to take some time, I think the earlier you can engage with external experts the better. And that's not to put aside the internal thinking, because that needs to happen.

MM:
If you are embarking on a big piece of work or a small piece of work, depending on the size of your business, engage early. Just benefit from the expertise to structure your process and your approach to a piece of work like this would be beneficial.

PN:
Fantastic. Well, Mat, thank you, at every level. It's been a delight working with you, and thanks for your leadership and direction mentorship through the entire programme of work. And engaging all those stakeholders made our lives far easier as we worked through the process. So thank you, again. Really appreciate it.

MM:
It was a great project to work on. Thank you.

A clear-minded, structured but flexible brand architecture can offer significant value for B2B organisations. In contrast to B2C mass consumer market, B2B audiences are smaller and often segmented into micro-niche audiences which can be complex. Those offering a B2B product or service provision need to have an in-depth knowledge of the specific audience they are targeting – where expertise, reliability and consistency all play an important role in buying decisions.

For many B2B organisations, brand architecture will become the framework in which the brand strategy lives, and defines the hierarchy, relationship and investment for your company’s products and services. Without a framework in place to manage the product/service portfolio, the impacts on market share, reputation and revenue can be significant.

At some stage in the business journey, organisations that have evolved over time need to evaluate their brand strategy, identify adjustments that are required, and allocate time and resources to make any appropriate changes. The challenge of disrupting the status quo, the risk to revenue targets, the pain of change, and the fear of creating market confusion are all very real concerns when addressing brand architecture. However, in our experience, the challenge is outweighed by the benefits, over time.

At BrandMatters, we’ve worked with many B2B organisations post M&A activity who are faced with a complex portfolio of brands, which are potentially competing, sometimes cannibalising and often confusing to their customers and stakeholders.

The first step is to decide which brand architecture model will be most suitable to ensure the newly acquired brand/s fit within the portfolio. Conducting a brand architecture review is a logical approach to ensuring each brand has a purpose and performs a specific role that is immediately evident to the end client.

Choosing the most appropriate brand architecture model will depend on your existing brands and the strength and equity they hold. When adding brands to your portfolio, you may consider one of the following options:

1. Stretch your existing brand into new markets (master brand)

By deploying one consistently applied brand as the driving force behind the portfolio, the master brand strategy is ideal when a strong robust brand is the unifying factor of all the products and services offered by the organisation. This architecture approach is generally used when the brand can deliver the brand promise without confusion or dilution.

2. Share your existing brand equity across the new brands (branded house or endorsed brand)

Utilising your parent brand as the dominant identity for each product or service allows the new products or brands to borrow the brand equity and trust already established by your parent brand, whilst still offering differentiation within the portfolio.

3. Allow each brand to stand on their own with a specific positioning (house of brands)

In some cases, it is better to allow each brand to stand alone and do what it was created to do. If the brand is strong enough to stand out in the market and has enough equity to maintain its position in the market, then this would be a case for a house of brands. While this approach would involve a lot more investment in brand and marketing, it can have its benefits, especially if one part of the businesses is outperforming other sectors. It is also beneficial if the business is looking to divest or sell a specific part of the business.

Why getting your brand architecture right matters?

Optimising brand architecture ensures that all of your brands within your portfolio are consistently adding value and justifying the costs required to sustain them. It will also allow you to maximise your organisation’s use of time and resources towards those brands that are worthwhile investing in.

How many brands do you need?

A disorganised and inconsistent brand portfolio can evolve organically over time with little structure or discipline as to how brands are to be treated, presented or managed. This can lead to a multitude of inconsistent identities and possibly a lack of ‘daylight’ between brands.

The development of new brands for products, services or programs can become costly and make it difficult to grow a company’s profile and brand awareness due to lack of consistent branding and messaging.

How well do your brands fit together?

Understanding how all brands fit and work together enables companies to better target their key audiences as well as their internal stakeholders. It enables them to build brand awareness more effectively and avoid brand overlaps and the duplication of internal effort. Brand distinction, in terms of quality or features, is one way to ensure that customers aren’t interpreting your brands as too similar, whereby the price becomes the determining factor in decision-making. When customers experience difficulties understanding the full scope and relationships between brands, they are restricted from fully connecting with the brand and are more likely to make price-based purchasing decisions or search elsewhere.

How clear is your brand structure?

Without clearly defining the roles and relationships of your brands, employees are more likely to interpret them as they see fit, which can lead to internal competition and conflicting views. But this can be improved or prevented by a clear brand structure. The key purpose then of brand architecture is to facilitate customer and employee understanding of a company’s range of offerings and simplify the buyer’s decision-making process to minimise audience confusion.

Is it flexible enough to grow with?

A brand framework that has been designed for today without adequate thought given to future considerations – mergers, acquisitions, brand collaborations and product shifts, just to name a few – inhibits the growth of a company and isn’t responsive to industry trends or the ever-evolving landscape of the marketplace.

Brand architecture is a critical factor within the context of acquisitions, where companies intend to grow their scale, competencies and geographical presence. An inflexible brand structure, one which has failed to consider future business expansion and is too fixed to accommodate any kind of change, can hamper a company’s potential to grow strategically and maximise the value of its acquisitions.

Brand architecture is the framework of your business portfolio

Getting your brand architecture right will result in a clear path forward for decisions relating to your brand and business strategy. When executed effectively, brand architecture will help your customers and stakeholders better understand your business offering.

The benefits of investing in brand architecture can far outweigh the costs. Trying to manage a soup bowl of brands post M&A without a brand architecture framework or model will not only be inefficient but could potentially damage all the brands within your existing portfolio.

To learn more about brand architecture in the context of B2B brands, download our eBook here. If your organisation has recently undertaken a merger, acquisition or divestment, BrandMatters can help uncover the most efficient brand architecture framework that will ensure your business portfolio evolves with clarity and certainty.

Thursday, 27 January 2022 09:29

Australia’s largest not-for-profit organisations that empowers researchers to identify ways to treat, prevent and cure multiple sclerosis (MS).

Tuesday, 26 October 2021 15:24

Knosys creates software that empowers organisations, providing them with new ways to find, use and share information, which allows them to better deliver to their customers, employees and stakeholders.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020 16:54

 

Brand research is more vital than ever in this era of rapid change.

Now more than ever, organisations need to develop a new understanding of their customers, the market and competitive landscape in order to survive and thrive. 

Brand research is a powerful tool in uncovering the important consumer and market insights that will reshape your brand strategy and drive your business forward. 

This e-Book is designed to help you gain a better understanding of brand research as a vital first step in building a successful brand for the future.

The guide will:

  • Provide insight into the power of brand research in growing your brand.
  • Outline the research methods available and the benefits of each.
  • Help marketers understand the questions that can be answered using brand research.
  • Delve into the role of brand research in formulating a brand strategy.
  • Explain how brand research can be used to refine and organise your brand portfolio.
  • Articulate how insights gained from brand research can influence your brand strategy, design and execution.
  • Highlight case studies where brand research has transformed brands and helped them grow and thrive.

 

Brand architecture remains one of the most complex components of brand strategy.

Throughout traditional B2B business, organic additions to both the product and service portfolio can occur, and these additions can simultaneously (and unwittingly) strengthen and weaken an organisation’s alignment towards its key audiences. They can help customers and clients navigate the scope of a company’s offer, but also undermine their confidence and confuse them, meaning they often then seek out alternatives.

Brand Architecture is the way you organise, manage and present the portfolio of brands that sit within an organisation; much like a family tree. Sounds easy, yet this external summation and presentation of the organisations business strategy is frequently fraught and highly complex. This means it often becomes a challenging and sometimes daunting task for even senior marketers and those in the C suite. As organisations evolve and grow, there are often products and services that are built or acquired that can compete and cannibalise each other, just as there can be products and services that have very little alignment to the overall brand strategy.

As is often the case, specialist advice is required to cohesively, comprehensively, yet succinctly develop a sustainable brand architecture strategy. Especially considering the entire brand portfolio may require realignment, restructuring, reorganising or reinventing. Therefore, the process of developing a concise external-facing brand strategy and understandable navigation for your audiences is a key strategic task and not something that can be half done.

In such a complex and crucial task, without properly understanding the current composition of each brand within a portfolio, the level of risk is significantly heightened. So, what is the most effective tool that can mitigate this risk for B2B organisations?

Deploying well-defined brand research to uncover insights to optimise brand architecture strategy

Brand research is an effective and often underutilised asset that can significantly appease this risk. Powerful and well-articulated brand research will uncover and deliver insights that will help an organisation optimise their brand architecture portfolio.

When considering the most appropriate architecture of the brands, products and services in your organisation, there are several considerations that must be taken into account. These considerations are likely to be intrinsically linked to the brand strategy of your organisation and need to consider not just your current portfolio, but acquisitions or divestments you may make in the future.

By considering the wider brand implications through the brand architecture process, you will be able to build a robust and evidenced approach that has considered the pros and cons of each separate architecture option. These options are detailed below and more regarding these options can be found in our ebooks The Introductory Guide to Brand Research and The Guide to Brand Research for B2B organisations

How many brands are appropriate for your organisation and how strong are they?

What internally may be perceived as strong brands with clear differentiation from each other in the marketplace, may not be equally perceived by target audiences. Brand research is essential to understand the market perceptions and attitudes towards an organisation’s portfolio. Brand research will uncover the role and relevance of each brand within the portfolio from a customer or consumer perspective.

Avoiding market confusion, and blurred lines between each brand within the portfolio from a positioning and value perspective will help organisations avoid cannibalisation within an organisation’s own portfolio. Making a well-informed decision on the most appropriate brand architecture model is critical to successfully drive the business forward.

Types of brand architecture considerations answered through brand research

There are several considerations when determining the appropriate architecture for your organisation. Below are some of the typical questions a well-articulated brand architecture research program will address:

  • How are your brands currently being perceived in the market?
  • Is the market clear or confused by your organisation’s offer?
  • Where does brand equity reside, in the parent or at the product/service level?
  • Is there an opportunity for sunset or divestment of specific brands within the portfolio?
  • Are there any gaps in your portfolio that may satisfy the audience’s needs and wants?

More specifically, when considering longer-term strategic mergers and acquisitions to the product portfolio, brand research can help answer:

  • What is the long-term cost/benefit of the organisation’s current assets, including brand reputation and value?
  • What is the current position, strength and value of each brand in the newly formed organisation’s brand portfolio?
  • Considering what the newly formed organisation looks like, what is the new strategic direction? What are its long-term goals?
  • What are the customer expectations and how will the M&A impact the loyalty of existing customers?
  • How does/do the newly acquired brands fit within the existing architecture?

If your organisation requires answers to the questions such as the ones above, or if the conditions for a brand architecture review are relevant to your business, then that is a decisive indicator that it is time for your organisation to research your portfolio and rethink the brand architecture strategy of the business.

Please feel free to reach out to the Insights and Strategy team at BrandMatters if you have any other questions about brand research and brand portfolio strategy. We have a wealth of experience and case studies and can prescribe a bespoke approach that is suitable and aligned to your organisation’s unique situation.

One of the core purposes of a brand portfolio strategy is to help customers navigate the scope of a company’s offer in a way that best reflects the brand’s promise. Now, given the turbulence of markets, shifts in competitor service disciplines, your own tactical and strategic pivots, and the evolving sentiments of consumers post COVID-19, the importance of a strong and clearly defined brand architecture cannot be overstated. 

As we all emerge from the immediate and significant challenges of the pandemic and begin to settle into our new economic reality, it is increasingly clear that attention spans are shorter, discretionary budgets and spending diminished, and ultimately, brands are trying harder to secure their share of both market, mind and wallet.

In this state of flux, a brand architecture review can help an organisation streamline their brand portfolio so as to maximise return on investment and minimise confusion in the market.

There are a number of brand architecture models that may be appropriate for your unique organisational strategy. Considering the ever-changing environment we find ourselves in, which brand and product architecture strategy is the best fit for you?

BA blog 2 image insert

Our publication e-book – An Introduction to Brand Architecture outlines the core brand architecture structures that are available:

In this COVID-19 environment, if you are changing markets, channels or products your existing brand architecture is going to be implicated. There are certain questions we are being asked at BrandMatters in relation to this, notably, will your existing brands stretch to new markets, or could you serve the same or new markets with fewer brands? For businesses looking to pivot their core offer and brand away from displaced markets or towards more lucrative COVID markets, how do you inform such decisions? How do you mitigate risk and maximise the opportunity?

As marketers looking to find answers to these fundamental brand architecture conundrums, some of the most significant considerations you will need to assess when undergoing your brand architecture review include…

How many brands are appropriate for your organisation?

The more brands you have the more thinly spread your (dwindling) marketing budget will become. A good first step in a brand architecture review is to logically assess the number of brands you need verses how many you currently have, considering also the necessary market requirements and demand post-COVID. It’s essential your offer doesn’t appear to cannibalise itself. If your organisation has made acquisitions, mergers or diversified recently, asking whether there are there brands that are now competing due to overlaps in service offering or across similar channels is essential. It may also be the case that incremental additions over time have created complexity and confusion, which are likely to have been accentuated in the context of the pandemic.

Brand distinction, in terms of quality or features, is one way to ensure that customers aren’t interpreting your brands as too similar, whereby the price becomes the determining factor in decision-making. In my experience, when customers experience difficulties understanding the full scope and relationships between brands, they seem to be restricted from fully connecting with the brand and are also more likely to make price-based purchasing decisions or search elsewhere. In this turbulent and over-communicated context post-COVID, attention spans are undoubtedly lower, and your brand need to be aware of this when it comes to the organisation and presentation of your brand portfolio in the market.

Testing your proposed new brand architecture structure through brand research will help you ensure you succeed in implementing an optimal model. Without properly stress testing your new or revised go-to-market strategy, you risk investing heavily against an unproven brand architecture strategy that may not be custom fit or suited for growth post COVID-19.

Building in flexibility

A brand framework that has been designed for today’s crisis without adequate flexibility given to future challenges will inhibit growth and increase of market share. I have found this fundamental flexibility is not always considered in brand architecture strategies. So, building flexibility into a brand framework requires longer term strategic thinking, and an understanding that markets that previously existed to serve customers are now intrinsically altered from what they were before. 

Another useful way to demonstrate flexibility is to provide greater certainty around the levels of risk in the investment your organisation is making with any potential brand architecture. This is essential for the marketing function of any organisation to demonstrate flexibility to C-Suite executives, where your role in the overall position of your organisation can look to showcase higher-level strategic thinking that gratifies budget expenditure. 

Where to start the brand architecture journey

Before and throughout the pandemic, BrandMatters has been assisting organisations across multiple industries in re-evaluating their brand architecture to ensure they are match fit for the post-COVID context. 

We’re offering a comprehensive productised solution that enables organisations to map their suite of products and services, and inform decision making in the management of these portfolios, in a cost-effective, efficient and accountable way. 

If your organisation needs assistance in evaluation of your brand architecture, get in touch with the BrandMatters team here.

Optimal brand architecture ensures that the brands that exist in an organisation’s portfolio are consistently adding value to justify the costs required to sustain them. Given the changes thrust upon us by COVID-19, many organisations and marketers are struggling with the management of their go-to-market strategy and brand portfolio to best meet the evolving interests of their shifting audiences. 

Organisations need to ask themselves one critical question: Is our current brand architecture, the way in which our products and services go to market and the inter-relationship between them, still fit for purpose, or, does it also need to evolve.

Brand architecture is always most efficient when it is aligned to and reflects your business strategy, giving relevance to how your brands can meet your objectives. This is never truer than now as we move into the post-COVID world, where the needs of the market and targets segments are swiftly evolving. Or, in the words of Simon Sinek, “It doesn't matter how much we know. What matters is how clearly others can understand what we know.” 

Ultimately, an optimised brand architecture structure is the anchor by which all brand decisions can be made. But in a world in flux, where internal business perspectives and external customer perspectives have shifted, where is the best place to start this brand architecture process?

Understand your current portfolio structure

It’s essential as a starting point to map out your existing brand architecture as it currently stands. Our publication, An Introductory Guide to Brand Architecture can help you understand the various brand architecture models that organisations adopt. 

Taking stock of your current situation is an important early step in the brand architecture review process. Many organisations grow organically over time: brands are acquired, brands extensions introduced, innovation and NPD is a constant. 

Mapping your current brand portfolio will enable you to understand the interrelationships between each of your brands, establish whether any of your brands overlap or cannibalise each other, and determine the relevance of each of your brands within the marketplace.

Since the onset of the coronavirus, many organisations have shifted their processes and sought access to new markets. Some have acquired incremental additions that over time have created complexity and confusion, where certain brands may be competing due to overlaps in service or product offering. And in a period of declining marketing expenditure, there may be increasing duplication of effort across the business that is bringing unnecessary cost and inefficiencies. 

It is only by taking an inventory audit of the existing portfolio can these factors become apparent, which is why this is such an important step in the organisation of your brand architecture.

The critical role of brand research

Brand research is also an essential step in the brand architecture review process. It not only identifies current market perceptions of your brand, but it will also inform the perceived impact of potential architecture alternatives. Researching your market can uncover the differentiating factors that can influence future decision making and de-risk the evolution of your portfolio structure.

Given the turbulence of markets recently, your existing brand research is likely outdated and not representative of the state of play through which you are likely to base your tactical and strategic considerations on.

Even short term, cost effective brand research can help measure the immediate impacts of the apprehension in the market, which will provide insights and analytics to prompt more extensive brand research to help identify and then address your unique situation post-COVID. Just last month, BrandMatters completed a quantitative research dip of over 500 SMEs across Australia for Vero’s SME Insurance Index COVID-19 Pulse Check, providing insights that helped hundreds of brokers understand the changing nature of the current climate and the impact these pressures are having on their key clients.

Turning insights into an evolved architecture

The complexity level of your brand architecture will depend on your current business model, the number of brands housed within your organisation, and the capacity to pivot and flex as required. 

In an environment where the market is evolving by the fortnight, it is important too that your architecture is built with flexibility in mind. An architecture framework that has been designed for today should include the capacity to incorporate mergers, acquisitions, brand collaborations or extensions, pivots and new target markets. 

In this COVID-19 world, if you are changing markets, channels or products your existing brand architecture is going to be implicated. Asking whether your existing brands should stretch to new markets, or could you serve the same or new markets with less brands? For businesses looking to pivot their core offer and brand away from displaced markets or towards more lucrative COVID markets, how do you inform such decisions? How do you mitigate risk and maximise opportunity?

The question we’re being asked by clients is "If I move my brand into that more lucrative market, can I do it credibly, or am I hindering my own brand as it’s simply a bridge too far? 

Future proofing your brand architecture with an inherent flexibility is crucial. It is more than likely the short-term tactical decisions you have made during COVID-19 pandemic were made to stem declining sales, as opposed to strategically reposition your entire organisation. But all organisations face different pressures, the number of changes in go-to-market strategies and brand portfolio organisation reflect this.

Where to start the brand architecture journey

In response to these challenges, BrandMatters is assisting organisations across multiple industries in re-evaluating their brand architecture to ensure they are match fit for the post-COVID context. 

We’re offering a comprehensive productised solution that enables organisations to map their suite of products and services, and inform decision making in the management of these portfolios.

If your organisation needs assistance in evaluation of your brand architecture, get in touch with the BrandMatters team here.

During the last 6-8 weeks, we’ve had a number of clients and prospects seeking our assistance as they attempt to cope in these times of rapidly changing business conditions and associated uncertainty. We’ve had clients asking us to rapidly deploy right sized market research studies, assist them to pivot their brand into a different market adjacency with greater growth prospects, or to simply and rapidly activate a marketing and content plan as they seek to grow sales. We’ve also seen a significant increase in the number of downloads and requests from our e-books on our website too, which are available for free at any time here.

Given the success of the proposals we’ve created and the number of requests being received, we’ve decided to create a number of fixed price, productised solutions that address the challenges of brand right now:

1. Market research: In this post Covid world, research is critical for clients seeking to understand their market, what’s important to their customers and how they and their competitors are performing against these drivers. Asking simply, "How am I performing against what’s important to my clients?"

2. Brand Architecture: This market research often informs a key packaged solution in relation to brand architecture and brand stretch too. This relates to a business looking to pivot its business and brand towards a more lucrative Covid market. The question we’re being asked is "If I move my brand into that more lucrative market, can I do it credibly, or am I hindering my own brand as it’s simply a bridge too far?" Organisations need greater certainty around risk levels of brand stretch into new markets. "Can I take my existing brand in, or would I be better creating a sub brand or perhaps an endorsed brand?"

3. Brand Positioning: With architecture confirmed and resolved, clients are also seeking assistance on how to reposition or re-fresh their brand in this new market context as well. Asking "How can I be clear, unique, relevant and compelling?"

4. Marketing activation: This packaged solution is the most pragmatic for clients and prospects experiencing a downturn in sales demand. This marketing and activation plan is a succinct set of workshops to get their marketing activated and their content created, in an accountable way.

The benefits of each of these solutions are specifically geared to deliver answers quickly, pragmatically and cost effectively. They can be executed independently or in unison. Each of the productised solutions we are developing contain a clear, simple and accountable series of benefits and deliverables, within a defined fixed cost and time frame.

Stay tuned as we communicate further on these cost effective, yet flexibly tailored productised solutions. If you are looking to move more quickly, you can reach out to us directly here or contact Paul Nelson on either 02 99547900 or 0413 028766.

See also our blog on 6-point checklist for brands in managing a crisis

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