Displaying items by tag: Brand architecture

Friday, 13 April 2018 17:28

The importance of branding for B2B businesses

In the past, branding was considered extremely important for B2C businesses, but largely irrelevant for B2B businesses. The majority of views were that:
• price is the only thing that mattered in B2B
• B2B buyers are rational decision makers unmoved by emotional factors, including brands
• B2B purchases centre around the relationship between sales reps and buyers and that the sales reps “were” the brand
• B2B products are too complex to be reduced to a tagline

Thursday, 08 March 2018 15:01


Product brands used to be the focus of attention for multi-brand companies, but the role of the corporate brand has become more and more important over the years, as CEOs and boards have realised the enormous value a strong corporate brand can deliver.

What is corporate branding?

Corporate branding is the practice of promoting the brand name of a corporate entity, as opposed to specific products or services. The corporate brand is the “umbrella” brand that sits over all a company’s product and service brands. The scope of a corporate brand is therefore much broader than a product brand.

The way a company’s corporate brand and its product/service brands sit and interact in relation to each other is known as the brand architecture.

Why is corporate branding so important?

People now really care about the corporation behind the product. They no longer separate their opinions about a company from their opinions of its products or services. This is largely due to the digital revolution and social media, which has created incredible corporate transparency. Like never before, customers, communities, government, suppliers, partners, investors and employees have a clear view into corporations’ actual behaviour and performance. They can freely share in their knowledge of, experiences with, and opinions of, organisations.

While this transparency and scrutiny can be problematic for some organisations, it can offer an enormous opportunity to savvy organisations. Those that grab this opportunity with both hands, and leverage social media and other digital platforms, can grow their profile, amplify their organisational purpose, shape their reputation, generate positive sentiment, and ultimately, increase the value of the company.

Creating a powerful corporate brand

The creation of a powerful corporate brand stems from a clear strategic vision and compelling organisational purpose, combined with employees who understand, believe and behave in a way that supports the vision and purpose in every way, every day. The corporate brand is also built and strengthened over time through visible, consistent actions and communications to the market.

The benefits of a successful corporate brand

Let’s have a look at the benefits that a strong corporate brand offers the different areas and stakeholders of a business.

For human resources / organisational development

  • Employee behaviours are aligned to business goals – a clear understanding of who the business is and what it stands for ensures staff act in a way that aligns to the strategic needs of the business.
  • Increased staff retention – clarity around what it means to be part of the organisation increases staff satisfaction.
  • Ability to attract the best – consistent word of mouth and a clear proposition to the talent market ensures the company will stand out from the myriad of competitors.
  • Reduced recruitment costs – as the best talent seeks the business out.
  • Increased productivity – as a result of increased satisfaction and understanding of the organisation’s purpose.

For the corporate and business functions

  • Deep alignment, cohesion, understanding and focus across the entire organisation, of who the business is, how it is different and how that difference turns up as a benefit for stakeholders on a daily basis.
  • Overall higher levels of innovation through working more constructively and collaboratively.
  • Increased trust with key stakeholders - customers, employees, shareholders, distributors, partners, intermediaries etc.
  • Improved and aligned customer experience, as employees communicate and deliver against the company’s overarching intent with clarity, conviction and confidence.
  • Reduced confusion and ambiguity when important decisions need to be made.
  • Improved returns on company programs and initiatives through increased company presence, understanding and leverage.

For marketing

  • Economies of scale – one advertising or promotional campaign can serve multiple brands, as they all sit underneath the corporate brand umbrella.
  • Stronger brand equity for product brands, as the positive corporate brand equity “rubs off” on the product brands.
  • Increased acceptance of new products launched by the company, as potential buyers are already familiar with the corporate brand and its reputation.

For sales

  • A stronger negotiating position – a stronger brand brings a stronger negotiating position and more favourable terms.
  • Increased customer resonance – customers have a clear understanding of the value of the business, creating more sustainable relationships with existing customers, and providing new customers with a clear reason to choose the business.

For the value of the portfolio

  • Increased value of the company’s product and service brands – as the equity in the corporate brand builds over time, there is the opportunity to transfer the benefit that it brings to the company’s portfolio of brands.
  • Increased opportunities for expansion – by establishing the reputation and value of the business, we open up opportunities to move into additional markets.

For relationships with Government and media

  • Supports Government stakeholders – smooths the way for Government to support our concerns, views and opinions.
  • Increased positive sentiment and commentary in the media, ensuring the company’s brands receive the “benefit of the doubt” in times of crisis.
  • Protection from possible industrial activity – through positive, accurate understanding of the company and its overall contribution.

For the community

  • Increased awareness of the benefits the organisation offers the wider community – by establishing and communicating what the organisation believes in and the role it plays in the community.

Given all these benefits, building a strong corporate brand is a worthwhile investment for any business. At BrandMatters, working with corporate brands is our daily fare. If you’d like to learn more about how we’ve brought concepts like those described above to life for our clients, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ve performed this sort of work for clients including Perpetual, Suncorp, Downer, Wesfarmers and Sage amongst many others.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017 13:23

All industries overflow with jargon. The legal industry. Professional services. Construction. Government. Science and research. Jargon provides a useful and accurate shortcut to communicate concepts or processes with specific meanings.

The marketing and brand worlds are no different. Yet in the absence of the need for specificity or accuracy (such as legal or scientific definitions), the use of marketing and brand jargon can become problematic for many clients. Brand ecosystem. Omnichannel marketing. Social media influencers. Brand architecture. What do any of these mean?

For a raft of clients and industry sectors, marketing and brand speak is considered at best a necessary evil and at worst, puffery. In an environment where avenues through which to engage audiences are forever multiplying– jargon also multiplies and compounds. New terminology is coined by compounding existing terminology, such as clickjacking or slacktivism1, and enters the marketing and brand vernacular. The adoption is swift: even buzzwords from 24 months ago such as digital disruption are now everyday vernacular in business.

All organisations engage in brand and marketing . Yet its vernacular to describe brand and marketing activity may be perceived as self-manufactured and devoid of concrete meaning. Often brand, marketing and associated vernaculars are either not understood or derided by those not in marketing roles. “Never mention the word brand” is an sometimes heard phrase for branding consultants when engaging brand resistant organisations.

So how can this vernacular be decoded in order to have substantial meaning? For those who are resistant, how can it be made real? As in all cases where confusion may cloud clarity, it’s best to go back to basics.

Here are some of the more common “brand” terms:

Brand – Brand is who your organisation is, what it stands for, and why a customer or client would select it over the brand and offer of a competitor. Seen from a different angle, brand is the disincentive for a customer or client to choose any other alternative.

Brand is more than an organisation’s logo. Many components cumulatively feed into creating a brand: the crafted customer/client experience of a product/service mix, the customer/client perception of that experience, the tangible and intangible assets required to create that experience and the positioning of the organisation in relation to a sector or competitive environment to create differentiation and advantage.

Brand architecture – The structure of an organisation’s brands and/or products/services to achieve maximum market impact, and, minimum cannibalisation where an organisation may own brands competing in the same market. Stated simply, brand architecture is the way you frame and go to market with your brands. It’s the way your brands are connected or kept separate in the consumer’s mind. Multiple brand architecture models can be applied and organisations need to carefully select an approach that will assist in maximising revenue and sustainability.

Branding – The active process by which organisations create and communicate their overall value and positioning via the development and protection (trademarking) of tangible brand assets (eg logo, tagline) and intangible brand assets (eg characteristics, attributes and behaviours) to achieve a specific position in a market.

Brand equity – The resultant comparative value, influence and impact of a brand in relation to its competitive set, and as evidenced by the loyalty and advocacy of its customer/client base and market share. Unto itself, a strong brand equity can be used as a brand tool to strategically further pricing strategies, positioning and competitive advantage within markets.

Brand experience – Arguably for many organisations, this is the brand. The positive and fulfilling direct interaction between customer/client and the organisation, and ongoing affirmation of that experience will define the brand. This creates loyalist behaviour; it creates advocacy.

Brand loyalty / brand advocacy – The ideal for any brand: the creation of long-term loyal clients disincentivised to pursue other brand options given their ongoing and vocal advocacy of a brand’s value.

1 Oxford English Dictionary http://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/september-2016-update/new-words-list-september-2016/

Thursday, 03 September 2015 12:47

Alphabet has taken over Google - but does this new structure mean people will stop 'googling' and start 'alphabetting?' Paul Nelson argues on Mumbrella that this change is more than skin deep. Read the full article on Mumbrella here.

Despite the omnipresence of the Google brand we argue the recent logo change is at best peripheral compared to the changes made at a brand architecture level.

The revised organisation of its brands and its creation of Alphabet means Google escapes the constant market and investor scrutiny and is freed up to focus on what it does best.

This is the main game – the logo change is really summed up improving scalability and readability on digital devices – and after 16 years it was due for a refresh.

Over the past few weeks, there has been considerable commentary in the press about the change of structure at Google, and its adoption of Alphabet as a name for the new parent.

The transition within Google – Alphabet – culminated in Tuesday night’s launch of the new Google logo. Prior to the logo launch, much of the commentary had surrounded the choice of the name ‘Alphabet’, and the fact that the name was not universally well-received and not available as a clear URL. Again, this is peripheral in our view.

What some of the commentators were overlooking is that this shift to Alphabet is about something far more significant than simply choosing a new name that either is either popular or not.

The move to Alphabet signals a fundamental shift in the way Google – or rather, Alphabet – has chosen to structure its organisation and its brand architecture, in order to prepare for future acquisitions and expansion into new markets.

Alphabet Google org structure
Yesterday, with the launch of the new Google logo, people were back to talking about Google. Do we like the San Serif font? Do we dislike the San Serif font? Have they moved far enough? Have they moved too far?

But in a sense this is not that material, any more than it matters that the Alphabet URL isn’t clear and available. What matters is that under the new Alphabet brand architecture, Google now has ‘permission’ to change its logo, to change its corporate identity and to highlight its focus on sourcing and sorting information, without impacting the broader scope of Alphabet’s interests.

The creation of Alphabet has enabled Google to operate in the sphere which it knows best – to be single-minded – without limiting the broader business’ growth trajectory.

Under this new architecture, Google will retain search, YouTube and most of the biggest divisions while smaller operations such as Nest home appliances, life sciences, drone deliveries and venture capital investments will operate as individual companies.

Alphabet is essentially a corporate holding company and never consumer facing – consumers won’t start ‘Alphabetting’ any time soon.
Google’s co-founder Larry Page has long been keen to explore new areas for growth and less interested in creating incremental improvements to Gmail. He’s made no secret of wanting to explore transportation, connectivity and life itself.

Over the years many business analysts have enquired as to the relevance of these new acquisitions and how they align to Google’s mission, now Page can honestly and confidently answer, ‘they don’t’.

Thursday, 14 October 2010 18:07

Where does your business sit on the continuum? Are you utilising an Inside Out or an Outside In strategy?

Outside In

The Outside In strategy takes customer value as its starting and end point. Companies using this approach are focused on creating and nurturing their customers by providing high calibre customer value. They put themselves in the position of their customers, and view themselves from their perspective. It's also about having a firm vision that drives you forward; there's no room here for looking behind your shoulder.

Inside Out

In contrast, the Inside Out perspective begins with a focus on the company's own capabilities and strengths. With this approach a business will take account of its resources and look at providing them more efficiently.

The problem with the latter approach is that by nature it's limiting and demonstrates slowness in adopting changes in the market place.

Shareholder or Customer Value?

Comparing these two approaches suggest a conflict between two fundamental stakeholders businesses need to deliver to: customers and shareholders.

If incorporated appropriately, pleasing and keeping customers will increase profits, which will feed shareholder returns. However it does suggest a shift in emphasis away from directly trying to deliver to shareholders. Having a chief focus on shareholder value can lead to short-term thinking, and an Inside Out approach to business.

The key is understanding that the customer is the source of value, and the market will reward a better value proposition. This is a realignment of values that places shareholder value as an outcome of customer value: customer value should be the primary focus.

Outside In Case Study: Amazon

Amazon has set a new standard for Outside In strategising. They began as an online bookshop, and built an incredibly strong brand around that. But they put themselves in their customer's shoes and asked what else their customer base wanted. This allowed them to expand into the Kindle, and then into cloud computing, web services for their channel partners, and massive online retailing of a range of products outside their initial offering. Rather than dwelling on what they were good at (selling books), they asked 'Who are our customers and what do they need?' By shifting their focus, they were able to leverage their brand to seize opportunities in other areas.

Barriers to This Approach

Executives and CEOS face a number of challenges that keep them focussed on an Inside Out focus. Focussing on annual budgets, outsourcing, day-to-day management etc. are the typical concerns that continue to lose focus from a bigger perspective. Without effective and visionary leadership, it can be hard to rise above these matters. Without an emphasis on innovation, experimenting, and taking a step outside the corporate framework and into the minds and hearts of customers, a business will not be ready for that moment when markets open and their opportunity to outperform competition and increasing market share and brand loyalty arrives.

Outside In Strategy

There are three ways to ascertain whether your business is oriented more towards an Inside Out or Outside In approach. The first place to look is your competition and channels. If you're continually surprised by new competitors, your own poor results, or the appearance of new product categories from out of nowhere, this is probably a strong indication you're reactively focussed, rather than setting the pace in the market.

The second question concerns your customers: do you know who they are and what kind of value you're delivering them?

The third matter to examine is whether your brand stands up. Are you viewed as credible? Do your customers understand you? Are insights from the market and foresight driving the organisation? Are your marketing efforts aligning with your core values and strengths?

How Can Brands Reach Out?

Customers buy the expectation of benefits they will receive from forming a relationship with a brand. Buying from and interacting with a business is guided by a businesses brand. An Outside In strategy means a change of focus and entering into a collaborative relationship with the customer.


Wednesday, 04 August 2010 19:47

The Australian Securities Exchange Ltd (ASX) has reconfigured the brand architecture between its holding company and subsidiaries.

On Monday the ASX announced that the ASX Group will be its new overarching brand, with ASX, ASX Clearing Corporation Ltd, ASX Settlement Corporation Ltd, ASX Compliance Pty Ltd and other subsidiaries sitting underneath.

The ASX logo will feature the words ASX Group.

Continuing from our examination of brand architecture earlier this week, this is a good example of a Branded House where all products support the same message with the same core brand values against the similar buying group.

This type of branding structure is used to:

  • Reflects broad strength
  • Present a single focused offer
  • Clarifies layering
  • Act as a clear reference point
  • Establishes a point of trust and assurance

It requires:

  • A clearly articulated vision and values set applicable across the business
  • Unilateral support
  • Strong brand management

Examples above and beyond the ASX include Virgin Group, General Electric, BMW and American Express



Brand architecture is the way we organise, manage and go to market with brands. Think of it as the external face of our business strategy. To work effectively, the architecture must be well defined, reflect a clear understanding of the market and the brand strategies of our competitors, and align and support our business goals and objectives. While there are many different models of designing brand architecture, this article will look at two approaches: House of Brands, and Branded House.

Many companies maintain a portfolio of brands, with sub-brand sitting underneath or alongside a parent brand. Consider:

  • Apple and iPad, iPod, iTunes
  • Channel Nine and Nine News, Wide World of Sports, A Current Affair
  • Tooheys and Tooheys New, Tooheys Old, Tooheys New White Stag

Each of these brands are connected strongly to the mother brand, whilst retaining a strong individual identity and market capture.

Let's dive into this scenario, looking at how you create separation but connectedness across a branded portfolio.

Diet Coke and Coke Zero

We'll start by taking a look at one of the world's greatest brands: Coca Cola. Within the Coca Cola portfolio sit Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero, amongst others. Functionally they all do the same thing - quench thirst and satisfy taste buds.

Let's take a closer look at two of those brands - Diet Coke and Coke Zero. What really is the difference between these products? It's been argued that that Diet Coke has no calories, while Coke Zero has zero calories. Hmmm. Here's the actual difference: Coca-Cola Zero is sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium (ace-k). The only chemical difference between Coca-Cola Zero and Diet Coke is that Coca-Cola Zero has about half the aspartame, but more ace-k. Not surprisingly, none of this is part of Coke's marketing collateral, and probably amounts to almost nothing in terms of tangible or discernible differences...

The drinks are essentially the same, but the one named Zero is marketed towards men, who are more aligned to associations of "zero" than "diet"; whilst Diet Coke has traditionally been geared to women who feel more reassured drinking a "diet" product. So, adding the Zero brand allows Coke to expand its market beyond making Diet Coke appealing to both genders.

So what is important is not so much the actual difference, but rather how your target audience perceives the difference.

So how do you have a separation, yet connectedness across each of the brands in your architecture or portfolio? Well, it's all about having a clearly defined:

  • Brand Role and Positioning
  • Target Audience
  • Visual Identity identified (eg Coke Zero has a prominent use of black teamed with traditional Coke red)
  • Messaging and tone of voice ... which then reflects all of the above.

Johnnie Walker

Let's look at another well-known beverage brand. Johnnie Walker has a number of brands within its portfolio - Black Label, Red Label, Blue Label etc. Every type of Johnnie Walker scotch has a different colour. The purpose of that is to denote the different type of Scotch and to position them differently. For example, Johnnie Walker Blue Label reflects exclusivity through device (eg serial numbering), placement, rarity and cost. These give the portfolio a clear sense of separation, whilst allowing them the necessary level of connection via;

  • Clear brand positioning
  • Target audience and occasion
  • Visual Identity systems


Developing additional brand personalities requires a classic process of brand positioning to achieve the requisite balance between separation and connectedness. The aim here is to find the distinctive position a brand adopts in its competitive environment and to reflect it accordingly - internally so it's recognised within its portfolio and externally, within its competitive context. Good positioning ensures the target audience can tell the brand apart from others, as it specifies and express the brand's point of difference. You do this by defining the brand's benefits to the customer and then identifying differentiating brand attributes.


Friday, 18 December 2009 01:23

As part of an effort to create distinct brand identities between its sugar/ renewable energy and building operations, CSR's sugar and renewable energy business will be rebranded as Sucrogen.

Sucrogen will replace the CSR Sugar brand and will be a new corporate entity holding the business' raw and refined sugar operations in Australia and New Zealand, as well as its ethanol and electricity cogeneration business. Sucrogen will keep the CSR brand for food and beverage products.

CSR sugar division chief executive Ian Glasson said that the new name was a fusion between sucrose and generation.


Friday, 14 August 2009 23:28

Telstra eBusiness Services is the insurance industry's leading provider of integrated e-business solutions. Their e-business products provide a vertical platform of innovative, powerful and award winning solutions to our insurer, intermediary and broking system partners.


Telstra eBusiness had grown through a process of mergers and acquisitions that had resulted in confusion internally about how to position, organise and "go to market" with its company's brands, products and services. This had also led to confusion externally to the extent that one product name appeared to have more recognition and equity than the actual business name. There was also a requirement for a series of new product brands to be created to reflect a series of exciting new product entries and to reflect these as part of an entirely revised brand architecture.


Desk research was conducted to ascertain the current position and a research brief scoped to determine current knowledge gaps and to assist in confirming the current position. Depth interviews were then conducted internally to gather information and engage the internal stakeholders who had been through a number of prior ownership changes. Qualitative research was then conducted with the insurance industry and quantitative research conducted with the insurance and broker distribution channels. Subsequent findings and presentations made recommendations on brand architecture, positioning and product naming. Logo and a visual identity system was then created aligned to the Telstra (parent) brand, yet still presenting a unique but connected relationship within the Telstra eBusiness product portfolio.


A deep assessment of the environment delivered an informed understanding of the market, competitors and current perceptions of the Telstra eBusiness product portfolio. This understanding informed strategic development of both the existing and proposed portfolio. A revised brand architecture and strategy for managing corporate and product brands was also provided, which allowed for and reflected future business expansion and product development. The entire portfolio was then managed, launched and implemented via a concise identity system, with accompanying brand guidelines.