Optimal brand architecture ensures that brands are consistently adding value to justify the costs required to sustain them. For instance, choosing to focus all your efforts on building brand awareness and equity with a series of unprofitable small-scale sub-brands could be less effective to reach your business goals, whilst increasing the risk of brand overlaps and inefficiencies.
The purpose of brand architecture is to clarify decisions concerning your products, services, customer experiences and marketing efforts that span across your entire brand system. When appropriately structured, there is a greater likelihood of organisational and operational efficiencies.
Aside from the business efficiencies of optimal brand architecture, more importantly, is the outward-facing story you are telling your customers. When it comes to brand architecture, it is less about the internal understanding and more about whether your customers understand and can differentiate between your brands.
It is important to ensure each and every brand within your portfolio has a purpose and performs a specific role that is immediately evident to the end consumer.
So, where do you start in ensuring your brand architecture makes sense – both from an internal business perspective and from an external customer-facing perspective?
1. Gain a better understanding of brand architecture.
To ensure you select the right brand architecture model, it is important to gain a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of each model.
To gain a better understanding of brand architecture, a good first step would be to download our e-book – An Introductory Guide to Brand Architecture. This guide will help business leaders understand the different models of brand architecture, the benefits of each and what to consider when instigating an architecture review.
The complexity level of your brand architecture will depend on your current business model and the number of brands housed within your organisation. A brand architecture review can help you confidently organise, manage and go to market with your brands.
2. Conduct an audit – understand where you stand and what you have.
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, new brands are introduced following the release of a new product offering, or there’s a shift in the market resulting in a realignment of brands.
An audit of 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.
3. Ask some questions – the important role of brand research.
Brand research is an essential step in the brand architecture review process. Not only will it help in understanding the market perception of your current situation, but it will also answer questions about your future state in evaluating the impact of potential architecture alternatives. The research will provide insights and answers to questions you may have only been able to hypothesise. Research can uncover the differentiating factors that will influence your decisions and ensure that your future position resonates well with your current and future clients.
Brand research can be conducted on one or more brands within your portfolio; it can help ensure each of the brands have a role to play in the overall brand architecture. Testing the entire model with market research can also be beneficial. The objective of this is to confirm the model is clear to consumers, ensure the interrelationships between each brand is evident, that there is an opportunity to share some of the brand equity within the model, or whether each brand is strong enough to stand alone without any endorsement from the parent brand.
It is important too that your brand architecture is built with flexibility in mind. An architecture framework that has been designed for today without adequate thought given to future considerations such as mergers, acquisitions, brand collaborations or market shifts, can risk future growth potential, therefore built-in flexibility must be established in your brand architecture model.
4. Develop, execute and communicate your strategy
Once you have established your brand architecture strategy, it is time to move forward with planning and executing the strategy. It is important to communicate internally and ensure all of the key stakeholders are clear on the rationale behind the changes. In the case of adopting a master brand architecture strategy, the benefits are clear and simple. A unified single brand under which all products and services exist, creates a greater overall market impact, share and revenue. Examples of this architecture model include Deloitte, KPMG and Perpetual. At the other end of the scale, the house of brands architecture model – the clear separation of all products and services from each other and from the umbrella/parent brand – helps create sharp differentiation for individual brands to target specific markets and market segments. Examples of this model include Unilever, P&G and Alphabet.
Changes to brand architecture can affect the overall organisational culture. By aligning your brand values you can deliver a positive reaction internally to the changes. Depending on the model, you will need to decide which brand takes the lead, and then align your employee values with the lead brand’s values. In most cases, this would be the umbrella brand, but it may not necessarily be the strongest brand in the portfolio.
Without clearly defining the roles and relationships of your brands, employees are more likely to interpret them as they see fit. This can lead to internal competition and conflicting views that can be improved or prevented by a clear brand structure. The key purpose of brand architecture is to facilitate both the customer and employees’ understanding of a company’s range of offerings and simplify the buyer’s decision-making process to minimise audience confusion.
Your brand architecture is always most efficient when it is aligned and reflects your business strategy with consideration given to the relevance of your brands to meet your objectives.
BrandMatters prides itself on unravelling complexity to increase efficiency. We have in-house brand research expertise coupled with an experienced brand strategy team who thrive on solving complex brand challenges.
Call us to discuss your unique situation.