Brand architecture

Thursday, 14 October 2010 18:07

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


Thursday, 30 September 2010 20:37

The State of Queensland has rebranded itself as part of a major global push for tourism. The State now has a new 'Q' logo, and are using the tagline 'Queensland, Where Australia Shines'.' It's part of an international social media campaign, an updated website and advertising in major international markets.

New online media avenues have made it easier, according to the State Tourism Minister, to position the state differently for both Australian and international audiences.

It's been twelve years since the state's previous brand campaign, with the "╦ťWhere else but Queensland" tagline, and has been guided by the tourism body responsible for the uber successful Best Job In The World campaign.

Full article here:


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 brand 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.


Page 2 of 2