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people standing in front of "BRAND" to signify brand architecture models

Brand Architecture Models: Modern and Traditional

At Marshall, we define Brand Architecture as the degree of relationship that should exist between brands within a company’s portfolio. A brand is typically thought of as a promise to a customer – therefore many brands mean many promises. It’s important that those promises align, otherwise they could create confusion. In more complex brand portfolios, defining the relationships of product or service brands to the company brand, and to each other can help create brand coherence. While there are many different approaches, brand architecture can be thought of as having two general models: segmentation and community.

Segmentation Model

The traditional approach to brand architecture is what we call ‘segmentation”:  Find a market segment, create a product or service that meets its needs, and create a brand that appeals to the segment.  If you have multiple segments, you have multiple brands, none of which relates to the others. This creates complexity and can result in high marketing costs, because the more brands you have, the more brands you have to pay to support. Proctor and Gamble and GM are historic examples of this segmentation approach.

Community Model

At Marshall Strategy, we increasingly support the “community” brand architecture model.  This model assumes that when you have a brand that appeals to one audience, you may have other brands that also might appeal to that audience.  Similarly,  you may be able to attract multiple audiences to one or more related brand promises. The clearer the relationships between those brands are, the more likely you are to build a community of customers who value your brands. Think of how Google, Apple, and Facebook have built thriving communities around their related, complementary brands.

Key Brand Architecture Questions

How well do existing brands support our strategic positioning, name and identity?

What conflicts exist between our offering brands and our strategic position, and how can those conflicts be addressed?

How do we efficiently manage the different offerings within our portfolio or ecosystem?

How should we manage individual offerings to maximize our brand coherence?

A graphic showing both brand architecture models, conventional (segmentation) and new (community).

See how we solved a brand architecture challenge and created brand coherence for a global hospitality provider: Hilton Grand Vacations Case Study

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Brand Matters – The Power of Strategic Identity

The following content was presented at the AIRI 2017 Annual Meeting. Click here Marshall_AIRI_Presentation-2 to download a PDF of the slide presentation itself.

Brand has many definitions, and most of them line up within marketing and advertising.  In this presentation, I hope to shed some light on the power of strategic identity – being true and clear about who you are as an organization and why you matter. This should have influence over all an institute says and does, from who it hires, to how it fulfills its mission, and of course, how it engages, and inspires support from, its critical audiences.

Here’s one important reason brand matters to research institutes: The top ten federally funded institutes depend upon government funding for 71% of their budget on average. But our government appears to value research less and less.  In fact, according to AAAS, “The FY 2018 funding cycle has been rather mixed for Science and Technology on the whole, with many more agencies looking at reductions than increases.”

What this means is, a good portion of an institute’s budget is necessarily going to need to be replaced by other sources of funding.  Where is that going to come from?  Who is going to understand and value these institutes enough to participate in their future?  Why should they?

The challenge is even bigger than funding.  It is about awareness, relevance, and perceived value to multiple audiences, including new research talent, partners and collaborators, and the public who this research is intended to benefit. While in the past, your accomplishments may have spoken for themselves, now you’ve got to ensure that you are understood, appreciated and supported – in an environment that is more competitive than ever. You need to become a “preferred” place to invest in, to work for, and to rely upon for new knowledge.READ MORE

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DACA is an Identity Issue.

DACA is as much an identity issue as it is an immigration one. The effects of decisions today may affect many people’s sense of who they are for much longer than its political news cycle.

We are faced with some 800,000 people who identify themselves as Americans – and why shouldn’t they?

  • Their parents are in America.
  • They grew up in America.
  • They were educated in America.
  • They work in America.
  • They pay taxes in America.
  • They serve in America’s armed forces.

America is the only home they have ever known. If they are returned to an unfamiliar country, they might not even speak the language.   

  • Will their identity no longer be American?
  • What will this do to America’s identity?
  • What will this do to America’s brand promise?

Britain recently went through an identity crisis with Brexit. The British brand cut off the European part of its identity. And the consequences for many Europeans and Brits alike has been a sense of broken promises. The DACA identity issue raises important questions about America’s identity and its own “brand” promise.

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Creating Meaningful Messages

Meaningful Messages are Memorable Messages

We’re big fans of “Marketplace” on NPR. One reason we like the show so much is because its host, Kai Ryssdal, is an incredibly natural and entertaining communicator. In the middle of each program, Kai takes a moment to quickly rattle off a bunch of numbers about what’s been happening in the stock market. He provides these numbers with cute analogies, but without much commentary. We wonder how many of his listeners understand the meaning of these numbers, or care about them.READ MORE

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