Brand Architecture

A clear brand architecture strategy provides a simpler framework for marketers, a clearer story for sales teams, and greater relevance for customers. We call this brand coherence.

Organizations with more than one product, service or brand need to ensure clarity of brand roles, differences, and relationships. We help companies determine how many brands they need in their brand portfolios, what the roles of each of those brands should be, and how those brands should relate to each other.

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Brand Architecture Definition

We define Brand Architecture as the degree of relationship between your organizational brand and your various product and service brands. This strategy may be expressed in a variety of ways, yet it should always connect meaningfully to the company’s identity. The main questions become: What promise is this offering delivering?” and then “How does this offering deliver our promise?”

By resolving these and other questions, we turn brand architecture strategy from a purely conceptual exercise into a real, meaningful set of organizing principles and clear decisions. The resulting strategic brand architectures work not only in the present, but they help organizations maintain brand coherence n their portfolios as they grow and prosper.

Types and Models

Most companies think about brand architecture in terms of two models: “branded house” and “house of brands.” Each of these come from a more traditional way of looking at brand relationships as static and regimented.  Either the corporate brand dominates, or the product brands dominate. More modern approaches to brand architecture are more organic and show that there’s plenty of middle ground between these two models. Many leading brands today include a mix of “branded house” and “house of brands” approaches,  each designed to grow their diverse customers, employees and investors into a strong community with an even stronger affinity for their corporate and product brands. No brand architecture model is necessarily better than another–the right architecture depends on your trajectory and goals. What is most important is to clearly understand and articulate those goals, so you can then design your brand architecture to best meet them.

Read more about brand architecture models

Benefits

There are many benefits to a thoughtful, strategic brand architecture.  First, it helps build awareness and appeal at the right levels within an organization and maximizes the value of each brand. Second, it focuses efforts and resources in the right places, so you realize positive impact from all the time, energy and money you spend on the brand. Finally, it creates a clear framework for future decisions.  No successful organization is going to always have the exact same number of products, services, and divisions. It will grow, shrink, sell off or acquire businesses. A clear brand architecture strategy will help you adapt to each change, grow strategically, and build brand value. When your employees, customers, and investors all understand what promises you are making, and how you are delivering on those promises, they come to you with the right expectations, and your relationship with them grows.

Read more about brand architecture examples from top brands

Case Studies

We’ve resolved brand architecture challenges for clients of all kinds, including multinational diversified corporations, technology startups, research universities, and non-profits. In most cases, our challenge is to resolve complexity that has set in over time.  Sometimes we are asked to evaluate the implications of a new acquisition or business strategy on existing brand architecture. In others, we develop a brand new strategic framework where none previously existed. In all cases, our approach to brand architecture assignments is straightforward and rigorous.

  • We work with our clients to understand their business and goals, and to hear them express the brand architecture challenges they face.
  • We inventory all existing brands and brand expressions to understand the challenges and identify opportunities for creating coherence.
  • We present alternative strategies for solving the brand architecture challenge, supporting each strategy with rationale and schematic diagrams.
  • We develop guidelines for governing the chosen strategy, complete with decision tools for retaining coherence as the organization grows and evolves.

Discover Marshall Strategy brand architecture case studies

View Our Brand Architecture Work

abilitylab-case-study

AbilityLab

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Identity and Brand Strategy / Messaging Strategy / Names and Naming Systems
Boeing

Boeing

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Messaging Strategy / Positioning Strategy

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Messaging Strategy / Names and Naming Systems / Positioning Strategy

Centro

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Messaging Strategy / Positioning Strategy

Highmark/Allegheny Health Network

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Brand Research / Identity and Brand Strategy / Names and Naming Systems / Positioning Strategy

Hilton Grand Vacations

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Messaging Strategy / Positioning Strategy
LinkedIn

LinkedIn

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Names and Naming Systems
Ripple

Ripple

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Messaging Strategy / Positioning Strategy
Salesforce_brand

Salesforce

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Identity and Brand Strategy / Names and Naming Systems

Santa Lucia Preserve

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Identity and Brand Strategy / Messaging Strategy / Names and Naming Systems / Positioning Strategy

Steelcase’s Coalesse

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Messaging Strategy / Names and Naming Systems / Positioning Strategy

The Getty

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Messaging Strategy / Names and Naming Systems / Positioning Strategy

ViaSat’s Exede

In All Case Studies / Brand Architecture / Names and Naming Systems

Find out how we can help your organization.