What Is Brand Architecture (and how can YOU Benefit from it)

If you’re new to the world of branding, the complex terminology might seem overwhelming at first. Sooner or later, you’ll meet the concept of “brand architecture”.

Here’s a guide that explains what brand architecture is, how you can use it and gives a few examples of successful brand architecture.

So what exactly is brand architecture?

Put shortly, it’s a strategy for creating a strong net of brands with clear visual language and coordinated design throughout your product lines.

Companies that combine multiple brands use brand architecture to structure the way their master- and sub-brands differentiate from each other while having also some common design elements. This helps to build structure between products, services, and components that make up your company’s portfolio of offerings.

To help you understand the concept of brand architecture more closely let’s have a look at three types of brand architecture:

Monolithic brands – also called umbrella brand or family brand, this type uses the same brand across all the company’s products. They’re recognized by consumers as a single brand, and might have similarly named sub-products. For example, Heinz has a whole line of different products that are all branded as Heinz.

Endorsed brand – A single company who owns many different sub-brands connected by a name or icon. Sub-brands inherit values and good will from the parent company. Take Virgin and their many sub-brands that work across a array of sectors for example.

Free-Standing or house of brands – in the case of this type of sub-brands, the product is presented to the world and consumers as a completely independent brand. For example, Procter & Gamble’s Tide, Bounty, and Gilette. When branding individual product brands, the master companies are given little prominence.

Here are some questions that brand architecture helps to answer:

1. What is your overall branding approach? Do you have a master brand, sub-brands, endorsed brands, stand-alone brands, or another type of brands?
2. On which level of the structure each brand stands?
3. How is each level of your brand architecture affected by others?
4. How do your branding levels relate to each other?
5. Which master brands sets the rules of creating sub-brands?
6. Which brands identities are dominant and which ones recessive?
7. What types of brand names your organization uses – coined, associative, descriptive or generic?
8. How do you feature each brand in different mediums? (business cards, stationery, catalogues, website, signage, etc.)

As you can see, brand architecture helps to manage the way your company’s different products and services – brands – relate to each other. It can also help to maximize the shareholder value and is used when evaluating brand valuation model techniques.

The biggest benefits of having an organized brand architecture:

  • You have complete control over your brand image across the entire company.
    Your customers can relate your products to your brand, creating a strong brand image.
  • You have clear guidelines of how to design your products and scale in the future.
  • Your brand and sub-brands have a long-established logo and visual language that creates trust and recognition.

Developing a clear brand architecture is essential, especially when your company’s handling multiple sub-brands. A successful brand architecture helps customers to recognize the brand by its logo, visual language, and design. All of it leads to higher brand recognition and a long-term establishment of a celebrated brand.

Do you need a brand architecture?

If you’re unsure whether you need to work on establishing a brand architecture, here are the three most common signs that you do:

1. You’re planning to extend your product line, leading to creating possible sub-brands
2. You’re already launching a new brand that’s not as widely known at the moment, but might grow in the future
3. You’d like to bring more structure to your branding, and differentiate your sub-brands while keeping some mutual design elements.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Graphic Evidence and we’ll help you develop a strong brand architecture and position your company for future success.

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