What Brand Architecture Best Suits Your Company?

B2B Brand Architectures

Are your brands out of whack?  That is, do they have clear interrelationships?  Or do you intend for them to have  no interrelationships at all?  Is there an overall brand strategy that dictates which approach you are taking?  And, if there are interrelationships, are the brands properly positioned and leveraged to maximize their overall value and brand equity?

Companies of all sizes (not just the Fortune 1000) can have multiple brands, and regardless of size, we often identify mismanagement of those brands.  Perhaps there is a basic misunderstanding by the financial managers or the engineering/manufacturing leaders in the company. Or, more likely, the strategic options and choices simply have not been made clear to them.  For example, an executive leader may not realize that his company can become a brand farm – developing and “flipping” brands to maximize their value, cashing out, and repeating the process by buying weaker brands that they can then regenerate and grow for harvesting.

Examining alternative brand strategies is a worthwhile exercise for an executive leadership group.  Since brand equity represents a large portion of the non-tangible asset value on the company’s books, it behooves the company to determine its options with its brands to maximize value.

One way to begin looking at a company’s brand strategy options is to review the various brand models that exist.  There are essentially a handful of core brand models that are used by companies to structure their brand strategies and marketing plans:

  1. Monolithic – a single name is used across all products and services (i.e., the Virgin Group)
  2. Endorsed – sub-brands are linked to a parent or corporate brand for endorsement (i.e., 3M, Textron)
  3. Product – each product or service is individually branded, and the parent brand gets little or no     prominence (i.e., Proctor & Gamble)
  4. Umbrella – brand name spans across a range of sub-brands (i.e., Nivea)

In reality, however, there are few brand structures that represent any of these models singularly.  What most often exists is a hybrid of these.  Therefore, a company can be creative about designing an architecture for its brand(s) that accomplishes its specific objectives or strategies.  

So while you can look at brand models to help define your architecture, use these first to explore your brand strategy options.  Write the strategy, then go back to the models to determine the best architecture needed to support it.  Or revise any brand architecture you’ve already created to reflect the new strategy.

  • What is your end game?  
  • Will brands be farmed and flipped?
  • Will multiple brands be developed for continued growth of their individual equity?
  • Will multiple brands be leveraged to create higher value for an umbrella brand?
  • Or will brands be bled as cash cows to fund other endeavors?

These are the types of questions that a leadership team needs to address to create a clear strategy at the top to direct the management of its brands.  Only then can the appropriate brand architecture be constructed to support the strategy.  Once that is accomplished, it will be important to visually map the brand architecture to help communicate to employees and the market the independence and interdependence that is intended among a company’s brands and sub-brands.

And, don’t forget to quantify your brand equity – one of a company’s greatest assets.  You’ll want to use this a to monitor and benchmark the results from the renewed management of your brand(s).  You watch your retirement fund, don’t you?

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