Brand Architecture Types & Examples

Brand architecture explained.
Brand Architecture

Brand architecture refers to the hierarchy of brands within a single company. It is important to bring consistency and visual/verbal order.

So that way your company can grow and market more effectively.

You might have a business name and you might have a portfolio of services, but you might actually name them too.

You might actually decide that it’s not just one company – you make many things.

How do you organize your offerings, divisions or products?

That science, that architecture scenarios – that’s what we called brand architecture.

To put it simply:

It is a system that organizes brands, products and services to help an audience access and relate to a brand.

It is the interrelationship of the parent company, subsidiary companies, products, and services.

It is important to bring consistency, visual and verbal order, or on the contrary – an intention to disparate elements to help a company grow and market more effectively.

Brand architecture types

We can distinguish three different ways to organize brands within a single (master) company:

  1. Monolithic
  2. Endorsed
  3. Pluralistic

Check this image that illustrates three different types:

Brand Architecture - types
Types of Brand Architecture

Truth is, there’s a lot of different ways to architect a brand and most large companies that sell products and services have a mixture of strategies.

Classically, however, brand architecture falls under one of three categories, so let’s discuss them consecutively:

Monolithic Brand Architecture

The first type – monolithic – is characterized by a strong, single master brand.

In this approach, customers make choices based on brand loyalty. Features and benefits matter less to the consumer than the brand promise and persona.

Brand extensions use the parent’s identity, and generic descriptors.

FedEx is an example of monolithic brand architecture.

The program, designed by Landor Associates, uses color to emphasize sub-brands.

Monolithic Brand Architecture
Monolithic Brand Architecture – Fedex

Endorsed Brand Architecture

The second type – endorsed – is characterized by marketing synergy between the product or division, and the parent.

The product or division has a clearly defined market presence, and benefits from the association, endorsement, and visibility of the parent.

Apple is an example of endorsed brand architecture.

The program doesn’t use color to separate sub-brands (like FedEx), but rather rely on the visibility of the parent brand (there’s only one logo designed)

Endorsed Brand Architecture
Endorsed Brand Architecture – Apple

Pluralistic Brand Architecture

The third type – pluralistic – is characterized by a series of well-known consumer brands.

The name of the parent may be either invisible or inconsequential to the consumer, and known only to the investment community.

Many parent companies develop a system for corporate endorsement that is tertiary.

Unilever is an example of pluralistic brand architecture.

The program doesn’t rely on master brand at all, but instead each sub-brand has it’s own image.

Pluralistic Brand Architecture
Pluralistic Brand Architecture – Unilever

These three types are the most common, and they each have different strengths and weaknesses.

How to decide which architecture type is for me?

Deciding the right structure for your brand takes an extensive amount of research, and an in-depth understanding of your position, offerings, strategy.

Who Needs Brand Architecture

The need for brand architecture is not limited to Fortune 100 companies or for-profit companies.

Any company or institution that is growing needs to evaluate which brand architecture strategy will support future growth.

How many products and services are you going to offer?

They might be related to one another in some way or not related – separated. BMW owns Mini, but they’re separated. On the other hand BMW got its series: 3-series, 5-series, 7-series etc.

They try to make it as easy as possible for you to understand what model is right for you.

But that framing of products and services does not apply only to big companies – any company may need brand architecture – depending of course on what is your portfolio.

Brand Architecture Benefits

You might be thinking:

My brand is too small to benefit from brand architecture.

But an architecture of brands isn’t just for multinational corporations. Even small brands can see measurable improvements in performance by better organizing their offerings.

9 Benefits of having a brand architecture:

  1. Ability to target the needs of specific customers.
  2. Reduce the marketing costs.
  3. Clarify brand positioning, naming, and messaging.
  4. Increase flexibility for future product and service expansion.
  5. Build confidence among stakeholders in the direction of your brand.
  6. Ensure clarity and synergy between companies, divisions, products, and services.
  7. Enhance customer awareness & facilitating cross-selling.
  8. Maximize visibility diversification in the marketplace.
  9. Building and protecting brand equity.

Conclusions

Remember that the idea isn’t just to come up with clever names for your various products (like Apple) or use color to differentiate them (like FedEx), but it’s to create clarity from chaos.

And the way to find out what would work best for your business is to conduct meticulous research and decide on how to leverage each of your brand divisions to benefit the whole company.

So how do you put this in action?

First, you need to decide how closely you want to associate your divisions to your parent brand.

As you already now, each architecture type offers a different way to leverage (or not leverage) the parent name.

Second, make sure every product or service that needs a brand gets a brand.

Third, prioritize clarity in the connections across your brands, divisions, products, or services.

Finally, pay close attention to the details of your brand identity system. Naming structure, colors, typography, and symbol placement should all align with your overarching brand strategy.

Did you learn something new Today?

Was it helpful? – please let me know in the comments below.