Purpose and Benefits

Brand architecture is the organizing structure of an organization’s portfolio of brands and sub-brands which specifies the brand roles and the relationships among brands and different product-market brand contexts.  It is the way in which the brands within a company’s portfolio are related to, and differentiated from, one another.  Brand hierarchy trees are used to visually depict relationships of brands and products.  They provide perspective to help in evaluating potential alternative brand architectures.

A successful brand architecture system will make your offerings clear both to the customer and to those inside the organization.  Brand architecture is a very powerful organizing tool for branding.

There are three primary types of brand architecture:

  • The corporate or umbrella brand: Microsoft, Apple, Ford.  This is at the top of hierarchy, with the rest of the brand hierarchy tree flowing from it.
  • The sponsored brands: Microsoft Windows, Apple iPod, Ford Explorer.  The sub-brand is promoted clearly to part of the corporate brand, providing credibility and added-value to the sub-brand.
  • Individual brands: The parent brand, for example Procter & Gamble has little or no prominence, and the product brands essentially are themselves the brand (e.g., Pampers, Bounty, Duracell).  Purposely distinct from the Corporate/Sponsored brand structure, the sub-brands, or individual brands are promoted as stand-alone brands, with typically very little or no indication that they are affiliated with the corporate brand.

Properly designed and implemented, the brand architecture simplifies the purchasing process for the customer, thus strengthening brand identity and brand value.

Key Questions Answered

  • Is our main brand and sub-branding structure easy to understand, both to our customers and internally?
  • Does our brand architecture structure allow for easy, logical brand extensions?
  • How are our competitors structuring their brand architectures, and how does it impact us in terms of positioning in the marketplace?

Research Techniques

  • Secondary research
  • Brand audits
  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research