The term “brand architecture” is not so much misunderstood as misinterpreted by many smaller businesses. They see it as an issue just for the big end of town; for large corporations with complex brand portfolios working across multiple markets.
But it’s not. I talk about brand architecture or multiple brand management with a number of clients, many of which are small, often family owned, businesses.
At its most basic, brand architecture is about how to effectively, efficiently and safely expand what you do – whether that be new products, new markets or new consumer demographics.
The theory goes like this. At one end of the spectrum is the “branded house”, where everything a company offers carries the same brand name. At the other end is the “house of brands”, where one company (perhaps with a name consumers never need to know) owns different brands for different products.
Where a business sits, or wants to sit, along that spectrum depends on how, where and why it wants to diversify, and what the potential risks and benefits are.
In simple terms, businesses expand in one of three ways. They start selling their products or services into new markets; they develop new products or services of their own; or they buy existing companies or brands.
In any of those scenarios, the obvious advantage of a “branded house” is that you only have to market one brand. But that assumes the same brand will work for a new market or demographic. If it doesn’t, your main brand could be damaged.
And why would it fail? Well it might be that your brand is associated with an older age group and just doesn’t resonate with a younger crowd (so you should have given it a younger name). Or the brand you bought might have had a reputation that was lost when its name changed. Or the people of Sydney might have had no interest in buying from Adelaide Caravans!
You can learn a lot from Ralph Lauren – and you don’t need its global name or reputation. “Polo by Ralph Lauren” allowed it to create and endorse a range of casual clothing without suggesting the prestigious Ralph Lauren brand was changing in any way. It did the same when it wanted to introduce a cheaper clothing line and one for women.
It’s all about using brands to help achieve your business’s overall strategic direction.
Have any questions regarding brand architecture? Feel free to send me an email at email@example.com