Brand architecture refers to the hierarchy of brands within a single company. It is the interrelationship of the parent company, subsidiary companies, products, and services, and should mirror the marketing strategy. It is important to bring consistency, visual and verbal order, thought, and intention to disparate elements to help a company grow and market more effectively.

As companies merge with others and acquire new companies and products, the branding, nomenclature, and marketing decisions become exceedingly complex. Decision makers examine marketing, cost, time, and legal implications.

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. Most large companies that sell products and services have a mixture of strategies. That’s where we come in–determining how to create modular capabilities within a brand that are easy to understand, implement, and manage, let alone grow in the future.

While marketing strategists have identified numerous brand architecture scenarios–such as monolithic, endorsed, or plural structure, there is no universal agreement on brand architecture terms.

At QCMG, we ask the strategic questions first, such as:

  • What are the benefits of leveraging the name of the parent company?
  • Does the positioning of our new entity require that we distance it from the parent?
  • Will co-branding confuse consumers?
  • Do we change the name or build on existing equity even though it was owned by a competitor?
  • Should we ensure that the parent company is always visible in a secondary position?
  • How do we brand this new acquisition?

Examples of brand architecture:

Monolithic structure:

  • Google + Google Maps
  • FedEx + FedEx Express GE + GE
  • Healthcare Virgin + Virgin Mobile
  • Vanguard + Vanguard ETF

Endorsed Structure:

  • iPod + Apple
  • Polo + Ralph Lauren
  • Oreo + Nabisco
  • Navy Seals + the U.S. Navy

Pluralistic Structure:

  • Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Tang (Kraft Foods)
    Godiva Chocolate (Campbell Soup)
  • The Ritz-Carlton (Marriott)
  • Hellmann’s Mayonnaise (Unilever)

Let us remove the chaos. Let’s talk architecture

FedEx is a classic example of endorsed brand architecture.

FedEx is a classic example of endorsed brand architecture.

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