Why the Architecture of Your Brand Matters


When used effectively, branding generates significant revenue for those who make it a priority. A lack of cohesive branding can lead to wasted resources and loss of market share.

People often confuse marketing for branding—or use the terms interchangeably. Marketing sits under the umbrella of branding, yet is a vital component. Marketing is the action taken to broadcast the message about your company, product or service. Branding is the strategy used to develop the correct message, identify the ideal recipient of the message, distribute the message and enhance the company’s sustainability. Marketing is the advertisement of the service or product, whereas branding is pricing the service and identifying the market to advertise to. Marketing is the decision to use a specific social media platform and a website or landing page to deliver the message, reach the customer and offer the product or service. Branding is developing the content strategy to be placed on the social media platform and on the website that will resonate with the ideal consumer.

Personally, I like to think of branding as the strategic approach to advancing the company and marketing as the proactive approach to advancing the company. By understanding the true impact of branding, an organization can get to a place where the market demands their product and service—where it’s top of mind instead of out of mind.  The key to becoming in demand in your market and capturing the top-of-mind position is to first outline the architecture of your brand. 

What is brand architecture?

Brand architecture is the company’s portfolio of products and or services. They can be related, co-dependent or independent of each of other. The company will typically have a parent brand and family of sub-brands. Effective management of the architecture enhances the shareholders’ value by giving them a clear road map to brand valuation, in the event of resale or investment. There are four types of brand architecture models that every business should know about. Businesses can then understand which model their company currently uses or decide on which model best serves them.

  • Umbrella brand: When a brand name extends across a range of sub-brands that typically fall in the same category or service market. A good example is the parent brand FedEx. FedEx has a primary service market of transportation of items, for example, FedEx Ground, FedEx Express and Fed Ex Freight.
  • Product brand: When the products and services are independent sub-brands in different service markets that don’t depend on the parent company name. This architecture is typically adopted by large, multinational corporations. A good example is the parent brand Procter & Gamble. P & G has a primary service market of consumer goods, such as Tide laundry detergent, Duracell batteries, and Gillette razors.
  • Endorsed brand: When products and services are dependent on the parent brand for recognition and mobilization. The sub-brand will always be linked to the corporate brand verbally and visually. A good example is the parent brand 3M. 3M has a primary service market of products for daily use, such as Post-it, Scotch, Command and Tegaderm.
  • Monolithic brand: When product and service sub-brands are in different service markets but they use the parent brand name for each category. This model is typically used to minimize risk when crossing into other categories while maintaining the brand recognition and brand promise. A good example is the parent brand Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi has a primary service market of automotive manufacturing, but they also operate in other markets such as Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks, Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Estate.

The architecture of your brand matters

Understanding the architecture model of your company brand will give you insight into the “how, what, where, when and why” you will need to make profitable decisions as thought leaders in your industry. It will give clarity and insight into what needs to be done to maximize the operations of the company with the least amount of frustration. Let’s take P & G which using the product brand model. The marketing strategies for laundry detergents Tide and Gain are very different. Tide is the high-end laundry detergent and Gain is the medium-end laundry detergent. The content strategy and pricing strategy are completely different. Where, how and when they launch the campaigns for each are also different. The copy for the marketing message is different. The containers are even different. Understanding the brand architecture model guides decisions like these.

Let’s take a company that has a service market of food and decides to use the umbrella brand model. We’ll call the company “EatGood.” They have four sub-brands; Dine In, Take Out, Frozen and Airport Concession Stand. Each sub-brand will be headed with the parent brand name. Each sub-brand will have its own financial needs, marketing campaigns, pricing strategy, target audience, packaging and presentation, resources and growth goals. One sub-brand is not designed to financially support the other, nor will they be used interchangeably. For example, the resources needed for EatGood Frozen Food is shelf space while EatGood Concession Stand will need actual square footage, staff, equipment and shelving. Understanding the architecture model is vital when making decisions like these.

Brand architecture is the foundation and guiding light for decision making. It reduces waste of resources and duplication of effort. It eliminates confusion and fuels growth. Not understanding  the company brand leads to frustration, wasted marketing efforts and meager results.

Natasha Davis

Natasha Davis is a branding strategist and corporate trainer. As a certified expert in email and social media marketing, branding, speaker, author and trainer, she thrives on fixing problems and eliminating frustrations for companies and their executives. Over the past 15 years, Davis has worked with several companies and professionals to assist them in enhancing their business potential, brand equity, brand loyalty, cash flow, customer satisfaction and marketing strategy through the power of impactful branding.

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