The Beauty and the Beast of Brand Architecture

Building a brand can be a mind-boggling affair – many companies have no idea where to start when creating a new brand, let alone developing an existing brand. In some ways, building a new brand from scratch when setting up a new company is much easier than developing or diversifying an existing brand.

Consider that building a new brand is much like creating a person; what do they look like? What is their personality? How do they talk? What are their passions and interests? What story are they telling? These elements all help to create a brand. The purpose of consistently delivering messages in line with a company’s brand is to develop relationships and grow the business.

If a company is looking to diversify its brand it will develop its brand architecture, which is the term used to define the structure of sub-brands organised under a parent brand. This happens when a company wishes to offer different products and services or when a company wishes to enter a new market.

The main types of brand architecture include:

  • Monolithic – this technique is favoured for maintaining brand loyalty and features an overarching brand that is used across multiple products to generate sub-brands. For example: Virgin Media, Virgin Airways, Virgin Active.
  • Endorsed – these are individual product brands that are linked by an endorsing parent brand. This could be when an established brand is purchased by a larger organisation, for example: Kellogg’s Special K, Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut.
  • Pluralistic – is usually a group of well-known consumer brands that sits under a parent brand. Often the parent brand is not known or present in the advertising and promotion of the sub-brand. For example, Unilever brands include Dove, Ben & Jerry’s and Pot Noodle to name a few.

For many small and medium-sized businesses, there can be many key advantages in implementing sub-brands under the monolithic brand architecture model. However, it is also important to be aware of the disadvantages:

Beauty – If done successfully, creating sub-brands can strengthen the main brand by having the increased number of products and services working together toward an end goal. 

Beast – When a sub-brand is unsuccessful, it also damages the reputation of the parent brand which can ultimately affect the customer’s loyalty, trust and custom.

Beauty – A sub-brand enhances the overall brand reputation and increases customer awareness of the main brand, which can also facilitate cross-selling.

Beast – If sub-brands are not used in the correct way it can cause confusion for customers which fragments the voice and weakens the image of the main brand.  

Beauty – Creating sub-brands can differentiate the main brand from competitors, enabling the company to cast a wider net and target new audiences.

Beast – It takes extra time and effort for a company to keep momentum going with a sub-brand, and this can take a business owner’s focus away from the main brand.

Sub-brands can be confusing for business owners and customers but, if implemented successfully, can ultimately help to strengthen the overall brand. If you are considering a sub-brand for your business, ensure that your messages are clear and consistent and fit with your company vision. Ensure the sub-brand is clearly linked to your main brand to avoid any confusion.

It is also important to start your sub-brand communication strategy internally – if employees do not understand the new vision, how will your customers? Click here for our top tips on internal marketing. Finally, communicating your brand and sub-brands requires constant work with much of the promotion now being focused online, so you will need to have a good understanding of digital marketing and how good SEO can benefit your company.

For more help and advice on how to grow your business, contact Shooting Star – we work closely with our clients to understand their business and implement suitable PR, marketing and digital tactics to achieve results. Contact a friendly member of our team to find out how we can help you. EVN