Our experience with brand architecture projects is that they are either really easy or really hard for a business, and there is rarely anything in between.
When It’s Easy, Brand Architecture Reason Trumps Resistance
When a business has a handful of product or service offerings, brand architecture is generally a breeze. Deciding on a masterbrand, overbrand, freestanding or endorser brand strategy is straightforward. The team can readily consider all of the offerings, brands and the audience(s) at the same time. Logic rules, simplicity wins, and, after one of our brand architecture workshops, the leadership team is ready to embrace the chosen brand architecture and won’t resist the expense (and bother) of getting their brand house in order.
When It’s Hard, Resistance Trumps Brand Architecture Reason
A few years ago, we were branding a product line for a national technology brand. It didn’t take long to notice that (i) products were named using different brand architecture strategies and (ii) there was product overlap. The result was that they were surely confusing customers. Our project sponsor urged us to talk to the executive VP in charge. Maybe we could make things better.
Once in the meeting, we highlighted the problems, getting nods from the executive VP. We showed how they were negatively impacting brand awareness and brand marketing effectiveness. When we were done, he said “Sure it is a mess but no one wants to clean it up.” Bottom line, the problem that our sponsors saw vis-a-vis sloppy branding was smaller then the problem of getting all the other execs, brand and product managers to go through a product rationalization and rebranding exercise. It was not even a question of expense or time.
Maybe we were a bit more naive back then. We were stunned by his attitude. But what struck us then as cavalier, now strikes us as realistic, albeit sad. Resistance became a reason unto itself.
The Brand Architecture Lessons
The lesson for brand marketers in small to mid-sized businesses? Don’t let your brand architecture be an after thought. Now is the time — before you have even more brands and customers — to select the best brand architecture. One that will be simple, easy to scale and easy to socialize.
The lesson for brand marketers with large brand portfolios? In a nutshell, the lesson is no pain, no gain. Your business may have over time, acquisition or hazard entered up with a number of architecture types. This may mean that your brand marketing is not as effective as it could be. Your customers may be getting confused. However, optimizing your brand architecture will likely be more of an organization transformation and leadership challenge than a brand marketing project. You need to decide if your business is willing to kick the brand hornets’ nest and transform its brand architecture to build a stronger brand. It will be a painful exercise. Is your team prepared to tackle the challenge? Or, will you have to be content with your brand’s status quo?
For More on Brand Architecture:
For more on brand architecture, our prior six posts on brand architecture are:
What Is Brand Architecture?
How to Choose Your Brand Architecture
Brand Architecture Basics: What Is a Masterbrand?
Brand Architecture Basics: What Is a Sub-Brand?
Brand Architecture: What Is an Endorser Brand?
Brand Architecture: What Is a Freestanding Brand?