As a brand marketer you can’t afford to be ignorant about Brand Architecture. Beyond your need to grasp this kind of branding fundamental, your organization will be best served if your brand architecture is planned to allow effective scaling as additional offerings are added to your portfolio.
As described in our post What Is Brand Architecture? there are four main options:
Sub-Brands — There is a corporate trademark and sub-brand trademarks. For example: Apple iPad.
Masterbrand — There is only one trademark and then descriptive names. For example: Rogers Home Phone or AT&T Device Protection & Control.
Freestanding Brands — There are many brands, speaking to many different audiences designed to stand apart. For example: Pringles, Old Spice, Luvs Diapers, and Gillette are all freestanding brands of Proctor & Gamble.
Endorser Brand — There are separate product brands linked together by an endorsing brand. For example: Oreo Cookies by Nabisco.
What Type of Brand Architecture Should You Choose?
Most of the firms we meet haven’t really thought through their brand architecture. In fact, they are so excited by introducing a new offer that they just assume it requires its own name and logo. This classic over-branding is the norm — especially in the tech space — but it happens in every type of business and organization. Most businesses are best served by committing to the simplest brand architecture that works.
Ask Yourself These Questions Before You Invest in Branding Your Next Offer:
- Does your firm offer under 20 different products or services? If firms like AT&T can have 1000+ offerings that are all called “AT&T Descriptive Name Here” ex. AT&T Device Protection & Control (which we named), why does a firm with 20 or less products and services need to come up with a unique name and even logo for your new brand? If there is no reason for unique branding, consider a masterbrand strategy.
- Can you afford the creative and legal costs of creating a new trademark? Every new trademark means legal fees and legal risk that you may be infringing on another trademark.
- Do your customers care? Will it make a difference to your audience if you use a trade-marked name or a descriptive name (which will not be trade-marked)? If your customer does not care, then the masterbrand architecture may well be the way to go.
- Is the nature of your new offer so alien to existing offers that it could negatively warp perceptions of your current brand(s)? If so, a freestanding brand architecture could be what you need. If this is your approach, then you must keep in mind that you will require more investment to build brand awareness for your new brand.
- Will your new offer create confusion with your audiences? If so, a freestanding or endorser brand architecture could be what will work best for your organization and your customers.
- Have you acquired or do you have a portfolio of strong freestanding brands? Is there value in linking your freestranding brands with each other and new offerings? If this is your strategy, then an endorser brand architecture could meet your needs.
- Do you expect your new solution to erode or disrupt existing sales? If so, a freestanding brand strategy will assist you in minimizing cannibalization of sales of your current offering.
Your Brand Building and Marketing will Best Serve Your Business if You:
- Carefully think through your brand architecture (either through internal work or with the help of an expert)
- Commit to your architecture choice
- Ensure you house your existing and new offerings within your chosen architecture.