What Is Brand Architecture House Of Brands v Branded House Examples
Buckling up for a Journey into Brand Architecture
Grab a coffee, or maybe a tea if you’re feeling British, because we’re about to take an intriguing, albeit metaphorical, journey into the world of brand architecture. No need to buckle up, this isn’t that kind of whirlwind adventure. Instead, expect a leisurely yet fascinating stroll into what brand architecture entails, why it matters, and how it can make or break brands both big and small.
Just like Rome, iconic brands are not built in a day. They require vision, strategy, and most crucially, structure to support their growth trajectory. Brand architecture provides this structural scaffolding. It’s the very blueprint that determines if a brand’s house will stand steady or come crashing down.
So let’s get our hard hats on, shall we? Metaphorically, of course. We have an architectural undertaking ahead. We’ll survey the land, lay the foundations, start building, and by the end glimpse the bigger picture of brand architecture works and why it warrants a spot on every brand builder’s project list.
Understanding Brand Architecture
Contrary to popular belief, brand architecture has little to do with blueprints or hard hats. It’s not about physically constructing anything per se, but rather structuring a framework that can support and scale brand growth over time.
At its core, brand architecture provides the metaphorical scaffolding that holds up a brand as it evolves. It starts at the base level with products and services. From there it builds up to encompass company divisions and sectors. Ultimately, it can span entire organizations.
You don’t need to be a giant corporation to benefit from thoughtful brand architecture. Even fledgling startups can and should consider how they want their brand, offerings and identity to progress.
Having a vision to guide your brand architecture is crucial. This strategic framework should equip your brand to:
– Expand into new product lines or ventures while retaining brand familiarity and trust
– Adapt to market changes and rising customer expectations fluidly
– Maintain the core values and essence that make your brand distinctive, amidst external transformations
In short, brand architecture allows brands to stretch their wings without losing sight of what makes them unique. It provides structure and support, yet enough flexibility to capture new opportunities.
Think of brand architecture as enabling controlled, strategic brand growth, not restricting possibility. With the right architectural vision, brands can elevate from a small shopfront to a thriving high-rise, without compromising structural integrity. The foundations laid through thoughtful brand architecture help ensure brands don’t scale beyond their means and collapse under their own ambitions.
Branded House vs House of Brands
When it comes to brand architecture strategies, two key structural models emerge — the Branded House and the House of Brands. These may sound like choices between an architectural magazine or a furniture store, but in actuality they relate to how brands structure their offerings.
A Branded House features a master brand that sits above all sub-brands. The parent brand equity flows down to imbue sub-brands with instant familiarity and recognition.
Take Apple — the mother ship brand sets the tone, style and ethos for all products within its ecosystem. The iPhone, iMac, Apple Watch all align to the Apple brand identity. They leverage the dominant brand presence while targeting specific niches.
In contrast, a House of Brands features a parent company with multiple independent sub-brands sitting beneath it. Each sub-brand has a distinct identity and positioning tailored to its audience.
Unilever exemplifies this model. As a company, Unilever lacks consumer awareness despite owning household names like Dove, Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s. These sub-brands build their own brand equity and followers. Consumers recognize the sub-brands more than the parent Unilever marque.
The Branded House strategy centralizes and channels brand power, lending sub-brands greater visibility through association. It trades independent brand identities for the security of a established parent brand halo.
Meanwhile House of Brands diversifies risk and multiplies brand reach. By fostering distinct sub-brand identities, each can hone in on specific consumer niches effectively.
So which architecture should brands adopt? Each model has upsides depending on business goals and target audiences. Ultimately, brand architecture should reflect and enable your growth strategy.
The core difference comes down to centralized versus decentralized brand control and visibility. Do you want to own the stage or direct from behind the curtains? That’s for you to decide based on your brand vision.
Leveraging Brand Architecture as a Small Brand
Brand architecture isn’t solely for mega corporations or global powerhouses. Smaller brands can also utilize structural models for growth.
You may only offer a handful of products now, but envision how your brand could expand in the future across divisions or sectors. Outline potential branded services, specialty areas, or spin-off companies down the track.
Thinking ahead allows you to put the scaffolding in place today to support future ambitions. You can establish flexible frameworks to accommodate new launches later on.
Here are some simple ways for small brands to employ brand architecture strategies:
Brand specific services or products
Create distinct identities for hero offerings using dedicated brand names, identities and messages. Help them stand out from your core brand.
Segment your brand into divisions or channels
Group products or services into clear segments under descriptive brand names tailored to each niche.
Extend into new specialty areas
Your expertise or tech may have applications beyond your core field. Spin off sub-brands that open up adjacent markets.
Franchise your brand through licensing partnerships
Strategic co-branding allows bigger brands to market your products to new audiences.
Diversify your offerings under a parent brand
Create an endorser brand that brings disparate products under one roof ala Virgin’s approach.
You don’t need to match the scale of Apple or Unilever to gain advantages from thoughtful brand architecture. Start small by carving up specific branded offerings. Test what resonates before expanding the framework.
Carefully crafted brand architecture provides the foundations and scaffolding to support the future evolution of your brand. Size does not matter — by planning ahead and structuring strategically, even small brands can build beautifully. You just need vision, precision and patience to construct long-lasting brand equity over time.
Examining Real-World Brand Architecture
Let’s analyze how major brands employ architecture strategies in the real world.
Apple epitomizes the branded house model. This cohesive structure means every product stems from and reinforces the master brand:
– iPhone, iPad, MacBook – all leverage Apple’s premium brand equity.
– The Apple name sits proudly on all devices, operating systems and services.
– Design, UX and messaging aligns tightly across the ecosystem.
– One consistent identity stretches from the Apple Watch to the App Store.
Conversely, Unilever flourishes as a house of brands:
– 400+ brands span food, refreshment, home and personal care.
– Famous names like Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, Lipton each target unique market segments.
– These sub-brands enjoy autonomy with bespoke identities and positioning.
– They build fame independently without leaning on the corporate Unilever brand.
The house of brands model allows Unilever to own a vast brand portfolio. Sub-brands personally engage narrow niches across diverse categories.
Meanwhile, Apple’s products inherit renown from the mother ship to become category leaders. One brand stretches elegantly across many devices and spheres.
Two differing structures, each enabling market dominance for these giants. But both provide inspiring examples of architects erecting enduring brand equity systematically over time.
The Power of Brand Architecture
Brand architecture is no corporate vanity project. Strategic scaffolding underpins growth for brands large and small.
Let’s distill lessons from the masters:
Branded houses like Apple illustrate brand equity flowing downstream from the mother ship to all products. Reaping consistency, efficiency and halo effects.
Houses of brands like Unilever highlight flexibility. Sub-brands tailored for micro-segments, free to establish their own identity.
– For smaller brands, consider branding premium services, new offerings or divisions for clarity.
– Build flexibility into your architecture. One size rarely fits all as companies scale.
The key is recognizing brand architecture’s potential early, not late. Have vision to erect frameworks accommodating future complexity long before it arrives.
So see brand architecture as a living blueprint for growth, not just an abstract corporate concern. Thoughtful structure gives brands room to blossom.
And like a sturdy trellis guiding vines towards sunlight, the right architecture supports brands to flourish over seasons ahead.
Greetings! I’m Jack, founder of Scythos – where I’ve helped over 50 brands transform into unforgettable identities and stunning digital presences. As a brand strategist and creative consultant, I have over a decade of experience taking brands from wallflowers to the centre of attention.
Looking to get your branding noticed and your business thriving? Reach out anytime to brainstorm creative strategies for making your brand impossible to ignore. I love collaborating with passionate entrepreneurs to conceptualize innovative ways to connect with their audiences.
Whether you need help with a logo, website, content or entire rebrand – let’s chat! I’m always eager to share my ideas, creative concepts and expertise to help brands reach the next level. Together, we can make sure your business gets seen and heard. Follow along on social or send me a message to get the conversation started!