How to Organize your Brands?


By Aschalew Tamiru

On the same newspaper, I have been writing various branding related articles; Misconception about Branding, Basics to Successful Branding, Why Do Brands Matter, Can anything be Branded and Which type of logo fits your business are among others.
In this article, under the title of “How to Organize your Brands?’’; one of the elements of branding called Brand Architecture with the accompanied Brand Architecture model types will be presenting in brief.
Brand architecture is a way of organizing the different subsections of a larger brand; it is the relationship between brands within an organization and how they interact with one another. Brand architecture shows us how the sub-brands of a larger whole are organized, and how they all relate to each other. It can help a company to see how to keep parts of a brand separate when needed, and also how to allow them to work together to boost one another in the market.
No matter how many products or services a company is offering, the company should think about how its target market in particular and the general public will recognize each of the products. Brand architecture helps the company to define what that relationship is, and helps its brand stay organized internally.
Brand architecture is also a road map for brand identity, development and design, and increases flexibility for product or service expansion in the future. From promotions and communications point of view, organized brand architecture helps a company to reach its target market for each product or service that it offers.
Brand architecture is the ability to uniquely pair products with the right target market through branding is a key element in positioning organization for healthy marketing and healthy growth.
Various branding scholars classify brand architectures differently. The below are the commonly used models of brand architectures among most renowned companies.
The branded house, the house of brands, and the hybrid brand. Each model has its own benefits and drawbacks.
The Branded House
In the branded house, a family brand /the main brand/-typically one with some influence-run the show. All of the sub-brands are subordinate to the parent or family brand, and they usually will share a name with a qualifier to explain exactly what that sub-brand does. Every product carries the name of the business and draws its identity almost entirely from the parent brand. There is one trademark followed by descriptive names for each product/service, one system (promise, personality, visual and verbal identity) used for all the products/services that the organisation develops.
From a branding standpoint, all business units, subsidiaries and divisions share the same brand. This model emphasises a single master brand-sometimes referred to as the umbrella or parent brand-that sits over the other brands within an organisation. The basic concept is to gain economic leverage by investing at the master brand level and then using product names or descriptors to call out product-level attributes.
Google is one example of the branded house brand architecture model, with their operating companies and portfolio of solutions all falling under the name of the master brand that is google. This structure makes for a consistent experience, minimizes confusion, and builds equity for the corporate brand, google in the above architecture. This structure is a particularly good option when the products are in the same category or offer a similar set of benefits. Branded houses can consolidate investment behind one master brand.
The House of Brands
The house of brands also called freestanding or portfolio brand emphasise a single strong ‘master brand’ that sits over a portfolio of brands, each with a unique brand positioning tailored to a particular market segment. With this model, individual products or companies have their own separate names, personalities, audiences and target market they can focus on what they each do best and operate as individual companies in their specialist areas.
The house of brands is basically the opposite of the branded house. There’s a parent of brand, but it’s not reflected in the sub-brands in an obvious way. In fact, often the parent brand is in the background, overshadowed by one or more of its sub-brands. To most customers, the parent is irrelevant compared to the individual products that it distributes.
Examples for the house of brands are the well-known Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies, P&G (Procter & Gamble) and Unilever, with dozens of product brands under the parents P&G and Unilever brands. This structure makes sense for P&G and Unilever due to their large number of products, many of which have been marketed for decades under the product names.
This model makes the main corporate brand much less vulnerable to major dishonour or negative brand associations that might affect one subsidiary brand.
Building multiple brands is very resource intensive. It takes more time, money and energy. Subsidiaries don’t benefit from any shared brand equity; therefore a substantial marketing budget is required to build awareness of each individual brand.
Hybrid Brand
Hybrid brand architecture comprises some combination of the above iterations. The hybrid model aims to incorporate elements of both the branded house and house of brands models to give each brand maximum advantage, either through support or independence. In this case, some sub-brands links to the master brand, but others remain separate. Coca Cola is one example of the Hybrid brand architecture model.
Most branding scholars acclaim that Hybrid branding is typically used when a firm is often changing brand architectures, or acquiring existing brands through mergers or acquisitions.
The benefits of strong brand architecture, if a brand has more than one offering which have their own identity, developing brand architecture will have numerous benefits. Following is the benefits of brand architecture:-
Clarity in the marketplace– Having well-structured brand architecture increases the clarity of brands offered and their relation with each other. This not only clears many doubts of the internal audience or employees but it also helps in making better decisions to inform the marketplace about what the company’s communication strategy originally lacked.
Synergy among brands – Brand architecture lists the relationship among different sub brands and the master brands which eventually creates a synergy among the offerings and helps the company communicate about combined solutions and how these brands complement each other.(cross selling)
Target specific customer segments– Brand architecture effectively segment the target market and makes it clear what offering serves which segment. This often helps the company in making effective marketing strategies for brands which seem similar.
Clarity in positioning and communication– It’s easier to develop positioning and communication strategies for each sub-brand and brand extension /adding another brand/ if the company has a well-structured brand architecture.
Enhance customer awareness– Brand architecture requires the company to look with the eyes of the customers. During the brand architecture process, the problems in the present marketing and communication strategies can be pointed out and customers can be made aware of the offerings they didn’t know were offered by their favourable brand.
Build & enhance brand equity /Value of the brand/– Brand architecture also helps the company make strategies to build and enhance the brand equity of its sub-brands. It also lets the organisation lend its corporate brand equity to its offerings.

Aschalew Tamiru was a full time lecturer at various universities, currently he is working with Dashen Bank, as Marketing and Customer Experience Director.
Aschalew holds MA in Marketing Management from Addis Ababa University. He is a writer of Make a Difference with Customer Service book and a certified Management Consultant. He can be reached by