The subject of branding has enjoyed quite a frenzy in the field of business studies. As marketers we take an immense amount of time, and joy, to roll out branding or marketing campaigns. The success of these initiatives is another discussion. However as local marketers what we do lack is the understanding of strategic branding.
If you have ever wondered whether there’s a logic behind a company’s portfolio, there is. It’s called the Brand Architecture. Architecture is the process of planning, designing and crafting buildings or other structures. Brand architecture shares the essence of planning, designing, and crafting, but for brands. The concept guides the manner a company manages its portfolio of products.
“Brand Architecture is a system that organizes brands, products and services to help an audience access and relate to a brand” – Steve Gilman (Gilman, 2012)
The definition above captures an important aspect of the entire concept of brand architecture – “help an audience access and relate to a brand”. The whole idea of having a proper brand architecture is so that your consumers and customers understand what your products stand for and differs itself in the portfolio. If customers are confused regarding the differences in your portfolio, then you really need to assess your brand architecture.
Most multinational organizations have a plug & play brand architecture which was originally set by the parent office. Guidelines are set as such that local offices don’t go off from the original strategy or vision and create chaos in the minds of the consumers. This is one of the reasons why developing countries do not find access to a company’s entire portfolio. Too many products clutter the mind of the consumers. Just like any marketing campaign, simplicity is also a rule of thumb when it comes to brand architecture.
In building a brand architecture it’s important that the architect knows where to start from and has already envisioned where to end. Many marketers share the tendency to create an all-rounder brand which not only confuses the buyers but ends up cannibalizing other products in the portfolio. Even worse, brands that are forced to fit the architecture cause a certain negative impact on other brands.
Brand architecture are set guidelines and as marketers we shouldn’t try to tamper with it to gain short term benefits and lose our long term vision. While I’ll be going in-depth regarding the role of the customer and building brand architectures in upcoming articles, most of my thoughts will be initiating from or ending up towards the most important (in my opinion) stakeholder of a business; the customers.