Brand Architecture – Types II

There’s a very good reason that you don’t see BSRM or Berger Paints expose you to their contents on the same frequency Lux does. They know you don’t care. Why? Because you don’t need it today or tomorrow or the upcoming month. But you do need Lux and its sister brands from the Unilever portfolio. But again why does it matter?

When products have a nature that causes consumers to repeatedly interact with it, it’s important for the company to have one single name to go along with it. Lux is the one name they want you to have on the top of your mind for beauty soap. And through repeated exposure to their marketing campaigns, you know that to fulfil your need you can always reach out to your nearest store and buy the product. Lux, a unique member of the Unilever brand portfolio, stands as the symbol of beauty soap in the market.

Unilever Portfolio
Figure 1: Unilever Portfolio, Source: Google

Consumers do not refer it to as the Unilever’s soap nor do consumers seek Unilever’s advice regarding the products when buying. Now the average consumer wants to wash his/her hair as well. Brief look into this particular nature of demand reveals that it’s frequent and does not necessarily have to do anything with either age or income. Sunsilk comes into the picture. Another brand in the Unilever portfolio that aims at a specific need and is marketed to hammer the same message to the consumers (Sunsilk is for hair).

Type 1: House of Brands/Pluralistic Brand Architecture

Unilever’s approach to brand architecture is termed House of Brands or Pluralistic Brand Architecture. Basically means, that the mother brand does not necessarily share commonality (name-wise) with the product brands it has under its umbrella. The reason for this type of architecture is simple.

Unilever sells products that are frequently bought and experience a high level of customer interaction. It’s important that the customer is provided with a simple message yet strong message for each product’s need gratification. The products require unique branding for themselves to stand out to the customers. Now does it necessarily have to? No, but it helps a lot better.

Type 2: Endorsed Brand Architecture

Pran Foods implements the exact opposite strategy. Most of their product brands are endorsed with the master brand to ensure identity in the consumer’s mind, e.g. Pran Frooto, Pran Up. Instead of developing individual identities for its products, Pran leverages its master brands to become relatable to its customers.

Pran Portfolio
Figure 2: Sample of Pran’s Portfolio

The major challenge for keeping such an architecture for products with high customer interaction is that customers are more likely to forget. In Unilever’s case, each brand under its umbrella stands as an individual person to its customers. When visiting stores, customers can easily relate to and understand the product’s offerings just by its brand name. Unilever provides different touch points for different needs.

In Pran’s case there is only one touch point for its consumers; Pran. You could already observe how the clarity of its offerings is drastically decreased in your mind. The single meaning provided by Lux or Sunsilk isn’t present in Pran. When someone would say Pran to you, a single product will not appear in your mind. Strategies differ and so do their brand architectures. There’s no right and wrong here, just what fits and bears returns. Pran finds return and strategic fit with Endorsed Brand Architecture, while Unilever finds its best returns with Pluralistic Brand Architecture.

Type 3: Monolithic Brand Architecture/Branded House

Brands like BSRM, Berger, and FedEx have quite a low interaction with its customers. You build a house for yourself once in a lifetime, and that’s a very small window of opportunity for a company. During that moment when you decide what to build your home with, exposing you to several brands or an entire portfolio would only confuse and deter you from the brand.

Companies offering products with low interaction frequency tend to promote only one touch-point. One brand to connect you to the company and then as you describe your need, they offer their different products.

BSRM Portfolio
Figure 3: Sample of BSRM Portfolio

BSRM follows a monolithic brand architecture as shown above. The company knows that its consumers provide a limited opportunity to interact and it’s important the company promotes one single touchpoint to pull the customer in. A customer can’t be fed irrelevant information through marketing, genuine interest/need must exist. A customer building his home would show genuine interest in choosing the right product at the moment of purchase than any other time.

All branding efforts are dedicated to keep the parent name on top of mind. When a customer approaches BSRM with the decision to buy, the companies presents its portfolio of products and analyzes which one would suit the customer’s need most. See how the architecture enables the company to offer a smooth relevant journey to the customer.

Brand architecture is crucial not only because it dictates how sub-brands are to be marketed and positioned, but it guides how your business is to be run. For a brand architecture to be truly successful, it’s important that the business understands its customers first. At the end if you’re brand architecture isn’t allowing smooth access and journey to the customers, the architecture is failing.


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