Is it better to enter new markets with the current brand or with a new brand? Or with the current brand combined with a sub-brand? What to do with brands after a merger? How to manage a re-branding? How to manage product names? Should they be related to the main brand? Does the brand portfolio support the positioning itself?

The answer to these questions begins with an initial reflection:

– Business portfolios contain different types of brands, different names describing different entities: corporate brands, segment brands, and product brands.

– Often the main question is to identify whether one or more of those marks are actually necessary to represent the company’s products or services.

– There are three main ways to organize the portfolio: from monolithic systems to multi-brand systems, through all combinations of hybrid systems.

What Is A Brand Portfolio: Differences From Brand Architecture

In order for a portfolio of brands to contribute effectively to adding value to the company, it is necessary to analyze what the main determinants are. This is a process that involves research, strategy, and commitment.

A brand portfolio is the total set of labels (brands, sub-brands, product names, variants of names and descriptors) that describe the propositions of all the entities of an Organization, as well as their inter-relationships. At this level, questions arise such as:

What combinations of elements are necessary and what should be their prominence?

What level of prominence should the corporate brand have?

Is a sub-brand necessary?, etc.

On the other hand, and on another level, brand architecture establishes the combination and prominence of verbal and visual elements that represent a specific proposition. At this level, the creative disciplines of naming and design play an important role, since it is here where the visible aspects of the Brand Portfolio directly influence the association of ideas that the structure takes in people’s minds.


Brand Architecture as an Enabler of Strategic Processes

Architecture is the art of projecting, designing, building, modifying and adapting an environment to a new need. This can come at the corporate level (mergers or acquisitions), at the segment level (incorporation of new categories) or at the product level (extensions). But in addition, the analysis outside of these scenarios is also important to ensure the “hygiene” of the company’s portfolio. It will certainly help maintain consistency and facilitate strategic processes such as:

– What is the general relational approach – main brand, brand/sub-brand, endorsement, separate brand or even combinations of them.

– How many brand levels should exist.

– What types of marks exist at each level.

– How brands relate to each other at different levels.

– What are the decision rules for the creation of new brands.

– Which brand identities are dominant and which are secondary.

– What types of names should be used for new trademarks and under what circumstances (usually guided by decision rules).

– Which are the brands that should be implemented in each of the media (media, vehicles, corporate material, product catalogs, uniforms, etc.).

Brand architecture – the way your offering as a whole is presented to the world – is one of the strategic pillars for the sustainable development of the brand. Proper architecture protects brand equity, promotes efficiency, builds internal cohesion and provides a rational process for making all brand decisions. Like all architecture, it must find the right balance between flexibility, economy, aesthetics, precision and emotion.

The current complexity of many organizations, their size and the changes in the markets mean that the brand architecture needs to be fluid and, at the same time, reactive in order to take advantage of the full potential of the brand.

Brands move easily in our emotions, so brand architecture must discover and enhance those emotions that our brand can arouse.

Considerations for Choosing an Optimal Brand Architecture

Determining the right brand architecture for a company is complex. It requires extensive information that allows analysis to give way to an optimal structure. Here are some of the considerations to keep in mind:

1. Let’s identify the stakeholder map, since they are likely to have different needs.

2. Let’s define a clear purpose. Success stories often have a strong brand strategy.

3. Let’s evaluate how the brand adds value to the corporate/segment/product relationship. To do this, we will need to consider the perceived value at each of the levels.

4. Let’s determine the economic implications we can achieve. A monolithic system is much more efficient since each euro has an impact on a single brand.

5. Let’s consider the legal implications. Some structures may involve legal moves and higher taxes.

6. Let’s develop an implementation plan. Once we determine the best architecture model, let’s write a roadmap that facilitates its adoption.

A weak brand architecture can lead to confusion, create internal competition or cannibalism, lead to misallocation of resources, lead to errors in the creation of product names, and lead to missed opportunities to strengthen brand equity.



Carlos Puig Falcó

President of Branward®

Photos: Shutterstock