You may be familiar with the concept of brand architecture , but despite having elements in common, naming architecture focuses on a parallel purpose and requires its own approach. While the former is aimed at establishing the relationships and roles between different levels of brands, the latter is more about identifying how to create name hierarchies in a consistent way, with the aim of making the whole offer clearer.

When working strategically, naming architecture makes it easy to order the names of all the brands in a portfolio so that the right relationships are established between all of them in order to bring clarity and value to the brands. It’s a strategy aimed at identifying what types of names work best in a portfolio.

Any company needs to develop its naming architecture strategy from the very beginning, even when due to its own growth it encounters inconsistent proposals, or after going through mergers or acquisitions processes that make it necessary to clarify the offer.

There are essentially 3 types of naming alternatives:
extension naming, association naming and individual naming.
Each of them may vary depending on its greater or lesser proximity to the parent brand. With the first strategy, extension naming, the name of a new brand is directly linked to the original brand. In the opposite case, we would find the individual naming, where the new name would have no relation to the mother brand. And in the middle of both would be association naming.


Creating recognition for a new name takes time and money. The ability to use an existing name, or part of it, can make things a lot easier. Despite this, it is not without risks, since any problem with the original name can drag down the rest. Under this strategy we can find two different typologies to address name extensions:

  1. Direct Extension

    The Company uses the original brand to introduce a new product/service. For example: Google uses Google Maps for its maps or Google Calendar for its calendar.

  2. Indirect Extension

    It is based on some feature of the original name to name the new brand. For example: McDonalds uses “Mc” for its McCafe or McMenu extensions.


At this level of associative names we can find several typologies:

  1. Subnaming

    This alternative is based on adding a new name to an existing one, so that a special version of the original is generated. It is interesting that in this case a family strategy is used that facilitates identification and reinforces the value of the original brand. For example: Seat Ibiza, Seat Leon, Seat Tarraco

  2. Endorsement

    The new name is created under the endorsement of the original brand. Example: Me by Meliá, Paradisus by Meliá, Innside by Meliá

  3. Co-branding

    In this scenario, two brands with well-known names come together to form another that combines the strengths of both brands. Example: Disney Pixar.


Associated with the models of independent brands (House of brands), in this case different market segments are attacked with unlinked brand names in each of them. For example, Toyota and its Lexus range that operates without any link to the corporate brand.

The key to all of this is that naming architecture should focus on creating consistent naming systems. It’s not so much an exercise in creativity as it is a strategic exercise that will result in the rationalization of portfolio names. To achieve this, it is necessary to start with an orderly method:


  1. Portfolio Audit

As it could not be otherwise, the starting point is to analyze and understand the original situation, the way in which the current portfolio is structured and the naming systems that have been used. No two companies are the same and it will be necessary to establish the framework on which to organize the name architecture strategy.

  1. Typology selection

From the initial audit, the next step is to determine the criteria for the selection of the types of names for the set of brands in the portfolio. Descriptive, evocative, abstract, toponymic… Among all the alternatives, it will be necessary to identify which one may be the most appropriate for each case based on a series of criteria such as: strength of the main brand, name strategies followed to date, need for differentiation, possibility of investment in communication, etc. The type of name will need to balance strategy, communication, and the ability to be registered.

  1. Nomenclature system

This step is about streamlining how the names will be presented together in the portfolio. Initially, it will be necessary to determine the general structure and hierarchy of the names, contemplating the relationships between each of them. Next, the creation of basic concepts for the naming exercise can be addressed, that is, what are the common elements to consider and how the new name will be used in the communication.

  1. Standardization

Finally, it is critical to ensure that the naming architecture strategy will remain consistent over time. This is achieved by developing governance systems that incorporate decision trees and style guides so that anyone involved in the processes can follow the same procedures and rules.

And remember, success is 20% skill and 80% strategy. Maybe you know how to stand out, but more importantly, do you have a plan for success?


Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward®

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