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Brand Architecture: A Foundation For Managing Multiple Brands

What It Means

Your brand architecture is an organizing structure that defines how all of your brands and products are related to and differentiated from one another.

There are four main brand architecture strategies you can employ, from focusing on a single corporate brand that includes multiple products to focusing on multiple distinct brands while giving the parent company (the corporate brand) little or no attention. Each approach carries its own challenges and opportunities.

The simplest way to understand the different options may be to think about the way a company's brands are named, because this can give you a clue as to where that company is trying to build brand equity. See the spectrum below for explanations and examples.

Why It Matters

Clear, strong brand architecture is important to maximize the effectiveness of your business and marketing decisions. For example, it can show you whether to focus on building equity in the parent company or in your individual brands. It can help you keep your target audiences and messaging distinct to strengthen customer loyalty and avoid cannibalization. It can also help you figure out when to add new brands and when to remove or transition certain brands.

When To Redesign It

Companies often recognize the need to evaluate their brand architecture when they're going through a transition, especially adding or evolving brands in their portfolios. That makes sense because every brand you add or change affects the rest of your brands. However, even in the absence of a transition, your brand architecture should be reexamined occasionally.

When evaluating your brand architecture, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we have a clearly defined structure already in place?
  • Does each of our brands have a clear and distinct role in our portfolio?
  • Can our target audiences easily tell our brands apart from one another?
  • Can they easily tell how our brands relate to one another when we want them to?
  • Are all our brands and products tied to the parent company in a consistent way? If not, do we have a strategic reason?

For those who market cars and automotive products to Millennials, it's critical that you shape your efforts and customer service practices accordingly. Ensure that Millennials can quickly and easily research cars and automotive products and services via their mobile devices. Given the research cited above you should also consider the following approaches:

  • Expedite the purchasing process. Whether you sell cars or car parts or provide automotive services, help Millennials accomplish as much as they can online as quickly as possible. This includes answering their questions immediately, preferably through text, chat or email. Experience matters tremendously to Millennials, so if they're sitting around your dealership for hours or have to wait too long to receive parts purchased online, you'll lose them as customers.
  • Respect their desire for transparency. Provide clear and accurate information throughout all phases of the Millennials' shopper journey. Forget about selling them on a "great deal." Instead, offer as much detail as you can about your pricing and any related costs they need to take into consideration. This will go a long way in establishing trust and building long-term relationships with Millennial customers.
  • Respond to their need for self-expression. Give Millennials the tools and technology that let them see how different features and products can have a significant impact on their car's appearance. Encourage them to think through all of their options so that they end up with a car that truly reflects who they are.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, or if you're not sure, it may be time to take a closer look.