Brand Architecture

Before the construction crew hammers its first nail, there is an architecture — be it implied or fully considered — that specifies and resolves all of the systems that will define the home and how they relate. Companies too must resolve how their brands relate through Brand Architecture.

Brand Architecture is truly ‘design’ with a capital D. As with the earlier house example, it is the definition of a clear and present set of systems that make up the whole. And within the home, these systems remain wholly related to each other. In this case, “architecture” is both the verb (the planning and doing) and what results as a noun (the blueprints and the physical home).

So we ask: How will I use this house? How can I update or change things over time? And if I change one thing, what else will be affected? How will it look when it’s all finished and more importantly, how will it function? Is each room part of a cohesive design scheme or does each room offer a different experience?

Brand Architecture defined: Think of Brand Architecture as the organizational system for classifying and relating to (or differentiating) all of the brands that exist within the entity.

Within the brand itself, a Brand Architecture assists to define the role and the function of all of the elements that make up the brand — brand identity and image, for example, or tone and voice — and how those elements relate to each other.

The value of a well-defined brand architecture is in the clarity it provides. How does the brand identity serve the brand? What changes or modifications should be made so that it performs as it was intended? What are the brands that exist above it (the Master Brand) or below? What other systems must be developed to support it? What are the current existing and possible future extensions of the brand?

Further: What type of Brand Architecture defines us? Are we a ‘Branded House’ like Virgin (think Virgin Air, Virgin Records or Virgin Mobile) or a ‘House of Brands’ (like Proctor and Gamble’s brands Tide, Crest, Duracell and others)? Or is it a hybrid, (like Microsoft), with its master brand products (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Project), its endorsed brands (like XBox or Bing) and its often acquired, freestanding brands such as Skype or Nokia? Each of the three main Brand Architecture models outlined above can succeed and each model has its unique strengths and weaknesses.

Brand Architecture process and deliverables:

  • Collaborative work in identifying all elements of brand
  • Identify opportunities to improve efficiencies or explore brand extensions
  • Visual Brand Architecture and organizational charting
  • Brand Map (expanded view of Brand Architecture)

Brand Architecture Work