Touchpoints & Interaction: Apply Brand Architecture

by | Aug 13, 2018


This article continues examining, in depth, the parts of the branding process that I introduced in my e-book, 17 Mistakes that Can Harm Your Brand. In the book, I outline five phases of the branding process:

The final step of Phase 4, applying brand architecture, is a continuation of the work that began in Phase 1 and was again addressed in Phase 3. In Phase 1 you were introduced to the various brand architectures. To quickly review, there are three types of architectures:

The House of Brands Architecture–All of your brands have their own look and feel, independent of the masterbrand.

The Branded House Architecture–All of the brands leverage the masterbrand.

The Hybrid Architecture–Some of the brands use the masterbrand while others are independent.

In Phase 1 you researched different brands and which architecture they used. This was to help you grasp how your brand might set up its architecture.

After the researching in Phase 1 you revisited brand architecture in step 5 of Phase 3, when you needed to finalize your brand architecture. This step also presented you with four questions geared toward helping you know and understand which brand architecture would best suit your brand. These questions were:

  1. How is our brand recognized?
  2. How do our offerings tie to our brand?
  3. How are new and existing offerings named and branded?
  4. How do internal divisions impact your brand?

With the architecture type selected and finalized you are ready to move into applying. When it comes to applying your brand architecture you need to put everything you learned previously into motion. This step not only sets up the established sub-brand(s), it allows you to know how to add and apply any future sub-brands.

The previous steps help you determine the connection of a sub-brand to the master-brand. However, knowing how your product might connect with your masterbrand is only part of applying your brand architecture. While each sub-brand connects to your masterbrand, each sub-brand may have its own brand differentiation that need to take place.

A good example of this is Apple. Over time Apple has released multiple products. The vast majority of these products have been successful. While each product is successful it is still branded under the masterbrand, such as the Apple iPhone or Apple MacBook. While commonly referred to without the Apple name (just iPhone or MacBook), there is still the connection to the masterbrand. Within each product category there are differentiations. Take the iPhone for example. If you currently go to Apple’s website there are 5 iPhone iterations for someone to choose between. Apple uses a version number (iPhone 8 vs iPhone 6s, for example) to signal to the customer where the product stands in the product story. (Obviously the iPhone 8 is better than the 6, right?) There is some assumption on Apple’s part that customers will clearly understand this progression. With their MacBook line they have the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. Again, assuming that they have given customers a clear understanding of the story for their products.

It doesn’t stop there, however. Each one of these products we have mentioned, in turn, has their own sub-differentiators. With the iPhone, there are things like storage capacity, body colors, or screen size. Each iteration still needs a branding decision made as to how each version or iteration will tie into the overarching Apple story.

This is what you need to do with your brand as you start to apply your brand architecture. Be sure to account for all the sub-brands and their possible differentiations that might be needed. You need to apply your brand architecture thoroughly throughout your entire brand offering.

Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:

  • Identify the sub-brand needs to begin applying your brand architecture
  • Map out the parts needed to successfully brand all sub deviations for your brand and sub-brands
TERMS click to expand or collapse

Brand: The mixture of tangibles, both physical and intangible that when combined and exercised and managed properly, differentiate one from a competitor.

Masterbrand: A specific brand that is the main point in which all other sub-brands/products brands base their branding.

Brand Architecture: The way a brand structures sub-brands and how they interact with each other and with customers.

House of Brands: A brand that has several sub-brands/products. Each sub-brand/product is branded separately, with little to no “connection” to another product owned by the same masterbrand.

Branded House: A brand that has several sub-brands/products. Each sub-brand/product leverages the masterbrand for all offerings, providing connection which strengthens the masterbrand.

Hybrid Brand ArchitectureA brand that has several sub-brands/products. Each sub-brand/product is branded using either the house of brands architecture or branded house architecture.

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