Keys to Effective Brand Architecture Development

A brand is like a living, breathing organism. Like a human, its capabilities, voice, and overall personality will grow and become more mature and diverse with time, even if the name is the same and the face (or logo for a brand) remains recognizable. 

As a little girl grows into an adult with a job and children, her life starts to break into different segments. Within each segment, she must approach life differently. When she is at home speaking to her children she does not speak to them in the same manner she speaks to her co-workers. Who she is as a mother will be distinct from who she is as a professional.

Through a “brand architecture,” an organization gains the ability to do this too. Creating diversity within an individual brand gives your company the ability to reach different customer bases, sell multiple product types, or participate in multiple industries, without diluting your main brand.

Using brand architecture can be a powerful tool for a brand, but choosing the right structure and the right design execution is key to a successful brand architecture. So what options do brands have, and how has Marstudio taken advantage of this tool in the past?

Brand Architecture Type 1: Umbrella Brand Architecture

The umbrella brand architecture is a very common brand architectural structure. Companies such as FedEx use the same icon throughout, modifying the colors, and usually adding a descriptor to describe the purpose of the color change.

The key to this branding techniques is color. Stay within a consistent color palette so even with assorted colors, all of the sub-brands still work well together visually. We took advantage of this architecture for our client NYX Entertainment & Events. Having to serve different client needs across their Wedding, Social, and Corporate events, they needed to have visual brand distinctions to make it easy for customers to find the services they need and consistently market across these silos.

Brand Architecture Type 2: Endorsed/Product Brand Architecture

The “endorsed” or “product” brand is an architecture people often come across but may not recognize due to the nature of this architecture. These architectures often have sub-brands that have different names and logos but are supported by the main or corporate brand.

It is often used in product companies that either have a spread within the industry, like Kellogg, or across industries, like P&G or Unilever. With this architecture, quality of execution and consistent visual aesthetics are key.

For our client Wholesalers USA, we used a product brand architecture for two of their divisions, Gemnique and Celestial Fire Glass. For Marstudio and our client Oasis Catering, we took advantage of endorsed branding for each company division. Using similar aesthetic execution, colors, and even logos, we were able to create brands that can live on their own, but also have the association and strength of their parent brand within the logo or the marketing collateral.

Brand Architecture Type 3: Monolithic Brand Architecture

The monolithic brand architecture is a more simplified and heavily visuals-based brand architecture. Using the logo icon and font as the connecting piece, this approach unites brands visually, usually with all other factors being different.

For our client Genesis Health Care, we took this approach because of their unique circumstances. They have offices all over the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. Using Genesis’ main logo for each location, we combined them all under the Genesis brand for ease of marketing and understanding for the customer.

Brand Architecture Type 4: Dual Branding

Dual branding is a unique and not a commonly discussed brand architecture because it entails two brands working in parallel for one company. Due to differing services and customer bases, they must approach branding as two separate entities.

In this area, a popular example is Cava and Cava Mezze. Both overall have the same name, and similar offerings food-wise, but their approach to how they serve their food (sit down vs. fast casual) would confuse customers. Dual branding was their best option.

This architecture was also the perfect option for our client A&S. Their two divisions, Home and Commercial, both provide stone and tile offerings, but to two different customers, using two different sales methods. A&S Home also provides some other home design services and products. By executing two different logos that worked seamlessly together visually, but still had clear distinctions, we were able to associate the two brands without creating confusion online, within the company, and overall.

It takes a focused and involved effort to develop a clear and concise brand. The amount of research, knowledge, and understanding required is why companies often invest millions of dollars into the branding and rebranding of even just one logo.

With the addition of brand architectures, it adds another level to branding (no pun intended). It is essential that you choose the right architecture for your branding and use the correct design and visual elements to execute them. If you are considering rebranding or creating an architecture for your brand, Marstudio is experienced in creating brand architectures and would be more than happy to assist you in this process.

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