Brand Architecture: A Comprehensive Guide

31 October 2022

Brand Architecture plays a significant role in developing marketing strategies for specific product categories in a firm. It can become complicated when a company begins to grow and diversify its portfolio into a wide range of products and services. What your company offers can become more challenging to convey simply to your audiences.

Brand Architecture

As a result, your potential clients need clarification and look to other businesses that appear better suited to their needs. This is where brand strategy comes into play, clarifying your business so that your target audience understands, identifies with, and remembers your company and its offerings – and your brand architecture is one essential tool that helps you do so.  Find all the information you need to organize brands within your organization here!

What is a Brand Architecture?

The brand architecture of a company includes a company’s portfolio of brands, sub-brands, products, and services. In simple terms, brand architecture is a structure that can apply to your brand to rejuvenate weak or dormant brands and launch new ones. An integrated system of names, symbols, colors, and visual vocabulary informed directly by the consumer’s thought process constitutes effective brand architecture.

An established brand architecture serves as a valuable guide for brand extensions, sub-brands, and the development of new products. In addition to providing a map for brand identity development, it also reminds consumers of the brand’s value proposition for the entire family of brands. As a result, corporate and sub-brands can be fully leveraged to maximize brand value.

What is the significance of brand architecture?

Brand consistency can boost sales by 33%. Understanding, visualizing, and explaining your brand architecture can assist you in effectively managing your brand portfolio. In addition, documenting your company’s brand architecture can help you tell a more compelling brand story from a marketing or business growth standpoint.

Here’s what a strong corporate brand architecture can do for your business:

  1. Consistent (and distinct) brand positioning

A well-defined and consistent brand portfolio assists customers in identifying your parent and sub-brands.

  1. Lowering marketing costs

Consistent brand architecture and a clearly defined master brand create clarity within the organization. When everyone understands how each brand contributes to the overarching goal of the master brand, marketing teams will know where to allocate their financial resources to get the best return on investment.

  1.  A foundation for future growth and expansion

Each of your brands can target a different audience segment, enabling your sub-brands to succeed. Additionally, audiences are more loyal to brands when they have a clear and cohesive parent brand to follow.

  1.  Enhanced trust among stakeholders and investors

Your stakeholders and investors will value your brand differentiation, understanding of brand properties, and knowledge of your brand’s audiences.

  1. More opportunities for cross-selling

A clear value proposition reveals the connections between your product offerings. This opens up numerous opportunities for cross-selling. A brand bundling campaign, for example, from Procter & Gamble, features multiple face products (think wash, cream, etc.), each with its branding. A well-defined brand architecture entails a diverse range of differentiated products and services that complement one another. Shampoo and toothpaste, for example, form a complete hygiene routine in the Procter & Gamble example without competing. 

  1. Tell an exciting brand story.

Every brand, product offering, or service has a unique story. However, putting them together without thought can create a narrative your customers may need help understanding. Let all these seemingly disparate stories speak to your audience deeper by combining them into one overarching story. Otherwise, your parent and sub-brands will compete and fail to connect with customers.

  1. Create brand equity

Brand equity is customers’ perceived value of your company’s brand, products, and services. It begins with master brand awareness and progresses to consistent messaging and themes across all your sub-brands on any platform you use. In addition, your social presence and customer service can help you build brand equity. Were you still trying to figure out where to begin? Consider how you manage your brand assets to be consistent, distinct, and well-organized.

  1.  Keep your brand consistent.

A consistent strategy requires a documented brand architecture, especially for ever-changing brands. With proper brand architecture, you can retain valuable knowledge and assets. Even if your team is currently on point, priorities can shift over time, and key employees may move into new positions or to other companies. Developing a single source of truth for your brand identity ensures that your messaging and brand presence remain consistent over time, regardless of changes in your internal teams.

Continue reading about various brand architecture models and examples of how top businesses have implemented a cohesive branding architecture strategy.

Brand mission: what is it and how it can drive business success

Brand architecture: what are its key components?

It is possible to gain insight into strategic alternatives from brand architecture examples. The brand hierarchy framework, brand architecture audit, and brand naming decision tree are all key components to managing brand architecture.

What are the 4 essential elements of brand architecture?

A brand’s architecture includes several components described below in order of importance and relationship.

  • The master brand

This is the primary brand for your company and is most likely the most recognizable to customers. It could be the original brand or a brand taken over by a parent company. It is usually visible as a logo on all products and services provided to customers, and it is typically the company’s name. Its sub-brands will most likely be able to cross-sell to their respective audiences.

An example: BMW is a master brand. BMW is the master brand for several sub-brands, including three, five, seven, and others.

  • Substitute brands

In the brand architecture, these brands sit beneath the master brand. They usually include the master brand’s name but will distinguish themselves with their full title. They typically have values in common with the master brand.

An example: A good example is Toyota Prius. Toyota, the master brand, has a sub-brand named Toyota Prius. In this case, it is also identified within the context of its parent company. 

  • The parent brand

This type of brand is at the top of the brand architecture hierarchy, but its sub-brands and products can be in different categories.

An example: Among the FMCG brands owned by Mondelez International Inc. (formerly Kraft Foods) are Cadbury Confectionery, Belvita Cookie Company, Trident Cough Drops, and Tang Powdered Drinks.

  • Umbrella brand

This overarching brand does not necessarily share its identity with the brands beneath it. However, it does share a product theme. This could imply that the brands beneath it are competing.

An example: Coca-Cola is an umbrella brand example. Sprite, Fanta, Schweppes, and other brands fall under the Coca-Cola umbrella. It also sells Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, and Diet Coke. The brands that fall under the umbrella brand are all related to beverages.

A Comprehensive Guide To Branding Strategy Workshops

What are the various models of brand architecture? 

Three categories of brand architecture exist brand houses; houses of brands; and endorsed brands. As well as the 4th – Hybrid Model, which combines either of the previous three.

  1. A branded house(Monolithic): Within a branded house, all the brands in the portfolio share values and a name with the master brand. This style implies that all brands within the house have a consistent look and feel, marketing messaging, and more. It’s also possible that the sub-brands don’t function independently.

An example: FedEx is an example of a branded house.FedEx, the parent company, operates several sub-brands. FedEx Express, FedEx Freight, and FedEx Ground are a few examples.

  1. Endorsed brands

In an endorsed brand architecture model, the parent or umbrella brand endorses other brands in the structure that fall beneath them. Their brand identity lends legitimacy and authority to the endorsed brands, frequently indicating that the other brands are of the same quality. As a result, all brands will likely be in the same industry but have distinct audiences, offerings, and identities. 

An example: The hotel chain Marriott Marriott provides various brands to suit multiple tastes and price points, including Residence Inn by Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott.

  1. A house of brands

A house of brands is a collection of brands that operate independently, are likely in different industries, and have different audiences, products, and identities. Unilever is one example of a brand house. 

An example: Unilever’s brand portfolio includes the personal care brand Dove, food company Ben & Jerry’s, and drinks brand Lipton.

How to Determine your current Brand Architecture?

Before making changes to your brand architecture, go over your brand’s mission, vision, values, and business objectives.

Next, examine your current product/service mix. As you examine each sub-brand, product, or service, consider the following:

  • How is this brand performing in relation to our master brand objectives?
  • What is the market’s opinion of this brand?
  • How closely aligned is that perception with the company’s core values, mission, and vision?
  • What is the company’s brand portfolio’s position in the market compared to this brand?

After you’ve answered the above questions, you’ll need to examine your brand portfolio closely.

 Be warned: this step may require you to make some difficult decisions. Your brand may need to merge, sell, or get rid of branches in order to strengthen its architecture. The master brand’s overall marketing strategy must take precedence over your brand variants.

How do you determine brand architecture?

  1. Research

Customer experience is at the heart of branding, so learn how your target audience interacts with your brands and what expectations they have of them. Then, ensure your overall strategy makes sense for your portfolio before implementing it. For example, consider Coca-Cola changing its logo and abandoning its signature red color. Customers may be confused and irritated if Coca-Cola takes the time to explain the changes.

  1. Strategy

To create your brand architecture, you’ll need the support of your internal team. When the entire team realizes how this process will help them work more efficiently, they may see its value. Developing a brand architecture will require stakeholders to calculate the ROI, which may take a while. Frequent analysis and reporting can assist you in understanding the impact of your brand architecture. 

Essential Factors to Consider in Brand Architecture

Brand architecture can be time-consuming, especially when multiple internal stakeholders must approve changes. The following are some things to think about.

  • Existing capital

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your current master brand. Some businesses may try to get feedback on branding, brand clarity, and brand recognition from focus groups or external agencies during this stage. Keep in mind that a sub-brand can “outgrow” the master brand. In this case, your sub-brand could be the key to establishing brand equity across your entire product line.

  • Company culture

Your company’s culture should influence your branding and vice versa. For example, if your culture is energetic, creative, and fun, your branding should reflect that.

Employees value the ability to provide feedback. Creating your brand architecture is an excellent way to do so. Hold a brainstorming session and invite employees to share words that best describe your company’s culture. You’ll learn some new things and gain a better understanding of how your brand should be represented.

  • Risk tolerance

Every business has a unique risk tolerance, which you should consider when developing your branding strategy.

For example, if a rebrand is poorly received, a large, global brand with a long history may suffer disastrous consequences. On the other hand, a small startup needs more brand equity to be overly concerned with branding because rebranding is simple in the early stages of business if it doesn’t work out the first time.

  • Rebranding costs

Of course, costs are frequently an impediment to change. For example, suppose you need to hire an outside agency to help you develop new logos, content, or slogans. In that case, you could quickly incur a large amount of money, especially during the approval and revision process, which can take months in some cases.

Consider investing in incremental changes that will have the most significant impact on cutting costs. Consider investing in small changes that will have the most significant impact on cost savings. For example, you might discover that you don’t need to overhaul your entire branding strategy. Rather, invest in a platform that will aid in the organization and management of your digital assets. This will yield immediate and positive results while not costing a fortune.

3 Steps to Develop a Brand Architecture Strategy

Which architectural brand is the best fit for your business? What is the purpose of a Brand Architecture? You may already have something in place, or you may be starting from scratch. In any case, you’ll need to evaluate each branch of your company.

  1.  Defining the potential of a brand in terms of its “market footprint”
  2. Identifying the product and service extensions that will allow the brand to achieve its potential
  3. Specifying the brand elements and positioning associated with the specific products and services for the brand.
  4.  Now, rank your features and benefits.

Giving Voice To The Voiceless: A Guide to Developing An Online Brand Identity


Think carefully about the emotional or functional benefits you decide to include in your brand architecture. If you need more clarification, test them with your team and your target market before investing a lot of resources in getting them across to the market.

The other elements of your brand strategy, such as your brand’s personality traits, means, promise, story, and visual and operational requirements, can be considered once you’ve chosen your brand architecture. If you found this interesting, have any questions, or would like to learn more, our Branding Agency in Dubai can help, please drop us a line at

Get Social:


Services We Offer

Our Clients' Speak

Whatsapp Us Whatsapp Us