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What is Brand Architecture?

Aspirations of growth, financial success, and market influence fuel business. To help our clients reach these goals, we create brand strategies, design strong visual identities, and help them redefine who they are and how they hope to create this vital growth. However, to make these approaches effective, a client must first understand one vital thing about their brand: what is the underlying structure of their company? Understanding this will not only simplify your approach to your future in business, but it will help you create lasting relationships with your audience.

Brand architecture defines this underlying structure. Consider your parent company, to divisions, products, or services. Organising these aspects of your business into relative positions will ultimately make your business easier to run. Here is a breakdown of the three key types of brand architecture.


Monolithic brand architecture is a single business identity, in that the company has one brand name and visual identity throughout. This approach may be ideal if you’re well established in a mature market, and your goals are geared towards maximising brand equity.


If your parent company is a known brand, you might lend that brand to each product group to bolster its market reach. Google utilises this approach with the addition of new products, eg, Google Docs, Google Drive. Structuring endorsed brand architecture is ideal for the organisation that owns a number of brands. Each product will be served well by being associated with the parent company’s brand name. This approach can be more difficult to execute, however, it is very valuable when looking to leverage the credibility of the parent company.


Within freestanding brand architecture, each brand appears to be unrelated to others within the organisation. This is a great approach if the product or service in question stands on its own merits and is well known, with or without the parent company moniker in play (think Dove by Unilever). This approach makes sense if your main growth strategy is to increase market share. Not only this, but this approach will help you reach a large, diverse target audience.

Understanding your own market strengths will help you to determine how you need to approach your brand architecture. You know very well where your successes have sprung from, so use that success as leverage to nurture new, exciting additions to your business. You can also use this approach to reinvigorate lower impact brands in your portfolio.

As brand architecture helps to unite stakeholders and expand your market share, it also helps to identify relevant brand positioning, messaging, and tone of voice. Furthermore, you will increase customer loyalty through identification and alignment, and uncover new, relevant audience groups. Understanding your brand architecture will help you create unique and relevant brand experiences for the various sub-brands in your company.