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Real-World Branding 101: Brand Architecture

January 29, 2015

Is Your House Built for the Real World?

One of the most common questions that I get from colleagues and peers is what being a “real world” branding agency really means.  “How are you different?” they ask.  Many traditional advertising agencies claim to do “branding” these days and it’s clear that the word and the topic have become blurred and confusing for many.

At Finch, we view branding as an expanse that covers every link in the chain from the heart and soul of a company’s vision and mission to the ultimate rational and emotional experience that a customer goes through when he or she engages with your product or service.

To ensure that every link in that chain is connected and unbroken requires equal parts battle-tested business strategy and creative spark.  Finch Brands connects these links through our history of hands-on experience running businesses, sophisticated in-house primary research capabilities that most agencies lack, and a creative team that begins with execution in mind, so that ideas are more than just beautiful art.

In a series of upcoming blog posts, we will cover various topics that highlight how real-world branding is more than just a creative exercise.  It is a set of strategic decisions, well executed, that drive the performance of your P&L.

Does Your Brand Have an Architect?

From our experience, Brand Architecture is one of the most overlooked tools for driving growth in a CEO’s toolkit.  At many companies, traditional marketing leadership roles revolve around focused demand generation, with little historical regard for managing the company’s brands as durable assets.  Similarly, the traditional ad agencies that most companies partner with are usually better equipped at creating beautiful pictures than they are at helping to manage how their client’s brands drive results that map to shifting business strategies.   The conversation begins and ends with a simple creative brief.

Does Your Structure Match Your Strategy?

At the simplest level, Brand Architecture is the blueprint for your house.  It is the organizing structure that clarifies roles and relationships within a portfolio of brands.   What many leaders don’t realize is just how important of a role the right Brand Architecture plays in the successful (or unsuccessful) implementation of your growth strategies.

Are you in a market where your success hinges on soaking up as much market share as possible in order to win?  Will you soon be entering new categories or acquiring new brands?  If so, a House of Brands or Endorsed Brand approach may be right for your business. In these approaches, brand equity is distributed smartly to create the best opportunity for creating connections with a large (and diverse) group of people. This may mean strong and distinctive product brands – for House of Brands, consider GM or Procter & Gamble, where the principal equity is at the product line level (Chevrolet or Tide). For an Endorsed Brand strategy, think about Marriott or Ralph Lauren, where product lines (Courtyard, Polo) draw strength from the master brand but possess distinctive positions and attributes they come to embody.

Are you the owner of a strong and well-known brand in a relatively mature market that demands maximum marketing efficiency to keep the P&L whole?  Is brand equity transfer and the speedy and successful introduction of close-in innovation critical to your business’s success?  If so, then a Branded House or Sub-Brand approach may be the best fit. Think about BMW, whose product lines are branded through letters and numbers and the clear objective is for all to reflect and support the master brand.

Within these decisions, what is the customer’s point of view?  Does your brand have permission to stretch in new directions or would doing so alienate your core customer? The right answer is situational and strategic.

Does Your House Need an Inspection?

As a real-world branding agency, Finch Brands exists to answer these questions and more, helping you to navigate and successfully execute against the high stakes decisions that keep customers, consumer, owners and investors happy.  Looking to learn more about how Finch Brands can help you optimize your Brand Architecture or help you answer other burning business questions?  Contact us and let’s talk about how we can partner to grow your business.

Brand Architecture

John Ferreira, Vice President of Brand Strategy

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