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Creating a Brand Architecture and a Brand Identity

This lesson is a part of an audio course Creating a Successful Brand by Drew Boyd

As you create new brands, you’ll start to run into a problem of how to manage them all. You need to create an overall structure of how the brands are organized. You do this by creating a brand architecture.

Think of architecture the same as you would when building a house. The architect decides how many rooms you’ll have, where they’re situated in the overall structure of the home, and the role of each room: bathroom, kitchen, and so on.

Here are your options when building a brand architecture.

First, you could create what’s called a House of Brands. Each brand stands on its own and has no relationship with the others. Consumers know the names of the brands, but they don’t know the name of the company that owns them.

The Procter and Gamble Company is probably the best example of this. It owns many familiar brands that we use every day, like Crest toothpaste, Tide laundry detergent, and Febreze. But most consumers won’t know that P&G owns these brands or that these brands are owned by the same company.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Branded House. In this approach, the company is the brand. All products and services within that company are associated with that single company brand, but they themselves don’t exist as a brand. BMW is a great example.

In between these two architectures is a third choice called a Blended House. Think of it as a mix of the two – a little bit of a master brand with a few individual brands connected to it. A good example is Marriott International, the hospitality company. It has a strong master brand, Marriott, along with many sub-brands like Courtyard and Residence Inn. When you combine these with the master brand, Courtyard by Marriott, consumers instantly understand that unique promise.

Which approach is best? The branded house approach is more cost-effective because you’re spending money to build one single brand. But this limits you where you can expand. A house of brands is expensive because you have to build each brand from scratch. But then you have total freedom to go into new markets without affecting the other brands. P&G, for example, can expand into just about anything. Many companies use the blended approach to give themselves the best of both worlds.

Building the brand architecture helps customers understand your brands the way you want them to. And that’s a real advantage when building a successful brand.

Creating a Brand Identity

Now that you have a brand promise, persona, and architecture, it’s time to give the brand identity. Think of identity as both a name and a visual look and feel for the brand. Let’s start with the name.

The name you select for your brand should do the following:

  • Reflect the values and purpose of the brand.
  • Create an association with the brand’s persona.
  • Be easy to say.
  • Be unique and memorable.

Many times, brand builders get carried away at this step, so be careful. Don’t confuse the customer with a name that doesn’t match what the brand delivers.

You also need to define the look and feel of the brand. That’s what consumers see when they encounter it. It’s like a visual identity system, a way for customers to instantly recognize when the brand is present.

To create the visual identity of the brand, you’ll need the following elements.

First, you’ll want some type of distinctive logo or symbol. Be sure to create different versions of it. While your master logo should always be rendered consistently, you need variations of it for different placements and usage. For example, you may need color and black and white variations, or you may need versions for small spaces like a business card, or a large version for the side of a building.

You also create a color palette for the brand and you select specific typefaces for the brand. A distinctive font helps strengthen the identity of the brand. Along with fonts, you should also have standard typographic treatments. Your typographic identity should include specific ways of handling key types of text such as headlines or how you write URL addresses.

Your brand identity should include a consistent style for images. All photos and images used with the brand logo should have a consistent look and feel.

Finally, you want to define a consistent tone for the way you say things. It’s like creating a voice for the brand. This applies to everything from headlines in a print ad, to the tone of a press release. Outline the specific language and words that can be used. For example, should the tone be formal, or more conversational? That depends, of course, on your brand’s persona.

To summarize, the brand’s identity means giving it a name, a logo, a color scheme, a visual style, and a tone of voice These elements must work together in harmony to create a winning brand identity.

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Written by

Drew Boyd