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  • Writer's pictureBrian Creath

Brand Architecture Systems: Which One Is Right For Your Organization?

Updated: May 1

Developing the right brand architecture for your business model and organization is a critical step in the foundation of a successful marketing strategy. Here is an overview of just some of the many methods.

House Of Brands

In this architecture, a company creates an identity for each of its products and/or services. Take, for example General Motors, or Procter & Gamble and the many brands marketed individually by these entities. Among the advantages of this approach is the creation of a unique brand presence in different market niches: It permits great flexibility and freedom of action.

The disadvantages associated with a House of Brands strategy include a possible lack of synergy between brands. What’s more, excessive diversification can negatively influence the level of loyalty attained from customers and products. For example, in the case of General Motors, if I drive a Buick and I want to change cars, I may not necessarily ‘want’ to buy a Chevrolet. Because each brand requires its own, separate marketing effort, this architecture can also be more expensive than other strategies.

Branded House

This architecture approach houses a monolithic structure. It uses a single brand, which works as an umbrella for the different company products, or corporate services. Two well-known examples are Apple and Virgin. This is a great way to create consistency for existing products and services, as well as new launches. It also serves to simplify communications policies and centralize branding strategies.

One of the drawbacks of Branded House architecture is that it can diminish flexibility in adapting to changes in the market. What’s more, if the range of products/services is extensive, it can generate confusion among audiences, which can lead to a devaluation of overall brand equity. Sometimes, it may be better to identify with a specific area of activity.

Here are a few variations on the Branded House approach:

• SUB-BRAND SYSTEM: There is one corporate trademark and sub-brand trademarks. For example: Apple iPad.

• MASTER BRAND SYSTEM: There is only one trademark and then a descriptive name. For example: AT&T Device Protection & Control.

• ENDORSER BRAND SYSTEM: There are product brands linked together by an endorsing brand. For example: Oreo Cookies by Nabisco.

• ‘HYBRID-HOUSE’ BRAND SYSTEM: A myriad of variations on the above systems exist to accommodate specific situations.

And a few other architecture strategies...

Ingredient Brands

Popular brands that are well established and widely recognized have found additional marketing strength and success by hosting and partnering with ingredient brands. DELL computers have “Intel Inside®.” North Face jackets are made with Gore-Tex®. BISSELL vacuum cleaners are infused with Microban® antimicrobial protection. And Mohawk carpets feature Stain-master® protection. These examples of ingredient brands complement and strengthen the power of their host. Ingredient branding can deliver powerful results in the market and their influence continues to grow as more respected brands embrace ingredient brands.

Operational Brands

Here, an architecture can be developed where the primary driver is a way of thinking, operating, or doing business. This type of brand architecture attempts to drive a brand promise that can bridge an existing logical or emotional brand gap that exists with customers or other audiences. Sometimes, the brand name is integrated into a positioning line to create a singular impression.

Corporate Brands

Similar in concept to the Branded House approach, this strategy is most often associated with business-to-business brands that use this architecture to successfully drive not only branded products and services, but also philosophical and operational points of view.

The Architecture That’s Right For You

While no two organizations face the same challenges and opportunities, many face common brand architecture situations. In the end, each organization must translate its specific set of goals, objectives, vision, mission and culture into the architecture system that best drives purpose and revenue.

Since 1999, Cohesion has been building architecture platforms that save companies time and money. How? First, with a system in place, those who need to communicate the benefits of your business and brand will stop reinventing the wheel with each new discussion. The right answer is always right there. Because they’ll use it often, over time, your message will become more consistent, too. Best of all, your organization will be less inclined to waste time and money on ideas that simply don’t ‘fit’ with your direction.

Interested in building the brand and marketing architecture that’s right for your organization?

To learn more, please contact Brian Creath, managing principal, at, or at 314-276-5383.

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Cohesion is a strategic brand consultancy that helps organizations position, package and articulate the essence and direction of businesses, brands, solutions and issues. Since 1999, our work has created new value and revenue for more than 150 organizations, including Fortune 500 corporations, mid-market companies and innovative small businesses. To learn more, visit:

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