Jon Christoph Berndt®

Brand Architecture

Branded House, House of Brands, Endorsed, Sub?

Clear brand architecture supports a company with a comprehensible structure for the presentation of its products. We distinguish between a branded house, such as Apple or Virgin, and a house of brands, such as Proctor & Gamble or Mars. Brand architecture also has endorsed brands and sub-brands.

Brand architecture helps the company to structure its brands, and to consolidate and control their position in the market. A well placed and rigorously communicated brand architecture helps to present the brands in a way that promotes sales. A branded house has an umbrella brand strategy: all business sectors and products are subordinate to the umbrella brand logo and name. Apple does this with the iPod, iPad, and iPhone, while Virgin does the same with Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Books, and Virgin Galactic. A house of brands, on the other hand, has an individual or family brand strategy. Here, different products and product lines are positioned independently, and the manufacturer’s brand takes a back seat. This is how Proctor & Gamble works with the product families within its brand architecture—beauty (Braun, Olay, Head & Shoulders), health (Vick, Blend-a-Med, Oral-B), and household (Ariel, Mr. Clean, Lenor). Generally, these individual brands communicate by themselves. Mars, too, acts in a similar way with confectionary (Mars, Bounty, M & Ms), pet food (Cesar, Chappi, Kitekat), and gum (Big Red, Hubba Bubba, Orbit). Another success story is Beiersdorf, the house of brands with a brand architecture including product families such as Nivea, Elastoplast, and Tesa.

Advanced brand architecture also deals with sub-brands. Elements of the individual or family brand are transferred to the product brand: Nivea for Men from Nivea, or Punto and Brava as sub-brands of Fiat. An endorsed brand uses a celebrity to enhance the product’s image in terms of credibility, desirability, and trustworthiness, even though the celebrity may have no direct connection with the product. The cereals producer General Mills uses the eye-catching blue "G" on the packaging of Cheerios and Wheaties, and Henkel offers visible support to Persil with their logo on the package. Brand architecture—it’s as simple as that.