Growing and scaling through brand architecture
Complexity is part of any organism that needs to grow. Systems that have their individual functions interconnect to work in an organized way and allow life to take its course, a reality of nature's wisdom that we can apply to organizations: once they reach a certain stage, they need order to be effective. The same is true for businesses and, closely linked to the aforementioned, for brands.
We are talking today about the importance of generating a system that provides order and effectiveness to the different parts that make up our brands. In this way, we will be able to organize a structure that allows us to scale and grow in a practically organic way.
Let's explore the world of brand architecture, a lever of growth for digital businesses. And we start by understanding the concept.
Brand architecture is a functional tool—it can take the shape of a diagram in Figma, for instance—that depicts the system of roles and relationships existing between the elements of our brand.
It is crucial to project, design and guide the growth of a brand and its business, but it is not only necessary when we talk about large corporations that have several brands within them. Do you have a digital school? Is your business a service business? Are you looking to quickly test different value propositions in the market? Although the first thing that comes to mind when talking about architecture is the system between brands, it is also very useful and necessary to help us organize our services or products.
The ideal model for growth
The most standard version of brand architecture speaks of three main models of structures (branded house, endorsed brands or house of independent brands) and all can be valid for growth.
In this case, the tough decision is to choose which one will catalyze the growth of your brand. In fact, today, the heterogeneity of business models and market realities in the digital sector means that these classic patterns serve as a starting point to help us understand the possibilities that exist. But the architecture of digital brands requires ad hoc structures. A hybrid result between all of the above.
These models must ensure the robustness and flexibility of the system. Although it may sound like a utopia, the reality of the market requires us to be increasingly precise in our investments and movements, but also more agile in our adaptations. Thus, we must define the structure that can help us consolidate and capitalize on everything we invest in it, either through synergies or reputation. This minimizes the risks of false steps due to loss of engagement or trust from our audiences.
Is your brand constrained?
A common situation after a phase of organic growth is to identify that product-brands, service-brands or people-brands face limits or barriers to their growth potential. And this is logical: they were born in a very particular context, often in response to a specific situation. For example, starting a brand with the name of one of the products and finding that this prevents diversifying its offer. Or launching a brand with the name of the founder and discovering that this is against the scalability of the project.
Rebranding and/or rethinking the brand architecture are usually good solutions in these cases, as long as they are approached from the perspective of making strategic decisions, many of which are invisible to audiences.
Decisions for consistency
One of the key elements for the success and consistency of a brand is that it is capable of developing its actions and messages generating a congruent discourse and, therefore, offering trust, improving its reputation, and positioning…
For this reason, it matters what you leave inside the brand, as well as what you leave outside. Brand architecture helps to make those decisions. And it is also helpful to see if what we left out makes sense to shape another brand and how that brand will relate to the first one. Here, the goal of brand architecture is to reduce the noise, to make it easier for the messages that matter to reach us in a clear way.
Mi Tienda de Arte is an example of this strategic order exercise. A brand that was born in León (Spain), with a small Fine Arts store, and grew to a turnover of 25 million euros per year. They were already in full international expansion with the twin brand Craftelier, and realized that there was something—that they were not able to identify—slowing down their growth.
After a study of their brand architecture and their audiences, we discovered that international development did not mean changing the brand name according to the country where it was sold, but rather being more radical in seeking a match with the audiences they were reaching and creating other niche brands that were also radical. That decision led to the rebranding of Mi Tienda de Arte to be Craftelier in all markets and the creation of Hartem, which specializes in Fine Arts.
Greater impact, less effort
Another key to brand architecture is to capitalize on the synergies that allow for a simpler day-to-day life. This means avoiding duplication, taking advantage of already fertile ground and adding reputation as brands.
This frequently means that, when working with different brands for different services, they often choose a brand endorsement option, or less obvious lines of business for the user, so that the reputation of a service and the trust it generates can improve cross-selling, as happened in the case of Cuerva.
Sometimes, in order to achieve a great return, strategic thinking is important. This means that to put it into action, a few brushstrokes are all that is needed. It happened to us at DevExpert, when we helped them organize their products and trainings into different groups—with their own last name—depending on the level of engagement required from the participant.
Thinking from the business side
In digital, things move very fast. Launch, test, iterate, launch again. And this is where another of the great advantages of brand architecture comes into play: the systematization process. Having zero doubts about what the brands we launch should look like—they will all have the parent brand name in front of them, for example—will reduce times and headaches. Creating a Minimum Viable Brand will be much simpler.
In cases of purchases or acquisitions of brands by corporate groups, the architecture will also be fundamental in deciding what relationship exists and what these two brands share. This is especially important if part of what the group has acquired is the brand equity of the acquired company. Without a clear relationship, the hard-earned brand equity can be lost in a few months.
Order makes complexity easy
If you are now thinking... "Well, but how do we do this? At Soluble, we approach architecture exercises based on a reliable and as little biased as possible knowledge of the internal and external reality. The brand strategy must be fine-tuned and updated, both representing the brand's strengths and understanding its business goals.
This, together with the perspective provided by the audiences and the market in which the brand operates, will give us the pieces we need to make the decisions that will shape our brand architecture system.