In 2015, Google went through restructuring and a new corporate brand, Alphabet Inc. was created. Many divisions that operate in businesses other than Internet services became subsidiaries of Alphabet. In 2007, Apple Computer, Inc. dropped ‘Computer’ from its name and became Apple Inc., because the company had shifted its emphasis from computers to consumer electronics with brands like iPod, Apple TV and iPhone.
These examples show that when companies grow, they enter into new industries, and add new brands and new products to their portfolios. To maximise its growth and minimise its management challenges, a company has to add an optimal number of brands and products in its portfolio. Also, these new brands and products have to be related to the company and at the same time, have to be distinguished from each other. A company’s brand architecture lays the foundation of organising brands in a company’s portfolio.
Let’s have a look at different ways along with examples of how companies architect their brand portfolio:
- Different products, separate brand names: A company can distinguish its products from one another by different brand names. Sometimes, for every new product, a new brand is launched. Different brands are positioned for different market segments, with different needs and expectations. Often, customers don’t know the name of the company behind the brand and the failure or success of one brand doesn’t affect perception of other brands from the same company. For example, P&G has Ariel and Tide detergents, Pampers for baby diapers, Whisper for sanitary pads, Oral-B for toothbrushes, etc.
- New brand name for a new business line: A company can give a new brand name to a new line of business, with complimentary products around a concept. For example, ITC’s brand Classmate started as a notebook brand, and has evolved as a stationery brand with products including pens, pencils, geometry boxes, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, crayons, etc.
- Same brand name for a range of heterogenous products: A company can combine a range of heterogenous products in the same area through a single concept and promote them under a single brand name. For example, Paper Boat provides a range of Indian-inspired drinks such as thandai, chilli guava, aam panna and others.
- Same brand name as an umbrella brand in different markets: A company can capitalise on a single brand name that supports different products in different markets. Here, along with the umbrella brand name, generic names of products are used for identification. For example, in case of Google Search, Google is an umbrella brand and Search is the product name. Other similar examples could be Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Analytics, Google Pay, etc.
- Create 'child brands': A company can attach product brands with company’s brand name like a parent and child relationships. Child brands cater to specific market segments and modify the identity of parent brand. For example, in case of Apple iPod, Apple is a parent brand and iPod is a child brand.
- Endorse different product brands with different images: A company can create different product brands with different images and can endorse them through corporate brands. This takes care of the perception of quality and the product brand can take care of other aspects in its communication. For example, in case of Courtyard by Marriott, Courtyard is a product brand and Marriott is an endorsing brand. Another similar example could be Vivanta by Taj.
As a company extends its vision and diversify into new businesses or launch new products, it has to focus on creating a brand architecture. When a brand and its sub-brands are architected in a logical way, a company's marketing efforts become more efficient. Efficient marketing efforts strengthen the business objectives and help in achieving growth. The key is to find a strategy or mix of strategies for creating brand architecture that fits best for a company’s goals.
The writer is author of the book 'Booming Brands'. Views expressed are personal and don't necessarily represent any company's opinions.