Brand Architecture Guidelines

Brand Architecture Guidelines

Customers buy brands, not companies.

Brand names should almost always take priority over company names. When people discuss purchases, they seldom repeat the company name. They are more inclined to use the product’s brand name. Ever heard anyone say, “I just bought a brand new General Motors Cadillac STS”? Building strong product brands is especially critical in a competitive market where the product’s features are narrowly defined, and targeted to a narrow psychographic.

A company name is just a company name, unless the company name is being used as a brand. The company manufactures, develops and owns the product. It is not the product itself. For example, Adobe, Inc. is not Acrobat. Adobe, Inc. develops many software packages, one of which happens to be Acrobat.

If it is not critical for the product to imprint as its own brand, focus on branding the company as opposed to the product. Let these rules guide you when building a family of brands…

Sibling portfolios should revolve around a common product area.

Devise unique—not similar—brand names and brand messages. Distinguish siblings by a single attribute, such as usage or experience level of your target market. For example: beginner, intermediate, advanced or industrial, professional, personal use. Lay down the law about sibling rivalry. Maintain strict distinctions between sibling brands. If you are segmenting by price, do not let the price levels bleed into each other. If you’re segmenting by experience level, do not let beginner products slide toward advanced products. Don’t create a new sibling unless you can not create a new category. For example, do not simply create a sibling brand because your competitor has a product in that niche. Instead, create a new niche.

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