Brand definition
+ architecture

Let’s get to know the heart, the brain, and the bones of your brand.

If brand strategy isn’t your regular thing, you might think the terms “brand definition” and “brand architecture” sound a bit…ummm…academic? Or abstract? 

Granted, these are not bottom-line-oriented concepts. But then again, your bottom line is not what brand strategy is all about.

Brand strategy is about staking out territory. You need to claim some very specific turf in the minds of the people that matter most to you, whether they're your partners, customers, clients, donors, or employees.

You cant begin to claim that turf until you know your brand intimately and definitively.

What’s a Brand definition?

Let’s start with what it’s not. You can’t simply define your brand as “the best”—or for that matter, as any superlative. That’s simply a vague claim, hard to substantiate and completely relative and subjective.

As implied by the word “definition,” we want to describe your brand in as much detail as possible, preferably not in comparison to other brands.

We use a variety of tools to define your brand along different dimensions. The most common tools include:

  • Brand perception;
  • Brand space;
  • Brand vibe;
  • Brand point of view (aka belief);
  • Brand purpose; and
  • Brand essence.

These tools force us to come to terms with the true nature of your brand—not only what differentiates it, but why anyone should care about your brand. By the end of these exercises, we should all concur on exactly why your brand exists.

Put another way, why does your brand deserve the attention of prospective fans or the loyalty of existing stakeholders?

What’s Brand architecture?

No matter the size of your organization or the complexity of your offerings, you have a brand architecture, whether you recognize it or not.

The simplest brand architecture, of course, is the small company model: a single brand name associated with a single product or service. Chances are that is not your situation.

If you’ve added products and services over the years, or have participated in mergers or acquisitions, it’s likely that you have something of a jumble on your hands. Maybe your organization now has divisions and silos, or an array of offerings with very diverse names, possibly without any clear relationship to each other or to your parent brand.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with growth or complexity, but there can be many drawbacks to a brand architecture that has evolved primarily through happenstance. Picture a house with many room additions, each added by a different builder at a different time. Unless the homeowner has been very careful along the way, the house will have probably lost any unifying character.

What are the risks? You may be confusing partners, consumers, or supporters with a jumble of names or a needlessly complex hierarchy. You may find that some of your sub-brands are becoming more autonomous and difficult to manage—gaining their own loyal followings or developing brand equity that doesn't benefit the parent brand.

Mature and growing organizations should periodically review their brand architecture to make sure their house is in good order, makes good sense to others, and reflects well on the owner.

Depending on the problems we identify together, we may recommend some combination of streamlining, reorganization, renaming, or a revision to your corporate identity system and visual standards.