Branding Blog

Different Types of Brand Architectures

Companies might sell different products or offer different portfolio of services that need to be in some way structured – that’s why companies develop brand architectures.

Brand architecture definition:

Brand architecture refers to the hierarchy of brands within a single company and brings order.

At some point can come to conclusion that it’s not just one company – you make many different things that need special attention.

How do you organize your offerings, divisions or products?

That science, that architecture scenarios – that’s what we call brand architecture.

To put it simply:

Brand architecture is a system that organizes brands, products and services to help your audience access and relate to the brand.

It is the interrelationship of the parent company, subsidiary companies, products, and services within one organization.

Why do you need brand architecture?

It is important to bring consistency, visual and verbal order, or on the contrary – an intention to disparate elements to help a company grow and market more effectively to specific audiences.

Whatever your goal is, you should develop a brand strategy first, which will allow you to make meaningful decision on what type fo architecture should you go for.

The 3 Different Brand Architectures

We can distinguish three different ways to organize brands within a company.

Types of brand architecture:

  1. Monolithic
  2. Endorsed
  3. Pluralistic

Check this image that illustrates three different types of brand architecture:

Brand Architecture Types
Brand Architecture: Monolithic, Endorsed, Pluralistic.

Truth is, there’s a lot of different ways to architect a brand and most large companies that sell products and services have a mixture of strategies.

And in this article I will show you some brand architecture examples of well-known brand so you can get a sense of what can work for your business.

Without further ado, let’s discuss them consecutively:

Monolithic Brand Architecture

The first type – monolithic – is characterized by a strong, single master brand.

In this approach, customers make choices based on brand loyalty. Features and benefits matter less to the consumer than the brand promise and persona.

The main logo is usually used in different color variations with a subsidiary brand name.

Brand extensions use the parent’s identity, and generic descriptors.

FedEx is an example of monolithic brand architecture.

The program, designed by Landor Associates, uses color to emphasize sub-brands.

Monolithic Brand Architecture
Monolithic Brand Architecture example—Fedex Corporation

Endorsed Brand Architecture

The second type – endorsed – is characterized by marketing synergy between the product or division, and the parent.

The product or division has a clearly defined market presence, and benefits from the association, endorsement, and visibility of the parent.

Nestle is an example of endorsed brand architecture.

The program doesn’t use color to separate sub-brands (like FedEx), but rather rely on the visibility of the parent brand.

Endorsed Brand Architecture
Endorsed Brand Architecture example—Nestle

Pluralistic Brand Architecture

The third type – pluralistic – is characterized by a series of well-known consumer brands.

The name of the parent may be either invisible or inconsequential to the consumer, and known only to the investment community.

Many parent companies develop a system for corporate endorsement that is tertiary.

Procter & Gamble is an example of pluralistic brand architecture.

The program doesn’t rely on master brand at all, but instead each sub-brand has it’s own image:

Pluralistic Brand Architecture
Pluralistic Brand Architecture example—Procter & Gamble

These three types are the most common, and they each have different strengths and weaknesses.

How to decide which architecture type is for me?

Deciding the right structure for your brand takes an extensive amount of research, and an in-depth understanding of your position, offerings, strategy.

Who Needs Brand Architecture

The need for brand architecture is not limited to Fortune 100 companies or for-profit companies.

Any company or institution that is growing needs to evaluate which brand architecture strategy will support future growth.

How many products and services are you going to offer?

They might be related to one another in some way or not related – separated. BMW owns Mini, but they’re separated. On the other hand BMW got its series: 3-series, 5-series, 7-series etc.

They try to make it as easy as possible for you to understand what model is right for you.

But that framing of products and services does not apply only to big companies – any company may need brand architecture – depending of course on what is your portfolio.

Brand Architecture Benefits

You might be thinking:

My brand is too small to benefit from brand architecture.

But an architecture of brands isn’t just for multinational corporations. Even small brands can see measurable improvements in performance by better organizing their offerings.

7 Benefits of having a brand architecture:

  1. Ensures the smooth running of an organization
  2. Allows to target the needs of specific customers.
  3. Balance between the main brand and its sub brands.
  4. Allows flexibility for new products and services.
  5. Ensures clarity and synergy between brands, products, and services.
  6. Maximize visibility in competitive marketplace.
  7. Makes it possible to protect brand equity.


Remember that the idea isn’t just to come up with clever names for your various products (like Apple) or use color to differentiate them (like FedEx), but it’s to create clarity from chaos.

And the way to find out what would work best for your business is to conduct meticulous research and decide on how to leverage each of your brand divisions to benefit the whole company.

So how do you put this in action?

First, you need to decide how closely you want to associate your divisions to your parent brand.

Second, make sure every product or service that needs a brand gets a brand.

Third, prioritize clarity in the connections across your brands, divisions, products, or services.

Finally, pay close attention to the details of your brand identity system: naming structure, colors, typography, and symbol placement should all align with your overarching brand strategy.

If you some more information about how to start your brand architecture process, check this PDF.

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