Are You Clear on the Brand Architecture of Your Business?
Organizing a company’s brand architecture gives me the same satisfying feeling I get from organizing my own closet. And here’s why. A cluttered space can lead to a cluttered mind. And the same holds true for an organization’s brand architecture.
A well-organized, well-curated brand architecture can create clarity, remove friction in the customer experience, and lead to a smarter use of company resources. I’m going to share with you a few lessons I’ve learned along the way and leave you with three tips as you go forward in re-evaluating your own brand architecture.
Before we get started, lets align on some shared vocabulary on what brand architecture is and what it is not. Brand architecture is not your org chart. It is not how you behave as business units or departments or even manufacturing facilities.
Brand architecture is how the outside world, how the marketplace, experiences your brand portfolio, your brands, your products and your technology solutions that are meant to be unifying threads across the portfolio.
So going back to the closet analogy for just a second, think about the last time you organized your own closet. You probably encountered that there were some things that just didn’t fit super well anymore. You probably found some articles that were worn and unloved and probably some pieces that just didn’t go together anymore.
And that happens to organizations and their brand architecture as well, especially for organizations that have grown through acquisition or have solved with one-off scenarios to appease a specific customer group or instance.
And what we find in those occasions is that the organization says to us, “we don’t even understand how our portfolio goes together.” “We don’t know what words to use to describe how everything is organized.” And if you’re experiencing that in your organization, that you can’t explain that, chances are good that you’re consumer doesn’t understand it either.
And as we think about organizing our closet, the experts will tell you, when you bring one item in, send one item out. Well, that’s not really practical when it comes to brand architecture.
However, you do need a bit of a system to evaluate when to acquire a new brand into your architecture, when to absorb it into an existing brand, and when to divest or clean it out. So, let me leave you with three tips as you go forward in your own organization.
The first is: Step fully into this idea of discipline. Discipline to set rules around your brand architecture, for how you will protect the portfolio, how you will manage the portfolio. Sometimes organizations say, “I don’t want to have too many rules or frameworks because we have an entrepreneurial spirit and we like to solve creatively.”
I promise you having some guardrails will actually give you the freedom of less chaos, of less one-off solutions, and having to imagine how to do use cases that don’t apply to the standard rules.
Secondly, and this is a fun one: Imagine you’re building your organization from the ground up today. How would you design your brand architecture if you had a blank slate? Now, we know that’s not really practical and you’re not going to have quite that freedom. But I promise you, thinking in that way will lead to some breakthroughs.
And then thirdly and lastly: Give yourself some grace. Have some patience. This is a hard exercise. Managing your brand architecture well is usually not a perfect exercise. You’re going to have to make some tradeoffs. That’s just how it is. Do the best you can. And my advice to you is each time your organization goes through growth or transformation, reevaluate, revisit it each time.
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