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BRANDINGS PERFECT 10 – UNIQUE BRAND ARCHITECTURE

Bm - Daniela Maestres - 4th november 2021

A group of us "brand builders" have been assigned the arduous task of unpacking the concept of perfection with respect to different aspects of branding. I think it's safe to assume that some of my peers will also start by pointing out that the notion of perfection can be a double-edged sword in any field of life. I don't think anyone will find the idea that I just introduced innovative. Most of us know that striving for imperfection is prone to disappointment and can even cause us to overlook and underestimate great results.

 

However, there is also a different side to the concept. If the desire for perfection is maintained in a healthy way (which is relatively rare), it becomes the driving force that allows us to expand our thinking. A significant number of humanity's achievements have been accomplished by the inspired minds of this type of poised perfectionist. But this can only happen if someone has really made peace with failure and can let go of the attachment of an unbalanced perfectionist, one who obsessively tries to improve things beyond measure. Only when the concept is approached with equanimity can we acquire the necessary flexibility for creative thinking, which leads to a more grounded and authentic pursuit of excellence.

 

Perfection and brand architecture

Brand architecture (BA) exists for a good reason. For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a structure or system that allows companies to organize and prioritize subsections of their core brand. Any company you can think of that has different product lines or different branded services is knowingly or inadvertently implementing some form of BA.

 

Some good examples of companies with impressive and robust brand architectures are Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company, and Starbucks. They all have a portfolio of branded products organized following a carefully crafted structure. The benefits of a consciously implemented BA go far beyond order and clarity. A robust architecture can introduce cross-selling strategies, help boost underperforming items by attaching them to stronger brands, and even create bonds between members of the organization.

 

Regardless of whether a business sells educational courses, natural supplements, or condiments, brand architecture can help bring order, clarity, and impact to your offering. Creating a system that includes unifying visual and contextual elements like names, symbols, and colors can help create more memorable deliverables. Even when there are only a handful of products in the portfolio, BA can improve the way they are approached, marketed, and communicated.

 

Infinite opportunities

There are only a few types of mainstream brand architecture, each cleverly designed to suit companies with different needs: the brand house, the endorsed brand, the sub-brand, and the brand house. These "types" are described as the reference models, which might lead someone to assume that there are no alternatives, and these four variations are the only way to implement BA. The implicit risk in widely accepted frameworks is that they tend to limit our thinking. We must realize that brand architecture is nothing more than a principle that can be tailored to specific personalized needs.

 

"A robust architecture can introduce cross-selling strategies, help drive underperforming items by attaching them to stronger brands, and even create bonds between members of the organization."

Generally speaking, it also makes a lot of sense that people tend to adhere to the standard so often. A concept that has been tested and verified tends to make us feel more confident and bolder, especially when those who have tried it first are successful corporations. It is also much easier to use a model someone else has come up with than to develop a new one. But it is important to realize that these preconceived options, as efficient as they are, are but examples of how a powerful principle can be implemented.

If everyone saw it this way, the future of brand architecture would be full of unique models. In recent years, we have started to see how forward-thinking companies and brands are already executing more unorthodox and creative architectures. A good example is Facebook with its (controversial) acquisition of Whatsapp, Instagram and various other digital platforms and services. Although the brands were not necessarily organized following traditional models, it is clear that the platforms have been strategically integrated to benefit from the characteristics and trajectories of each one.

 

Perfection is to the eyes of the beholder

The perfect brand architecture is one that fully fits into a unique business plan. Established models do not tend to consider the nuances of specific circumstances. The real breakthrough lies in going beyond the limitations of these off-the-shelf solutions and realizing that, in most cases, the "perfect" brand architecture must be custom built. Because it must be tailored to the specific needs of a business, it has to be envisioned by an "architect" with a deep understanding of the business it will serve. It might initially seem hard to imagine, as the fear of leaving models behind might still be present. But once overcome, the vision will expand to the point where truly unique architecture can crystallize; one that creates clarity, strengthens company identity, inspires new offerings, and brings exponential growth.

 

Image cobert: Rostislav Uzunov

 

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