Creating clarity or organizing chaos?
By Alan Brew
Companies get complicated as they grow. Logos and
brand names proliferate as marketers develop new
products and services.
Companies are acquired. Along with these acquisitions come more products and more
brands and names. No one is sure how effective these brands are, which ones should be
supported, or when or how to brand a new product. So the proliferation continues, weak
brands continue to soak up marketing dollars at the expense of stronger brands and the
corporate brand, unloved and uncertain of its role, is marginalized to an appearance on the
annual report or the CEO’s business card.
How does a company get to grips with this kind of debilitating and expensive complexity?
The trigger can often be a CEO’s frustration with constantly explaining who his company is
and what it does, often accompanied by a growing suspicion that his ballooning marketing
budget is not being used effectively to drives sales and growth. A branding agency is called
in and they recommend a brand architecture program. So far, so good. But this is the point
where a company has to be really sure about what the problem is and what it wants to
The problem with brand architecture is that it’s such a fuzzy term. There are many
definitions and most at least seem coalesce around the Wikipedia version which asserts:
“Brand architecture is the structure of brands within an organizational entity”. Beyond this
point it is hard to get specificity on the subject, which unfortunately leaves it wide open to
It has been said that the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the
necessary may speak. If there is any really useable and useful definition of brand
architecture and its value to a business it would be this statement. Simplicity is at the heart
of brand architecture. But all too often it becomes nothing more than an elaborate exercise
in organized complexity, a neat