6 Layers to Defining Your Brand Architecture

March 14, 2016

Solid brand architecture articulates and defines the varying layers within your brand and provides a hierarchy that explains the relationships between the different products, services, and components that make up your company’s portfolio.  This architecture should provide your customers an easy to understand explanation (a road map if you will) of the value and relationship between or within your company’s suite of offerings.

Brand architecture is not synonymous with brand strategy, your brand systems (logo, slogans, tag-lines and visual imagery) or your brand marketing plan. It is a higher-level plan of your brand ecosystem, so you can determine how to best build and scale your brand over time.

Brand Promise: A simple expression of the brand benefit based upon a customer’s expressed or latent need. Said another way, the experience is the brand. Therefore, what experience does your brand or company promise to the customer at every touch point?  A brand promise is what the company delivers to the people who interact with it. It’s not a description of what a company does in a literal sense, but the holistic experience by the customer that has been committed by the company providing the promise. It’s a description of the company’s character. To some extent, it’s a mission; it’s how the company creates and delivers value.

Brand Positioning: A single-minded sentence that defines the idea the brand wants to own in the customers’ and employees’ minds. What does the brand do for people? How is it different from other brands and/or competitors in the category?

Brand Personality Traits: The character of the brand, how it acts in every situation. Another way to define these is to personify your brand. If your brand were a person at a cocktail party, how might he act or behave?

Reasons To Believe (RTBs): These are the functional benefits of the brand that often are focused on features or attributes of the product. Functional benefits aid in helping the consumer recognize a difference in the category—why they should believe in you instead of a competitor.

Reasons To Care (RTCs): These are the emotional benefits of the functional benefits discussed in point number four. With consumers often entering the purchase path first based on emotions, it is important to know why consumers should care about you. There are often intrinsic and extrinsic benefits—“intrinsic” being how we feel inside and “extrinsic” being how we are perceived on the outside.

Brand Values: The principles the brand holds as paramount.

A well-implemented brand communicates clearly who you are, what you do or sell, why you do it, and why people should care. The architecture of the brand is a necessary foundation to building a brand that is cohesive and resonates with its targeted audience. If you have this framework, you can build on it accordingly.

Coming up with a vetted brand architecture includes consideration of all of these and more. The brand promise is important because your audience needs to believe in you and your mission for how you plan to change the world. You’ll need to determine how you will position yourself and your brand against the competition and figure out how “specifically” you are different than and better than them—and whether or not you need a tagline to make messaging clearer. You’ll also need to think of your brand’s tone of voice and word usage, what the brand’s shtick is, and what it will be known for.

Having a brand architecture defined and built will get you well on your way to sales without having to be “salesy.” Brand awareness suffers without a quality brand architecture. In my experience, when a new brand is created, there’s not much consideration for the greater whole until it’s too late.