Rise of the meta-monolithic brand

Once thought a dying species, the mono-brand is being reinvented by users who version their own idea of the brand to meet their own belief systems, writes James Withey

The most authoritative definition of 'brand architecture', by the author David Aaker, is that it “organises and structures the brand portfolio by specifying brand roles and the nature of relationships between brands”.

A monolithic brand architecture is a system in which only one brand is specified, to cover all products or services offered, and to cater for all audiences. In truth, few brand architecture systems are entirely monolithic, but only in so far as the exceptions prove the rule.

A monolithic brand architecture system was, for much of the nineties and the noughties, the most likely outcome of a brand architecture review. To build strong brands, optimise marketing investment and maximise global reach, the answer was, most of the time, mostly monolithic. Even when local understanding and relevance was recognised as mattering a lot, the response was to create a 'glocal' strategy of ubiquitous understanding, accompanied by a monolithic face to market – HSBC being the classic example. Global was good, monolithic the mainstay of brand architecture.