The first Admap in its new format, as an online report on WARC, is dedicated to one of the most challenging aspects of marketing management: Brand architecture.

Parent, master, umbrella, sister or endorser? House of brands, branded house or hybridisation? Extend, stretch, variant or sub? From the “Spandex rule” to “negative halos” - brand architecture is confusing.

Fortunately, Admap presents six papers from thought leaders in the UK, US and Asia who share their knowledge and expertise on this challenging topic.

In our anchor piece, Kevin Lane Keller, Professor of Marketing, Tuck School of Business, points out brand architecture should reflect today’s hyper-competitive digital environment and outlines three key steps to developing effective architecture strategy.

While each paper offers a different perspective we found several overarching themes.

  1. Ecosystems: There’s a shift from traditional, hierarchical models to a model that is more fluid, flexible and adaptable
  2. Streamlining: A shift from lots of average brands to fewer, stronger brands. While extension strategies have their place, sometimes brand deletion, divestment or migration is the best approach
  3. Hybridisation: A new approach is emerging in Asia where brands are taking a more hybrid approach, enabling a more flexible way to build brands. This is a notable shift from the usual branded house or masterbrand strategy

We also identified some key considerations:

  • Does your architecture strategy enable your brands to adapt to the fast-changing digital environment? If not, consider ecosystems and network-type structures as discussed by Erich Joachimsthaler and Agathe Blanchon-Ehrsam, Vivaldi.
  • Have you identified and assessed the iconic brand assets that, according to David Taylor of the brandgym, act as the ‘visual glue’ across all products and services?
  • Do you have an extension strategy? Jenni Romaniuk, the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, reminds marketers of the importance of protecting the masterbrand.
  • The hybrid approach, emerging in Asia, is not without its challenges, particularly when managing brand assets and building brand equity. Jay Milliken, Prophet discusses approaches used by brands such as Haier, Alibaba and Tencent.
  • Do you have a crisis management strategy? Anna Miley of The Foundation reminds us that in the digital age, opinions and scandals travel fast and wide. Brands should be prepared to do damage limitation

There's also a PDF deck which summarises the key thinking and advice, as well as a Chinese version of Jay Milliken’s article focusing on Asia.

Erich Joachimsthaler shares his brand architecture expertise in this exclusive video Q&A.

Similarly, Jay Milliken, Senior Partner and Asia Regional Lead for Prophet, spoke to WARC in another exclusive Q&A on the same topic.

And coming soon, David Taylor, Founder and Group Managing Partner of the brandgym will be presenting a webinar on using brand architecture for business growth.

We hope you enjoy the new-look Admap!