Branding 101: Brand Building, Elasticity, and Architecture

by Aziz Rawat

The term “brand” is thrown out in business meetings all the time. But what exactly is a brand? I guess we all loosely understand what it is but few truly do. After being in the advertising and branding business for over 17 years, I can probably write a book on it but for the purpose of this post I’ll stay brief and close to the fundamentals. And before I proceed, I’d like to mention my friend and ad world partner-in-crime Marilyn Lewis here who has imparted me with a lot of gems over the years in our countless discussions on the subject and this is one of them.

The idea of branding becomes a lot clearer once we understand what brand elasticity and architecture means.

branding 101 - brand elasticity and architecture


Brand elasticity is the degree to which a brand can stretch in terms of it’s product offering. And brand architecture is the structure that a company or organization chooses to build in order to create a brand or multiple brands. The brand architecture a company chooses will ultimately determine the elasticity of the brand(s) it creates.

There are 4 different types of brand structures that most brands fall under:

branding 101 - types of brands


Branded house:

This structure has one master brand that houses all other sub brands that are more like numbers. Most of the investment is directed towards the master brand. Apple is a good example of a branded house.

branding 101 - branded house

House of Brands:

This structure consists of a number of individual product brands and the master brand becomes secondary to the individual product brands. Procter & Gamble is a house of brands.

branding 101 - house of brands


This type of structure is used when two or more brands engage in a joint venture. They can lead to fun and creative engagement with consumers. Nike & Apple, Issac Mizrahi & Target, SeaWorld & Southwest airlines are some examples of co-branding structures.

branding 101 - cobranding

Endorsement Branding:

In this type of a structure the parent brand endorses another brand and adds credibility to the endorsed brand. This structure allows companies operating in many categories to position their individual brands through differentiation. 3M would be a good example for this brand architecture.

branding 101 - endorsement branding

Every product retailing in the market doesn’t amount to a brand name. The product is owned by the company or organization that manufactures it, but the brand is owned by the consumer who buys it. Most products don’t become great brands because they are created to serve a short-term business goal i.e. target sales. Long-term brand vision and a sustained effort toward achieving that vision is a prerequisite for turning a product into a brand. Taking into account the amount of diversification of product portfolios and brand integration through M&As that we see today, it’s important for CEOs and managers to understand brand architecture and elasticity.

Hope this post was helpful and I look forward to writing another on the subject soon.

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