Many of our clients are professional services companies (doctors, CPAs, law firms, real estate, financial advisors), and as such we regularly answer questions about how to brand a parent company and their subsidiary brands. This week we were approached by a real estate company with some frustration over the difficult task of how they could develop their company brand, the agent brands and the relationship between their independent agents and the parent real estate company (with over 50 agents). Understanding brand architecture and the hierarchy of brands within a single company can be confusing and should be carefully considered in any brand or marketing strategy.
Companies need to understand that the need for clear brand architecture is not limited to large companies; this is equally important for small companies that have multiple brands. Any time you have an interrelationship of the parent company, subsidiary company (i.e. an agent), and products and services, it is important to bring visual and verbal order to the brands to help a company grow and market more effectively.
Here are a few key questions to start determining your brand architecture:
1.) What are the benefits of leveraging the name of the parent company?
2.) Is there any reason we should distance or dis-associate the two brands?
3.) Will co-branding confuse customers?
4.) What is the most compelling message of the parent brand and the subsidiary brand?
5.) How can we leverage this message to attract more clients?
6.) Should the parent brand always be visible in a secondary position?
As you think through some of the questions regarding brand relationships within your organization, consider visually how the brands appear related, verbally how the story of the brands are connected and technically how seamlessly you can find the brand relationships online. Internal and external brand alignment, and intentionally developing perceptions of your business is critical to establish a presence and capture market share. A cohesive and consistent brand is not an option – it is a must for any business!