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Brand Building:
An Architectural View

By Mark Levit

Successful brands have to be designed and managed to consistently communicate their attributes and attitudes. Marketing professionals give meaning to a brand by assigning it attributes to which customers will be attracted and which differentiate the brand from competitive entities.

Brands and Their Architecture
Each brand�s �architecture� is intended to communicate its key attributes. Great architecture addresses primarily emotional attributes but others may be part of the equation, too.

In architecting a brand, marketing professionals utilize marketing research and customer insights to develop a personality to which customers will relate. Outside research eliminates internal prejudices that are inevitably present.

Brand architecture focuses on the key attributes that will likely influence customers� overall decisions to buy:

  • Cost of entry attributes encompass what any brand must deliver. If you operate an insurance company, you must be able to underwrite your customers� risks. That�s the minimum requirement.
  • Differentiation attributes separate you from the competition. Of course, these attributes may not appeal to all. Also, your distinct attributes may not be at the top of your customers� minds and will require communication and education to stimulate purchase.
  • Preference attributes can propel a brand to leadership. These attributes represent significant points of leverage with customers. They may be as simple as �Made in the USA�. Preference attributes are the trump card, the qualities that keep your customers loyal.

The Equity in Attributes
Once the basic framework of brand architecture is established, determine what you can deliver uniquely, the areas in which your brand has an advantage. If no single brand has a sustainable advantage, you�ve got an open opportunity. Move to conquer.

Brand equity attributes include:

  • Key equity attributes provide direct leverage against competitors. Your business performance is higher than theirs, and you can use your strength to build new equities.
  • Minor advantage attributes: Your brand rates statistically stronger but your business performance is lower. Perception is reality�if customers think you�re stronger than your competition, you are.
  • Parity attributes: Your brand rates equivalent to your competition, but your business performance is higher. Feature your own strengths and your competitors� weaknesses.
  • Potential vulnerability attributes: Your brand is statistically even with competition, but your performance is lower. That�s dangerous; your competition will eventually seize your vulnerability.

Brand Architecture Development
Understandings of customer needs and wants must be an outgrowth of quantitative market data. Analyzing the brand and its key competitors helps determine attributes and equities.

Collect specific information on the subtle but meaningful differences between brands. And remember, great brands are architected from emotional attributes.

Using Brand Architecture
Marketing professionals use architecture to bring life to brands via advertising, packaging, promotion and all other touch points.

The value of brand architecture is clear when developing and rolling out marketing initiatives. Your brand should be the engine that drives your entire company. It starts from the inside out, as every employee lives the brand.

What�s the Difference?
Your brand is the only aspect of your company that truly differentiates your product or service. Brands act as �mental shorthand� for customers when they decide what to buy. Marketing�s goal is to create and continuously manage a distinctive environment for its brands.

Your brand and its architecture deserve attention and respect. Treated properly, they�ll help you maximize your marketing investment� and deliver a solid return.

Explore the power of branding with our managing partner Mark Levit. Call him at 212.696.1200 now for complete information.  Or [click here] now!

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