3 Common Brand Architecture Models

3 Common Brand Architecture Models

While M&A deal volume has been down in 2023 compared to the previous year, we still have clients coming to us looking for ways to restructure their brand ecosystem. 

At times, after a brand has been acquired, it must be rolled up into the existing brand architecture. However, there are also times where that brand architecture needs to change entirely. 

When this is the case, three models we often suggest are Endorsed Brands, Branded House, and Sub-Brands.

You might hear other terms like House of Brands or Hybrid, and we see and sometimes suggest those as well, but we’ll focus on these three for now.


Endorsed Brands

In this model, the master brand is in the background, but sub-brands gain clout through association.

Visually, the branding doesn’t have much in common with the master brand, has less harmony with the other brands, and feels altogether dissimilar.

3M is a good example of this. 

3M is primarily known as an adhesive manufacturer, which it uses on or in many of their brands and products. 

Scotch and Post-it have their own brand equity, but they benefit greatly by their association with 3M. You might say that Post-It, Scotch, and other adhesive products are powered by 3M.

You could also make a case that 3M is a House of Brands, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, but since the primary element holding these brands together (pun intended) is 3M adhesive, and since many of their 60,000 products have the little red 3M somewhere in the logo, we’re choosing to categorize the 3M architecture as an Endorsed Brand. (See the graphic at the end of this article for an illustration.)


Branded House


In this structure, the master brand is prominent, with each business unit sharing the parent organization’s brand identity. 

In GE’s case, the brands are differentiated by vertical/business unit. All business units share the same color palette and overall brand expression.

Individually, companies have less of an identity.

In GE’s Branded House structure, GE is the parent company and holds all the brand equity. There is no brand equity behind GE Aviation.

Rather it is GE that has specialists/specialization in the aviation space.



In Amazon’s Sub-Brand structure, there is clear association with the master brand, but each of the sub-brands stand on its own. 

They operate in the vicinity of the master brand and align closely with its mission, purpose, and goals.

Sub-brands also have visual ties to the master brand and share central visual themes—in this case they use the same color palette, the same font, and the Amazon smile—however, as with Kindle, they sometimes differ in style.

Ask the right questions

Before settling on your brand model, be sure to ask yourself the following questions.

Because getting your brand architecture right in the beginning will make future acquisitions, as well as future campaigns, significantly easier.


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