We have helped scores of companies with brand architecture issues. More often than one might think, we are approached by a division of a much larger company for help with its division-level brand architecture. Sometimes there are three or four levels of branding with numerous brands or sub-brands at each level. Knowing that consumers can only remember up to two levels of branding, we determine the best way to simplify the system to make it easier for consumers to understand and talk about the brand's product or service offerings. So far so good, however, we often discover that there are additional levels of branding above the division level that need to be dealt with and often that is outside of the scope and control of the management team that brought us in.
Often there are very strict brand identity standards at a higher corporate level and sometimes those standards are impractical or not compatible with the division level needs. In other instances, there are no standards at a corporate level. As consultants, we need to make sure that whatever we decide fits into the higher level brand identity system and standards. However, this often increases the number of brands that we are addressing, and usually the corporate level brands are a given for the purposes of our project. Sometimes this leads to a corporate-wide brand architecture project through which we are able to solve everything at once. Sometimes, based on the success of our division-level brand architecture work, we are brought back later to address the corporate-wide architecture. And sometimes we just have to deal with the corporate architecture, which can result in a sub-optimal solution at the division level.
Unless one is dealing with the top level brand, every brand needs to be considered within the context of the higher level brand structure of which it is a part. This is no trivial task.