Have you ever wondered how companies decide on their brand architecture? You might think it’s a well-thought strategic decision based on studies and profound research. Yet, most of the time it is in fact a long but subconscious process.
Usually, they start with one brand and, as they continue to grow, new business areas or products emerge and make companies face decisions on their brand architecture. Should business areas be separate brands or should they all fall under the same name? And what impact will these decisions have on the overall perception of the company?
Whilst most businesses operate under more than one brand, the truth remains that the majority of users do not distinguish between the insurance and the car rental division of a corporation, between the parent company and the subsidiaries, or between the sales and HR departments. Regardless of your company’s service classification or the internal organisational structure, it is likely that, in the eyes of customers, there is just one brand.
How to overcome this challenge of contemporary branding? At Good Rebels, we know for a fact that it’s all about adopting a customer-centric mindset. Users are overloaded with information, and interact with your business on a broad variety of different channels. In this context, putting customers first necessarily implies simplifying your communications and channel strategies, aligning your efforts to business needs to create a unified perception of the brand.
In the current era of superdigitalisation, a “One Brand” approach will help you leverage the potential of your brands to create the maximum impact throughout all the touchpoints with potential customers.
One brand, three pillars
- One User. In the age of Human-Centred Organisations, clients are not just clients anymore. On the contrary, they connect with brands through a triple journey, as customers, co-workers and citizens. And depending on the journey they are in, one single user can interact with a brand in the capacity of different roles. The same persona can be both a customer and an employee, and a user with general interest can easily evolve into a brand advocate. This highlights the importance of seeing all our personas as one unique user, adopting a single communication style in order to avoid giving mixed messages and causing confusion.
- One Channel. To communicate as One Brand, it is crucial to create a seamless user journey along all communication touchpoints. The idea is that, by understanding user interactions and unifying messages, all channels work in an interconnected way, putting the user in the center of all communication activities and improving the overall user experience.
- One Strategy. Finally, all areas and departments should combine efforts and resources into a unified message where shared objectives, strategies and KPIs converge, creating synergies to achieve overall business objectives.
The greatest challenge is co-creation
Transforming the way in which big corporations operate and communicate is not something that can happen overnight. Different departments and business units within companies have different mindsets, workflows, objectives and ways of working, and changing that is quite a difficult undertaking, mostly due to risk aversion and the urge of stability and certainty.
For that reason, in order to successfully implement a One Brand strategy, the first step is to involve all areas and departments in the planning process, as well as in the definition of content lines, so everyone feels represented and is accountable for the outcome. This can be done through an open discussion, but also through other kinds of tools such as surveys. In the end, it’s about raising awareness of what the different areas have in common: main objectives, positioning, and even highlights.
Once this has been underlined and understood by all participants, the next challenge is getting everyone to work together on defining and mapping schedules, the content and key messages for each moment of the year, combining and prioritising proposals and co-creating content in order to achieve the best possible outcome. This may sound quite simple, but the truth is it can take months or even years to break the habit and leave the circle of department thinking.
Less is more
The task is challenging, but adopting a One Brand strategy will bring numerous benefits to your organisation. Not only in financial terms, but most importantly because it improves the overall user experience by making it less confusing.
Just imagine you are looking for a brand on social media and you find many different accounts, some with a different visual identity, some with only a few followers and some with different messages than the rest. Users are unaware of the internal reasons behind that, and they will often end up more confused than before their search, trying to look for the actual official profile. Moreover, conversations around the brand will be fragmented among the different channels.
On that account, centralising your resources and efforts in one brand will not only be less confusing to the user, but will also allow your company to have more control over the messages you are receiving. In order to position your brand as top of mind your message needs to be simple, clear and continuous. In the end, one strong brand can work efficiently across several or all products and services while helping them build equity for one another.
Moreover, implementing a One Brand approach will also have a significant financial impact. Positioning various brands necessarily implies investing more resources and entails certain costs derived from “scattering” the brand and its communications alongside multiple websites and social media channels. And while many companies are aware that the launch of a new channel implies costs such as setup and the filling of materials, maintenance and nurturing costs are often forgotten, which are indeed, the most important. A channel is only valuable if the information it contains is updated and continues to be useful to the audience over time, so it needs to be constantly updated and filled with new and inspiring content.
Not to mention the management costs derived from customer care. The simplest action, like redirecting user conversations to a hotline or a form on the website, requires that a person is in charge of it. The same is true for media investment effort, which will increase when increasing the number of channels, as each of them will have their own budget, campaigns and segmentation, diluting the message and scattering communication efforts.
In short, taking on the challenge of adopting a One-Brand approach is a long and continuous process that can be quite demanding, particularly at an earlier stage.
However, once you have achieved co-creation it will not only improve your brand performance but also connect your employees and make them collaborate outside of their departments. Don’t forget it’s not just a change in your strategy. It’s a change in your company’s culture.