Brand Architecture: The Danger Of Attachment

Once a brand has been established, it is difficult for people to give it up. They become emotionally attached to it. It may even be a source of self-esteem and personal pride. They invent a variety of excuses for why it should never go away.

The people I am talking about are not the brand’s customers or consumers but rather its creators and caretakers.

Often, brands create as much or more of an emotional connection with the people who manage them as they do with the people to whom they are marketed.  Therein lies the problem with organizations that are skillful and prolific at creating new brands or that have grown through numerous mergers and acquisitions.

The Blake Project has been retained by many an organization that needs to simplify its portfolio of brands. The complex brand structure usually results in increased complexity, cost and customer confusion. However, the brands are entangled in so many ways with their individual support systems, including their dedicated managers and teams, that they are very difficult to terminate.

How likely is it that the person who created the brand or currently manages the brand will say, “yes, my brand should go away’? Not only does that person understand the brand’s equity, consumer franchise and complex expressions but that person’s ego, and perhaps livelihood, also depends on the brand’s survival.

This is where the senior most manager’s perspective and leadership skills are required. Someone needs to have the broader perspective and to make the tough decisions. As importantly, that same person needs to make it safer for those who are likely to fear harm and experience personal loss by the brand consolidation process.

As much as I am a fan of brands, sometimes organizations have too many brands. When that occurs, one needs to revisit the organization’s brand portfolio and simplify the brand structure. As brand consultants, we can help with the brand rationalization process. However, the process is aided immensely when the organization’s leader is willing and able to anticipate and manage the inevitable human resource consequences of the process.

The Blake Project Can Help: The Brand Architecture Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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Brad VanAuken The Blake Project


  • mark disomma

    October 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Brad – I laughed with recognition at your observation, “They invent a variety of excuses for why it should never go away.” My favourite excuse is “Customers will miss it if it goes”. When you point out to them that no-one’s buying that brand and hasn’t been for some time, they remain adamant that people will still miss it. It strikes me as a bit like brand hoarding … A great reminder to all of us of the need for, and the power of, objective refreshment and revision of brand assets. Thanks. Mark.

  • Hilton Barbour

    October 26, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    To torture a metaphor, all healthy trees require pruning from time to time. As a counterpoint to the valid perspective outlined above, I’m as fascinated by brands that are resurrected after years of neglect and go on to be highly successful/lucrative. A great reminder that all business’ need to make tough choices in order to remain healthy.

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