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4 Ways Brand Architecture Empowers Sub-Brands: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Nov 15, 2022

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

This is Episode #132 and we’re talking brand architecture and sub-brands. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts Episode #132: 4 Ways Brand Architecture Empowers Sub-Brands

Your sub-brands can pack a serious punch for your business – when you use them correctly with your primary brands. How do you get your brands to work together like a family? It comes down to a strong brand architecture. In this episode, you’ll learn how empowering your sub-brands gives each sub-brand a “home” under the master brand, its own visual and verbal toolkit for strategy creation, unites the sub-brands and creates success criteria, and allows for cross-promotion. You’ll also discover how to approach brands that make vastly different revenue, what to do with brands that don’t fit, and how to decide if new brands would fit. This episode covers everything from master brands to cross-promotion. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How can brand architecture empower sub-brands?
  • What is brand architecture?
  • How can this structure help decide if new brands fit?
  • What if some of the brands are larger and bring in more money than the others?
  • How does brand architecture give each sub-brand a “home?”
  • What if you discover there are some brands that just don’t fit?
  • How does brand architecture give each sub-brand its own visual and verbal toolkit?
  • What’s the deal with fast fashion?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

  • 4 Ways Brand Architecture Empowers Sub-Brands
    • [0:00] Welcome to Marketing Smarts
    • [0:30] Anne Candido, April Martini
    • [0:33] Learn more at
    • [0:42] How can brand architecture empower sub-brands?
    • [1:29] What is brand architecture?
    • [1:46] It gives each sub-brand a “home” under the master brand
    • [4:39] B2B (Business-to-Business)
    • [5:19] P&G (Procter & Gamble), Downy
    • [6:08] It gives each sub- brand its own visual and verbal toolkit for strategy creation
    • [7:29] Coca-Cola (Coke)
    • [11:00] Brand Equity
    • [13:41] It unites the sub-brands and creates success criteria
    • [16:04] Revenue, Profit
    • [18:41] Walmart
    • [18:59] ROI (Return on Investment)
    • [20:29] It allows for cross-promotion and leveraging the collective impact of the sub-brands
    • [21:08] Old Spice
    • [22:22] Tech (Technology), Managed Service Providers (MSPs)
    • [24:38] Recap: How can brand architecture empower sub-brands?
    • [25:24] Marketing Smarts is sponsored by Scott Mautz is a popular keynote speaker and #1 bestselling author whose latest book and talk Leading from the Middle helps middle managers dramatically increase their influence up, down, and across their organization. Want your company’s middle managers and leaders equipped to foster a high-performing organization? Want them inspired to drive the change and transformation that’s a challenging necessity moving forward? Go to to check out Leading from the Middle and all of Scott’s keynotes, trainings, courses, and books
    • In-the-Trenches
    • [26:18] What if some of the brands are larger and bring in more money than the others?
    • [28:12] Agency
    • [31:47] Recession
    • [34:02] What if we discover there are some brands that just don’t fit?
    • [40:28] Jif, Crisco
    • [43:53] You mentioned this structure can help decide if new brands fit. How so?
    • Marketing Smarts Moments
    • [49:37] Fast Fashion
    • [50:07] unzye
    • [55:34] Recap: How can brand architecture empower sub-brands?
    • [56:25] Make sure to follow Marketing Smarts on your favorite podcast spot and leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts
    • [56:32] Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
    • [56:38] Sign up to view all the ForthRight worksheets & tips for FREE!
    • [56:47] Shop our Virtual Consultancy

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts, a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it.

April Martini 0:29
Welcome to Marketing Smarts.

Anne Candido 0:31
I am Anne Candido, and I am April

April Martini 0:33
Martini. And today we’re going to cover a topic that can get just a tad bit or a lot dense, and is often perceived as a bit of a black box for lots of companies. And that is brand architecture. And really specifically, our argument for how it empowers sub brands and gives them a reason to exist within the master brand. And stand on their own, we’re applicable. And before we really get into it, we should say that this episode is really more of a 201, or even 301 topic. So if you feel like you’re more of a beginner, tap into any of our brand fundamentals episodes, and start there first. So how to create fill in the blank, your brand story, your brand character, your brand toolkit,

Anne Candido 1:14
those types of things. Yes, very good suggestion. And before we jump into the episode, let’s start with some definitions just to make sure we’re all clear. So brand architecture is a strategy that organizes the sub brands and their offerings under a single overarching master brand. So taking all the products, services, etc, that are offered and giving them a structure that makes sense and enables a business to proceed with intention.

April Martini 1:40
Exactly. And with that, we will get into how brand architecture empowers sub brands. So number one, it gives each sub brand a home under the master brand. And I will take this one, and I’m sure it’ll have some things to say as well. So there comes a time in a company’s lifecycle when there are multiple fill in the blank brands, products, services, offerings, and they all need to be organized in a way that ties them back to the overall master brand. Another way to think about this that might be more intuitive is a parent brand versus a child brand. And thinking about it in terms of they all have a role in the family. So they know what that role is. And then they also know how they contribute to the bigger picture of the parent brand. So what does this look like? Well, first, the master brand must be clearly defined. So we already said in the beginning, if you feel like you’re a beginner all those tools, that’s what we’re talking about. So you have to develop the overall master or parent brand first. Because if you don’t do that, then you’re not going to be able to effectively define and then leverage those sub brands. So if you have that entire, what we call toolkit developed for the master brand, then you are able to go ahead and orient that in ways that will work for the sub brands. And what I mean by that is that you’re going to make selective nuanced changes and develop additional tools that each individual sub brand needs. But that ties to the higher level strategy of the master or parent brand, I want to be crystal clear here, this does not mean that you go and create completely new brands for all of the sub brands. The exercise is to take what exists at that high level. And to the point of giving each sub brand home, you new wants the tools so that they work for each sub brand in ways that are both similar, but also slightly different from the master brand. And we’ll talk more about the full toolkit in the next point. So I’m not going to really get into the details of that until we go there. But just know must have a fully defined master brand, and then must be able to have enough tools to apply to the sub brands.

Anne Candido 3:54
Yeah, and just to kind of break this down in a couple of different versions of how you might be thinking about this. So for example, if you’re a small business, your master brand is probably your business, right? Oh, yeah. Right. So you should be thinking about that in the context of your business. And then as you add capabilities or services, or offerings, those become your sub brands. So then you’re going to think about how those individual things start to ladder up to your overarching brand. And it helps you to better categorize them, describe them, define them, sell them, scale them, all those things that you need to do from a business context, and we’re gonna talk about the business side of this a lot today. Okay, so you can think about that one way. And there’s also a lot of ways that the B2B businesses thinks about it, right? So it’s like, okay, I have this big company style brand, my master brand here, how am I taking all of those offerings, all those services, all of those opportunities for me to sell things to my clients, and then how do those all linked together into something that is uniquely me authentically me, that then becomes some thing that I can develop brand love against. And I can develop marketing against that I can develop sales strategies against all those things. Now, there’s also consumer products, which is where a lot of people go with this. And they’re like, oh, yeah, brand architecture is for consumer products. And I did this for years in p&g land where you have like, Downy, for example, which the brand I worked on. Downy has the main parent brand, right. So that is the actual brand. And it actually has a flagship product associated with it, which is the fabric enhancer, in a sense now has Unstopables, which is the beads, it also has dryer sheets. And sometimes I think that would have some sort of wash, I can’t remember what the latest offering of it is. Those are the sub brands, right? They all kind of play and they connect. And as you said, the family, they’re all part of that family. But they all have different roles to play within that family where and that’s what we’re gonna get into details in a minute. But the important thing is to notice that there are certain cues so we can get that into your head right now. You can start thinking about oh, yeah, there’s certain things that are thematic, or strings that are pulled through that make it feel like it’s cohesive, that makes it feel like it’s all coming together.

April Martini 6:06
Yes, yes, very good example. All right, and number two, and like we said, these, these two points really work well together. So it’s kind of a one A, if you will, but point two, it gives each sub brand, its own visual and verbal toolkit for strategy creation. So to the point above about nuancing, the strategic tools, that’s the start of the toolkit from there, you have to take a look at all of the different executional elements that exist and complement them with additional ones for each sub brand. So this is where like and just gave the Downy example right, Downy itself has a master brand toolkit for Downy specifically, when you get into things like Unstopables there are elements like the unstoppables logo mark sub brandmark that look different or colors that are different or you know the bottles I don’t know if they still are cuz I haven’t purchased them. And while we’re black, where’s the downy was like that lighter blue color, right. So if you again, if you can picture this in your head, it will be really helpful to this point. So this is inclusive of things like logos, colors, fonts, icons, photography, treatment, messaging toolkit, visual execution, I said a lot of things there, right. So hopefully, you’ve listened to a lot of our episodes, one on one about all of those different things. But again, I will give an example. Because we think throughout this will really helped to bring these things to life so that you can picture it. So Coke, everybody knows Coke, right? It’s a really iconic brand. And there are some signature things about that master brand that exist and that have continued to exist for a very, very long period of time. That’s why it’s iconic. So the red color of the traditional brand of Coca-Cola, the font that Coca-Cola is in and even mentioned, as I was drafting this episode, the bottle shape, right, so like the historic glass bottle, everybody can picture the celebrated model yet the silhouette and it’s still the same, although it’s comes in plastic, and all other things now, right? Those are some of those iconic brand elements that live at the Coca-Cola brand level. However, Coca-Cola also has sub brands, right, so we’ll talk about two Diet Coke and Coke Zero. If you think about Diet Coke, it still uses the red color, although in a lot more minimal way. And it is predominantly silver. So whether we’re talking about the can, it’s just the silver can if you’re talking about a label on one of the plastic bottles, or even glass, it’s silver predominantly. And then the diet is a completely different font. So there’s enough connection that you can sit a can of Coke and a can of Diet Coke next to each other. And you would say they’re part of the same family. But they each have very choice ful different design elements that are leveraging some of the original Coca-Cola master brand, but then bringing in elements that are complementary, but specific to Diet Coke. Same when you think about Coke Zero, black is leveraged more, however, well I would say black is a pretty big departure. The Diet Coke kind of lives in the middle, right. But what they have done is continue to use the same font for Coke Zero, that script font, so that there is that connection point to that to the master brand. So you can see kind of varying degrees. And if I think about the way that the lineup is it goes Coca-Cola Diet Coke is probably a little more closely linked Coke Zero, which is a newer innovation flexes a little bit further so you can start to see how you can make all of these elements play together. But if you want to look at a brand that does this tremendously well and has throughout the entire history of the brand Coke is one of them. And when you break it down to these really specific elements, you can see how important they are to making sure that each sub brand can live on its own, but also has the halo of the master brand. Have Coca-Cola.

Anne Candido 10:00
Yeah, and a lot of people will say, well, that’s great for consumer product has translate to a b2b business is actually very, very similar. So obviously, you have the visual element of your toolkit, which is making sure that your visual and your verbal elements are translated appropriately across from your master brand into your sub brand. But it’s also in the naming of your service. Right, it’s in the way that you talk about the services. And that’s a big thing that we talked about is that consistency in Ness where a lot of people sometimes get in trouble. And I know you talk about the color of the rainbow, whenever it’s time, everybody wants to do something new, they make some sort of random different color, or they wanted this one, they want to kind of be a little bit more edgy. So they’re gonna talk about a little bit more on an edgy way for that one, and everybody’s like, that doesn’t feel like, right, where does that come from. And then people start getting very disconnected in their brain because they can’t link that to you, then you lose your equity. Right, you lose the opportunity to continue to scale your equity and build your equity. But you also lose that attribution. And you have to work very, very hard them for that person to realize that you because it’s not connecting in their brain, because the elements and the cues, aren’t there to say, oh, yeah, I can see why that’s part of that company. Oh, that makes me understand that company more therefore, one plus one equals five, versus you developing some sort of random sub brand. And now it comes dilutive to your actual business, because people are like, I don’t understand why it comes from them. And it’s not making sense. So it’s like one plus one actually equals negative two. Right? So that’s why you, you do it. And these are bigger, overarching rationales for why you do this is because you’re trying to build a continuity in people’s mind. So that when they see it, that they’re able to attribute it to you. So that’s why going back to the Downey example, and I’m using a consumer products because that’s what people can, you can go to the shelf and see this. It’s harder to see it when you’re doing a B2B business. But hopefully, you’re understanding how to translate these elements now, like the down to your rate April, like the traditional Downy in the mask called the mass or the general or the primary base product is blue is down a blue would always be down a blue, that thing will never change. Right. But as you’re thinking about the premium Downy a premium Downy, it can’t be the base down in color, it has to be something different. It is a darker blue, right. But the thing that’s the same, the bottle shape was originally the same, they started changing the bottle shape to more of an hourglass more of a premium luck. It was black as a primary color. But the also the the rose translated so the rows and the logo, the rows and the cap, those things translated. So there’s enough queuing there that people are like, Oh, I get it as part of Downy I can trust it. It’s part of Downy. Interestingly enough, the product benefit is different. But the sentence is, so the cue that keeps it consistently in the family, right. So that’s the other thing to think about, too, is that from the product benefit standpoint, this can be in a b2b or a can be in a consumer products category is what is those things that are people going to see in those those triggers and news cues that people are going to know Oh, this is your product. And daddy’s case it’s sent. It’s not fabric enhancement? Well, I guess it was not fabric, it is fabric enhancement. It’s not the benefit of the softening. Okay, so that was originally actually why we changed the whole category. And it was actually my naming if I was going to claim it. But so that’s why we now call it something different, right? So it kind of gets to that more overall category of what you do. But it’s not the softening benefit. That is the category thread is the actual sense. So that’s another example to kind of help where it might not have been so obvious. Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s fair. All right, number three, and I’m going to turn this one over to an it unites the sub brands and creates

April Martini 13:46
success criteria.

Anne Candido 13:48
Yes. So this is where we get a little bit into the business aspect of this. And I alluded to this already before, where there is an element of doing this because your business needs it. And primarily, that’s why you do it. But it’s also then easier as you are building new products, or you’re introducing new products for your team to work more efficiently to and to be able to make those choices and set those goals in ways that are growth minded. But efficient. So let me let me break this down a little bit. So what I like to talk about when I talk about architecture is I kind of consider it like a framework. Yeah, right. And the framework helps you to really identify how each one thing is going to play in the role it’s going to play within your business and within your, your strategies for growth, whether it’s for your sales, whether it’s for revenue generation, whether it’s for profit generation, but they don’t all play the same role. Right? Right. So a lot of times your parent brand or your master brand is going to be like your workhorse that’s the thing that it just churns and burns. You may or may not have a ton of innovation against it. But it is like the tried and true what your brand business company stands for is your bread and butter, it’s your bread and butter. Rarely do you mess with your bread and butter once you kind of got to get it going, right, but it’s generally not the biggest margin thing that you have is generally not something that you can start to like reduce your cost of goods sold or take a lot of risks, right without taking a ton of risk or to like going to get really sexy with it when it’s been a very, you know, just kind of like family oriented brand, right? You don’t take those do that with your flagship, you you kind of play your flagship, very true to the best, where you can start taking some risks is in your sub brands, right, you can start to orient your sub brands to play different roles within the category that you’re playing it and be able to then drive incremental revenue, profit outreach to the new consumer base, you can start playing on those fringes in ways that may make sense for your growth and for your skill, but without putting a significant risk or damage or diluting your parent brand. So as you think about what your family looks like you’re going using back to the analogy, which I think it’s a great analogy, you start to think about okay, you know, we have, you know, mom over here, whose is the, you know, the parent brand, like what role do I want this kid to play? You know, what are they going to be? How are they going to go behave? How are they going to look? You know, what’s going to who they’re going to be friends with who they’re going to go talk to this kid this kid, that’s how you start kind of thinking about it. But then we got to remember, as we’ve said that there has to be some family resemblance, there were a bit it’s good to think that you know, she had sex with the milkman. Right? So don’t think we’d go there today. Yeah, don’t make sure make sure your your sub brands don’t look like they had sex with the milkman.

April Martini 16:48
So that’s where you start to kind of put together then the way that your your framework looks in order to build that architecture, so that it all holds together. And this is in ways that you can do your visual like we talked but verbal, like we talk, and then make sure that it all holds together. Yeah. And I would say to it helps you make selections objectively about what fits and what doesn’t. So to the point that and just made, and previous points made about making sure that you don’t come across as tone tone deaf or people aren’t scratching their head saying, Well, I would have never thought that they could offer that or they really can’t offer that right. It kind of it helps you to start to say, is there a relation? Or is there not? And from a business perspective, it helps you look at it and say, does it make sense for us to make this acquisition or not? Does it make sense for us to put this product in the pipeline or not? Does it make sense for us to start start selling through this channel or not? It really does help to clarify what fits not from a financial implication perspective, necessarily, like the business does. But more from a is this going to build our brand equity, authenticity, and consistency to where consumers are going to be able to like and said, give you the nod and say, Oh, that’s from them,

Anne Candido 18:14
makes total sense. And I think to that point at the thing, it also helps with is avoiding skew chasing, oh gosh, right, which is the biggest detriment. And a lot of the businesses that we see, it’s like, oh, five people want this, alright, we’re gonna give it to them. And we’re just gonna make this over here, it’s easy enough, we’re just gonna change the label, change the color, put it out there and see how it does in the world of digital selling. Now, I mean, you don’t have to go to Walmart, or you know, any of those places and sell something and so why not do it. But then that has implications too, because it draws resources, you have to put some sort of investment in it to make it go. So now you’re diluting your resources, and are you delivering your resources for the right reason. So it’s always a constant balance of where you want to put your investment in? Is your investment worthwhile in order to deliver their ROI? It could be if even if it’s small. I mean, it doesn’t necessarily get a biome thing. If your margins are astronomical, right? If your thing is just making money, hand over fist, and you can put it on autopilot and a goes, maybe it’s okay. If it’s like that, you just have to see how it fits within your your business goals in order to make it all work together harmoniously.

April Martini 19:21
Yeah, I mean, I’ll give one more example, which is agencies, which is where I come from. And you know, we’re branding experts in theory, right. But sometimes we get caught up to and so chasing the shiny thing. Yeah, she’s always you know, it was like, Oh, this new digital thing. And so we would automatically think we had to play there and at the agencies that were disciplined from a brand perspective, we would decide not to a lot of times play in those spaces. The ones that were a little call it less disciplined, will chase the shiny and then it would be to the detriment of the rest of the business and then the brand overall so the focus would shift so substantially because is we are distracted by the shiny things, that resources would be thrown at something and then the stuff that actually was on brand and making the money for the company would be at a loss. And then you can see how that would start to atrophy, atrophy, we would lose clients, all those sorts of things. So another sort of b2b play, but you can kind of picture how that would go. Yeah, that’s a really good example. All right, number four, it allows for cross promotion and leveraging the collective impact of the sub brands when you do your brand architecture, right. And,

Anne Candido 20:35
yeah, and this is what we were talking about. And this is really, this is really what you’re trying to achieve, right? So this is how you scale. I mean, this is like, the golden rule of scaling is that you have to be able to have continuity between your sub brands in order to really take advantage of the scale effect of a brand. Right, and so when you’re able to do that, you start to be able to get people’s attention and other categories that you may not have had before. Because the brand equity transfers and translates over. So another good one is Old Spice. I mean, think about even the translation of brand equity they had from, you know, your your dad’s set to now it’s like the young guys like swagger set, right? You know, and so, but it’s not just Indiana, which is the flagship brand, that’s what makes them money. It’s an bodywash, it’s in all these other forms, where you can then start playing, which makes sense, right? It’s not like a total departure from what you would expect. But then it also starts building an equity. They’re like, Okay, this is cool enough that we can maybe start doing things like T shirts, you know, and start making that more of a equity play where it’s cool to wear an Old Spice t-shirt, hmm. And that starts to become walking billboards. It’s not necessarily you’re trying to generate a ton of revenue out of selling T shirts, but it becomes a walking billboard. So you can see how this has like a gratuitous cycle, if you’re very intentional, and how you’re planning those cues, and what themes you have across, so that you can start really creating that momentum that really lifts your brand. Now, the one thing that we’re seeing a lot on the b2b side, especially on the tech side, and especially in tech stacking, is with managed service providers or MSPs, right. So as you’re building whatever system you have, you are starting to notice, well, okay, if I’m going to offer this system, then I can actually offer all these other systems around it, I can bundle those together. And also I create more value for my customer, right. So a lot of people are pulling in these MSPs, in order to be able to provide those bundles be able to sell and differentiate. That is an element of what we’re talking about here. But it’s important to recognize which ones you’re going to bring in, because you’re not going to be able to spend enough money or in order to do all the individual ones, like most people will don’t have enough money or time or effort or people to do all the individual ones, they all have to work very harmoniously together in order to get the effect of the brand.

April Martini 23:01
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the ones that I think is really easy to think about this way is when you bring different services together in and gave the more technical example, but I’ll give kind of the more construction, if you will angle where if you’re thinking about cross pollination, and how to support in which offerings to have, let’s say you have a construction company. And beneath that you have a submarine that offers building materials, and one that focuses on plumbing, and another one’s about foundations. And then all of a sudden, there’s a stone layer in the mix, you can start to see how all of these things create that house or family we’ve done lots of I feel like metaphors, family, but you know, it all starts to work together in a way that again, it builds credibility, but then they can borrow from each other. So when you’re thinking about the business implications, like this service example, this is another one where you can think about, okay, well, if I’m out there, you know, by myself, and all I offer is building supplies. But then there’s this other company that offers all these services, then they can reach scale, and also cross promote selling opportunities. And if one brand is super trusted, then it gets the halo to all the other ones and you can start to organically sell a lot easier. And so it allows for magnitude in a different way.

Anne Candido 24:23
And it’s just easier. I mean, instead of having to contract 100 projects, or 100 vendors, you know, for your one project you have the vendor in your back pocket, yes. So to speak. So yes,

April Martini 24:34
exactly. All right. So just to recap how brand architecture empowers sub brands, number one, it gives each sub brand a home under the master brand, each sub brand knows their place related to that master brand and also in relation to the other sub brands. Number two, it gives each sub brand its own visual and verbal toolkit for strategy creation. These elements allow for consistent United visual and verbal communications that ladder back to the master brand but also So with individuality for each sub brand, number three, it unites the sub brands and create success criteria, the goals become larger than each sub brand. And unite to the overall master brand as one. Number four, it allows for cross promotion and leveraging the collective impact of the sub brands. When the sub brands understand the bigger picture, and how they can help each other across pollination becomes natural. And with our next segment in the trenches, obviously, for all of you listening, you know, this is where we give real world examples specific to industries and situations but with broad application so that anyone listening can digest and put them into action. So number one, in the trenches, what if some of the brands are larger and bring in more money than the others? I love this one, this comes up all the time. So first of all, we would just say this is actually completely normal. And it does happen more than you would think. It’s also a very, very, very good reason, if we haven’t given you enough already for doing this work. When this is the case, and one brand is making a whole lot more money than all of the other some of the others, whatever it makes, the smaller brands feel like second class citizens in a lot of situations, and they just can’t compete, quote, unquote, with the big guys. So everyone needs a home a reason to exist, and also an understanding of how they contribute to the bigger picture. So that they can live together and provide their role without having to think about the fact that they don’t produce as much money as the big guy. So this is why the strategies and the goals can’t be only around financials, each sub brand has to have an individual set of goals and what they’re able to achieve to produce for that bigger picture, they have to understand what is their place within the family again, so is one and innovation pillar, great, then they shouldn’t be held to making a lot of money right off the bat. And they’re probably offset for a period of time by the bread and butter sub brands or sub brands that have been around a while and are thriving. But maybe they add a lot of energy to the company, or maybe they’re allowing them to play in a space they’ve never played in before. Or maybe they’re cool within the confines of whatever that means for the brand. And they can breathe new life into the brand. So that’s the way to start to think about what are those goals beyond just the money. And this is where the big picture is just so so important. Because if everyone feels like they’re part of that family, they feel like they have their place. There’s not competition among each other. But they all are understanding what their role is and how they can produce or work toward the collective whole or greater good. So, you know, I mentioned before the agency thing and the desire to be shiny, one of the agencies that I worked for did it really well, because they were a very well respected brand overall, but they were known to just be a behemoth. And what that does sometimes is it makes them feel a little bit sleepier, or like they can’t compete with some of the more boutique type clients. So they’re not gonna be able to flex or they’re really good at CPG, we’ve talked a lot about consumer packaged goods here today, they can work on the P and G’s of the world and crank those out all day long. But if it’s a shinier opportunity, they’re not going to be able to do that. And so they took the time to identify and acquire another company that, again, we’ve been talking this all day had the same sort of mission vision values at their core, definitely had more swagger, and more, actually international presence, quite frankly, that was another one of the goals. But when you really broke them down in the way that they did everything from approach the work, sell the work, decide what they were going to sell, who they were actually competing against, versus trying to boil the ocean and compete with everyone, there was a very similar profile. And the big company did a good job of shopping around and vetting against the criteria that was related to, of course, business success, but also the brand in totality, so that they were able to find and bring on the right partner. And then like I just said with this example, the expectation was not really ever that the partner was going to be able to make the kind of money that the company was it was always obviously a percentage based on size. But for that smaller company, it gave them security, yes, but it also unlocked some bigger brands that they’d never been able to get before. So it was a good opportunity on both sides. And they both understood the role. And so the ability to bring them together in a meaningful way and then leverage those brands together. worked really, really well because it was all done with the intentionality of what we’re talking about today. And to the point of this one, there wasn’t the competition around money from the get go.

Anne Candido 29:54
Yeah, and I think to your point, I mean, this is something you should expect, right? Because there is different strategic reasons for Doing sub brands. Yeah. And you should think about Asia know what that is, it shouldn’t be an arbitrary decision, like we said SKU chasing or because this person’s playing there, then I’m going to play there because it’s cool, it should have a strategic place in play. And that goes back to the success criteria and the goals that we were talking about, I think in point three. And really, if you think about your overall business as a whole, and you think about what your goal for your businesses, you then start breaking that down into what parts are your sub brands gonna play? And what role is your sub brand going to play in order to deliver that business, it could be a financial goal, it could be more of a innovation strategy goal, it could be in a bar, a place to play goal, it could be within category leadership goal, it could be a whole bunch of different goals. And you would develop sub brands for certain reasons in order to go serve those goals. And like you said, sometimes you cannibalize one in order to support the other, you have to determine how long are you going to do that, and if the ROI was worth it, but they all do help to solidify and make your brand be able to thrive, especially in times of crisis, or a times of recession, like we’re going into? I mean, that’s a big reason why, you see a lot of the consumer products brands have multiple different tiers, right? Yep, it’s for that leveling up and that leveling down and so that they’re able to survive, when times get tough, and I don’t necessarily have the the dollars I want for my premium brands, right. And I have to make the choice. Same thing for a B2B business, it’s the same thing that you need to look at, you’re gonna want to tear your offerings to that’s one way of developing sub brands. And that could come from bundling, it could come from having additional service offerings. That is very typical. We see it a lot in law offices right in bro, like where you bring in partners who have very specific capabilities and expertise, because it’s an emerging space or because it’s something that your, your clients are asking for is because maybe there’s something going on in your environment that’s like, oh, maybe we need more of that. Or something that somebody else isn’t taking advantage of. You’re like, Ah, this is money. Payable. Yep. Right. So think about that. I think the biggest lesson here is making sure it’s not arbitrary. Yes, it’s not just oh, we haven’t had anything new for a while, or we need some new news. So we’re just going to make this happen or a good it’s going to develop this because it does require a level of investment, both your time, your money, your people. So you want to make sure you’re putting your investment in allocating it appropriately to the sub brands that deserve it.

April Martini 32:27
No, I think that’s a good point. And hopefully, you can hear we’re trying to give context around everything from tangible products through to services to how this relates to business. So it really is a nuanced thing. And so the more you can have the tools in your toolkit, but then also think about the strategic implications of everything you’re doing, the better you will be, but again, said before, that this is really meant to be a framework. And I think that’s a really good way to think about it, because it ensures that you’re being thoughtful, with all the decisions you’re making across your business, and that you’re always looking at the bigger picture, not just in the silo of whatever thing you provide, or your own personal objectives for your team, or what your individual business unit is responsible for. Exactly. All right, number two, in the trenches, what if we discover there are some brands that just don’t fit. And I feel like I’m a cheerleader today. Again, this happens, and it’s totally fine. totally opposite of my demo. But cleaning house is equally a part of the brand architecture, it’s equal to defining sub brands, sometimes you just find that something’s run its course to drag, or Yeah, it’s a drag, or oops, we tried that innovation in it didn’t work so well. And we need to divest. Now, you know, all of those different things happen. If I go back to the house example that I gave before, what if one of the businesses that you brought on was landscaping, and for a period of time, it made a ton of sense for that to live within your family? Because you had so many suburban jobs, and landscaping was really expensive for that point in time. And you were being asked for that service. And you couldn’t find any reliable partners. And so when you brought it on, it made a ton of sense. But now the world you’re living in your business has shifted to be more urban. So you’re not dealing with yards necessarily, you may have no landscaping whatsoever. And oh, by the way, other partners have entered the market, and it’s gotten a little bit more saturated. And now there’s a lot of people that can do it a lot cheaper than you and they have better resources than you. And so that might be a point in time when you say, You know what, this just isn’t working. We can look at it objectively and say, we brought that on for a period of time. And here was why and it made money, but now it’s run its course and to Anne’s point, now it’s become a drag on the business and so we’re better off not offering that service anymore. This is really, really important because shins can run high in these instances. So I don’t mean to minimize the fact that people may lose jobs or, you know, a partner may go away that you didn’t have before you, if you divest the brand, they’re now gone, you don’t offer that anymore within your portfolio. So the good thing about the brand architecture piece and complement to the business strategy is that it can help it come from a more objective place so that everyone can be on board and understand. I’ll give one more example. And then I’ll pass this over to end. But I had this business that I worked on for a couple of years, and it was a bakery brand at its core. But it basically provided two different companies without any mention of their name. Either ingredients, partially finished goods or finished goods. So what that means from a bakery sense is either, okay, Starbucks, we’re going to give you all the ingredients, and you’re gonna make it there at your store. Or we’re going to provide you a cake, and you’re going to do the icing and the creation of whatever that topping looks like there. Or we’re just going to sell you the whole cake, and you’re going to cut it up and put it in your display case, right. So and they were a family owned company, and they they were fantastic. But they really saw a tremendous business opportunity in putting their brand forward and offering and selling things as this company, and they just could not get over the hurdle of how that was going to make the clients feel. Not to mention and mentioned before about all the colors of the rainbow. This was just like SKU proliferation like I’ve never seen before. I mean, when you looked at the amount of things that they offered, it was pages and pages and pages, I don’t even know how their partners navigated it, I’m guessing they probably had their things that they bought, and they just buy it right. So we had two pretty significant problems, the portfolio was a complete mess. And then we had all this emotion tied to well, we don’t want to make people mad, essentially. And so this exercise was really, really great for them. Because on one hand, it helped us develop the different family members, the sub brands that really and truly should exist, we shut down, I don’t even just 75% of what was on that product list, and got rid of it. So we cleaned up the whole portfolio. And then on the other side, we were able to help them leverage what was great about their brand at the parent brand master brand level, to help them get comfortable with ways that their brand could live out there in the wild really authentically, without feeling like they were speaking out both sides of their mouth to the client and position them those sub brands in ways where they weren’t stealing business from those other clients. I mean, sometimes it was like, Well, you know, Starbucks is a premium, right? They don’t care if you know they’re in the store, but you’re putting the ingredients or the baked goods on the shelf in the grocery, right, and there happens to be a Starbucks in there. They don’t care, because that that’s not the same use case. That’s not why the person is coming in there. So you’re able to create those narratives and show them that they could live in both ways, and that they weren’t going to anger somebody, right. But that’s the whole point of this. One is I think, number one, there can be things that happen where things don’t fit in the portfolio, or there can be just a sort of fear based emotional state that you can’t get over. But when you do this exercise, it creates that framework that allows you to be able to feel like okay, I can feel good about this decision. And I understand how we maintain our brand at the top. But we can continue to expand, grow scale all of those things. It’s almost free to have the sub brands to do so. Yeah, and I think the word is discipline that oh, yeah, you believe we haven’t said this yet. I say, Well, yeah, you’re my student. You might or you alluded to it, but I just to be very clear. Yeah. I mean, it is the discipline in frankly, these are the hardest decisions you will make. Yeah. And that’s why a lot of people want to throw out the structure or they want to like actually modify the architectures like well, let’s just find a place for this. Oh, hey, oh

Anne Candido 39:13
my gosh, you basically undermine your whole architecture because it these are very hard decision to make this these are very emotional decisions to make. And sometimes these are poor performing sub brands necessarily, sometimes they are just fine. But they are not conducive to the other things that need to happen in order Okay, synergy is like the processes the people the money in the investment, right. So I’ll give an example. When P&G divested Jif Crisco and Folger I was hoping you were gonna go there. Yes. I mean, everybody’s like, Are you guys crazy? I mean, Jif and Crisco, just as an example. I mean, what was less innovation you’ve ever seen on Jif? It’s been crunchy and creamy for like 1,000 years, even though commercials are still the commercials that we aired, but it was part of P&G, that they just printed money. Yeah, just printing money, Crisco the same thing. Printing money, we changed the bottle a couple of years ago, like 20 years ago, me but seriously, there hasn’t been a ton of innovation there. Now Folgers I was part of that, that change the from the metal can to the actual plastic can but the coffee itself having different variants, it’s the same right. And the commercials for that are still the same in the commercials are they’re still the same. So it’s like, why, but the when you when you come down to and you look at the architecture, it was still taking resources, it still took capital to maintain it still took management structure people to manage it from we’re talking about coffee and your time talking about sourcing coffee that is huge. I mean, so all of that was still an engine and needed to be supported, right? That no longer fit into the architecture of what we were trying to do from a company which was invest in high growth opportunities, right and making knees and scaling these categories to include more of the products and to take advantage of more of those internal internal strategies for these brands, like when we talked about Downy and being able to take Downy and then put it in all these other different subcategories Old Spice the same way, Ole the same way. Right. So it’s like, that’s where we wanted to put the focus. Because what happened when we let go is it created a ton of opportunity. It released money, I release, people release financial burden. And now we could take all of that and invest it into something that we know will have more growth opportunity to. It’s probably one of the hardest decisions that I saw people have to make. And I wasn’t even in the rooms where those decisions were being made. So I have no insight or knowledge whatsoever. But I know I was part of Folgers when it was divested. And so I understand the decisions that went into it. And so I think you know, as you think about those things, part of leading a business is having to make the hard decisions, right? Brand architecture is a tool to help you make those decisions. It helps you be thoughtful helps you be disciplined.

April Martini 42:09
Yeah, I think that’s a great example. Also you guys with the pet food items, and you can do that I remember the same we bought

Anne Candido 42:14
that messed it up and then sold it. I mean, that was clearly not like a really good strategic goal. We also got rid of Pharma. Yes, for you know, very similar reason. Pet Food was one of the funnest brands to be on because you could bring your dog to work and it didn’t have as many rules and stuff. We couldn’t grow the brand. Yeah, yeah. But I mean, I think that you

April Martini 42:33
know, what you said right there is really important too is like, I view this a lot is like staying in your lane, you look at the P&Gs or the Unilevers you know of the world and you think we’re there a behemoth, they should be able to do everything in every category. And that’s just such an oversimplification to what actually goes on behind the scenes, which is another reason why this brand architecture approach is so important. It’s that discipline.

Anne Candido 42:58
And I would say P&G is probably one of the most biggest innovators have brand architecture for them. Yes. 100%. So if you don’t think we know what we’re talking about.

April Martini 43:07
All right. Fine point on that one. The third and final in the trenches, you mentioned, the structure can help decided new brands fit how so? And I’m gonna give you this one.

Anne Candido 43:18
Yeah. So there is opportunity here. And I just going to mention that in my last example, is that when you’re thinking about your architecture, it does now create opportunity. So a lot of people think that it’s limiting, but no, it actually creates opportunity, because now you can think, okay, how do I take this brain architecture? And how do I put it here, if I want to put it here because I want this consumer or I want to generate more revenue here. So as we said, not only does it help you clean house, but it helps you to see what other areas you might want to go into and how you might fit and be able to really assess if it’s going to make sense. How hard is it going to be? How much work is it going to take? How much money is it going to take? And I think a lot of people oversimplify this, right. And this is a problem because they see Warren Buffett, for example, in there, like Warren Buffett has like Dairy Queen, and he has like, you know, all this little bit like it just it’s like looks like a hodgepodge of just random companies he put together, I can totally guarantee you it’s not a hodgepodge of companies he put together as if his brain architecture says a process, right, he looks for a certain set of process, a certain mindset, a certain opportunity for growth. And that’s what he buys into. It’s like a checklist almost for him. Exactly. And then he scales that across so he that’s where he drives his efficiencies and scale. So those aren’t arbitrary decisions that he’s made. It’s actual intentional decisions he’s made for where he can scale his process, his mindset. That’s one way of looking at it. I’ll gonna say something about my husband’s company, right. So while I won’t, I will leave names out but you’re gonna be able to figure it out if you just google it. But anyway, so my husband works for a company that does industrial sifting equipment right? So, those things that actually help the beads, all the dye only beads, the ensembles all be the same size so that he creates the screens and stuff like that, that the machines that help that all be the same size. His parent company, their primary business is caskets. There is absolutely zero synergy. And

April Martini 45:20
I know that yes shocked me. I did not know that. Yes. Okay. Anyway,

Anne Candido 45:23
no synergies whatsoever just look like a good business opportunity. And so let’s acquire the company and add revenue to our bottom line. Oh, my The problem is when they start cross pollinating leadership, people, man, the mentality is totally different. The approach is totally different. You kind of have to understand a little bit about manufacturing. And it’s a mess in a lot of respects. Because you lack that brand architecture that holds it all together. They’re very just disparate companies, but they try to treat them as one which doesn’t work. Again, cultures are different. Everything’s different. It’s the same thing that you run into trouble with when you try to globalize a brand. Oh, my Oh, yeah. I mean, that was a big exercise at P&G. I think we call it part one, or whatever we’re gonna try to put was going to be like, it was like, we’re trying to globalize the bottle like a bottle across the whole globe. And then but what we realized is, people’s showers are different sizes. And people’s like, the shelf sets are different. So you know, when you get to it’s like, you can’t globalize something that when cultures in the environments, restrict what your guidelines are. So these are things that you need to really consider when you’re thinking about how you’re going to add on, but there is a lot of opportunity there to then sees once you can be very disciplined about them.

April Martini 46:47
Yeah, I think that that is all so right. And I think that, you know, when you said that thing about it can be it can feel limiting, it really can. But the way that I look at it is it’s sort of a two part thing. The reason that people end up in bad situations oftentimes is because they haven’t done their brand architecture to the right of the caskets and the sifting, right. So what I often see is you come in, you clean it all up, you clean house, right, and you set the framework, and then it almost becomes more freeing to make the more fun decisions on the other side. And so that’s where I feel like it does become a tremendous opportunity. Because you can assess a lot of different brands or offerings or innovations or things that you want to go and do. And it makes the decision making easier and faster, because you have something to work against. So you don’t lose the energy associated with making those decisions. And you’re not arbitrarily deciding one way or another. It’s like, all right, like I almost think about it a little bit like Shark Tank, right? Where it’s like, alright, you have the framework built, and you’re like, alright, so am I going to add it or not? I’m going to add it or not. And you can almost like we said the thing about Warren Buffett in the checklist, it almost becomes that easy. Where you’re like, well, it has to have five sorry, that’s not going to work. Oh, five of five, that’s a slam dunk. Let’s do it. And so I think it can breathe new life and energy into organizations that really do get this right, not to mention all of the positive business implications that happen like financial growth and scale and all of those different things that can go on. Yep, agree. All right. So our third and final segment is where we highlight companies or brands that may or may not be using their marketing smarts and may or may not have anything to do with today’s episode. And this one does not. Because it was a little bit of a heavy one, I decided to go with a lighter, although negative example, for getting smart’s moments. So we all know about fast fashion. And we all know about these ads that get served up to us. And a lot of them to me, because I’m always clicking on things I probably shouldn’t not within Facebook and others. So I get a lot of these apps to buy whatever the latest thing is. And for me, I have a really hard time spending a bunch of money on something that I can look at and say that’s this season’s fashion, it’s not going to be next, although I want to be relevant, right? So I’ve done my fair share of mistakes over the years as far as purchase goes, whatever. But I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better at assessing. Is it going to be quality enough to hold up for the season? Or is it not so mad at myself for this purchase, but also real mad at the company? So I don’t even know how to say it. It’s the parent company is unzye. I don’t know, the way it was served up was not that company. Right? So just first and foremost. So I got duped. All right, cool, fair, whatever. So I ordered this sweatshirt and it looks super cute in the ad. And actually the reviews were fairly good about the quality of what came. So I felt like okay, I’ll give it a shot. It was served up multiple times. I kind of hedged hedged, hedged, waited until there was some discount but what I ended up paying for this was $59.99 I right, which is not enough. Yeah, which is not a small amount of money, especially when we think about stuff like Amazon Basics, which you can get stuff for half of that. And actually I’ve had, I’ve had mixed results. But lately, it’s been more positive than not. And again, I’m buying something that I want to wear for the season. So this sweatshirt shows up, and I didn’t even take it out of the plastic sleeve. And I already knew that it was not anywhere near what was promised from a quality perspective. So that just annoyed me, right? So then it took me an impossible amount of time to find how to go about even trying to get a refund and to send it back. Right. So now I’m just like, piping man. So I finally find it. And I reach out. And of course, they tried to say there’s no returns, I’m rolling my eyes and like, I’ve been through this enough to know that you can’t actually do that. Right? Like, I mean, you can, but how far am I going to argue, right? So I actually got a pretty quick response. But this is where I really started to become angry. And because this is just such a bad business. And we’ve given some of these examples before and this is why I want to highlight this is I never got a full refund, first of all, but the tactics were ridiculous. So first, I got a note back that said, Sorry, you’re unhappy. If we give you five US dollars, will you keep it five US dollars? Should have been your first trigger? Yeah. And I was like, Oh, great, because it was positioned as being here. Yeah, satellite, is it when he says solar source from South Carolina or whatever? I’m like, okay, that’s annoying. I wrote back, I was like, No, I want to return it. How about 10 US dollars. And then I got a strong arm that was like, I mean, if you return it, you’re gonna pay as much as it’s worth and shipping because we’re in Dubai. So then I’m like, Oh, cool. So I was duped from that standpoint, too. Right. So then I wrote again, and I was like, I just want to return it. I don’t care. What is the shipping? No answer. And you’re like, how about 15? US dollars. So at this point, I just was like, Screw it. Right. So I was like, give me the money, you know, how am I gonna get my money back? Whatever. But I just feel like this brand has hopefully some karma coming to it. Yes, I’m mad at myself for being duped. But I do think that there are good learnings here. Right? So it seems like a stupid example. But I feel like there’s so many options out there today. And there are plenty of businesses in this space doing it right and I just cannot get on board are understand ones that feel like they don’t care. They’re just looking to make a quick buck. They’re not going to get the returned consumers. They’re gonna have people like me out there talking about them that are just mad. And I’m sure there’s some way that this may be working for them. But from a branding perspective, it like physically makes me hurt. Because I’m like, What is the point of putting something out there that says it’s it’s based here that talks about the quality? Like, why go to that much work for what I call evil, as opposed to just I mean, even if they just nipped it in the bud at the point when I said I wasn’t happy, and let me send it back. And even if I had to pay the shipping, I probably would have been fine with that. That’s happened before. But instead now I’m in this place where I’m just annoyed by the entire thing and just mad that this stuff exists out there. So there you go.

Anne Candido 53:11
Well, I got duped to remember the little ring game. Yes. Yeah. Yes. He’s a piece of garbage that arrived. Yeah, that wasn’t even look remotely like the washers, and then all the reviews, right? I kind of like it’s kind of funny that this brands called on z because I call these the unbranded, right, because they’re not real brands. They’re front brands. And this is why we say a logo does not make a brand. Yep. And this is how a lot of people, you know, even smart people sometimes kind of fall for this because people are getting more sophisticated and creating these quote unquote brands or toll fronts for these businesses that they’re running out of Dubai and China, which I love Tim Ferriss, but it’s the Tim Ferriss way of like you import something and you drop ship it and you put a premium on on it and you sell it here, a lot of people make good money off of it. That’s why their margin was probably 90%, which is why they they can offer you $15 back without having to go through all the effort of actually taking it back. Yep. Because they just ate into their margins a little bit. Okay, so first, this person isn’t happy. That’s okay. Yeah, but they don’t really care about keeping you as a customer. Yeah, they just got their one purchase. And that’s all they care. So they’ll move on to the next thing that they’re gonna call whatever they’re gonna call it and do it again. Yeah, I guess it’s a little bit of a public service announcement. Yeah, that’s kind

April Martini 54:27
of I mean, that’s sort of what Yeah, so I think that’s a good way to put it where I was just like, I just, it just irritates me. And so yes, I would give the watch out. Yes. Just be careful. Yes. Yes. And, you know, have beef with them now. So I was like, I’m going to use the podcast for that anyway.

Anne Candido 54:45
Our own personal venting mechanism. Yes. But no, I mean, yeah, we won’t matter today that you say someone’s gonna come find us.

April Martini 54:51
That’s true. All right. So just to recap how brand architecture empowers sub brands, number one, it gives each sub brand a home under the master brands. Each one knows their place related to that master brand and the other sub brands in the portfolio. Number two, it gives each sub brand its own visual and verbal toolkit for strategy creation. These elements allow for consistent, united, visual and verbal communications that borrow from the master brand but let each sub brand live individually. Number three unites the sub brands and create success criteria the goals become larger than each sub brand. And then each sub brand feels connected to the overall master brand and business goals. And finally, number four, it allows for cross promotion and leveraging the collective impact of the sub brands. When the sub brands understand the bigger picture and how they can help each other cross pollination becomes natural. And with that, we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now go show off your Marketing Smarts!