Best Brand Strategy: Branded House or House of Brands?

By Elizabeth Harr

The goal of any brand strategy is to build a strong brand. That is because a strong brand—and an effective brand strategy—results in a higher return on investment for your marketing dollar. It is as true for professional services brands as it is for consumer products.

Our focus on professional services has informed a clear understanding of what makes a strong brand.

Brand Strength = Reputation x Visibility.

Whether developed intentionally or not, every professional services firm has a brand that stands for something. Our research indicates that high-growth professional services brands are three times more likely to have a strong differentiator – an easy-to-prove and relevant characteristic – as part of their brand strategy. That is because differentiation (or specialization) helps the firm generate leads and improve closing percentages.

As firms grow and mature, the management of their brand strategy can become a challenge. Why?

Because, as collective expertise grows, there is a tendency to diversify the firm’s service offering. To nurture and grow the profitability of those new services, firms often opt to brand each service. But, that might not be the best approach.

When it comes to brand strategy for a growing professional services firm, it may be better to go in the direction of a branded house rather than a house of brands. Let me explain.

Types of brand strategies

1. Branded house: In this model, the firm is the brand. Services and market sectors (or practice areas) are subsets of that primary brand and are not formally branded. Apple or Google are globally known for this model. Under Apple’s primary brand comes many subset brands: Mac, iTunes, iPhone.

Certainly, even smaller firms can successfully pull off this model. In all instances, the subset brands are recognized, but not to the extent that they overshadow or detract from the primary brand.

In professional services, the branded house approach is also known as a one-firm brand strategy. The firm has a single brand: logo mark, marketplace positioning and messaging. The subordinate service offerings share these brand elements but contain their own unique messaging points.

2. House of brands: In the second brand strategy model, the branding is focused on the subset brands. The primary brand gets little or no attention. Ever hear of a company called Newell? How about Rubbermaid, Sharpie or Irwin Tools? Newell is a good example of the house of brands strategy—Newell is the little known primary brand, under which come the well known subordinate brands listed above.

A house of brands approach requires significant investment in dedicated resources because each brand operates as its own company in terms of brand elements and messaging.

Benefits of the branded house strategy

In professional services, the branded house strategy is more commonly used. Let’s look at the reasons why.

A strong brand—one with both high visibility and strong reputation—requires careful nurturing. Our research shows that many professional services firms overlook brand visibility, and their brands are weaker for it.

In today’s marketplace, brands must be visible both online and offline.

Our research on this topic bears out the reputation-visibility imbalance. About Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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