By Fran Johnson
30/03/2021
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What is a house of brands?

A house of brands is the term given to a brand architecture strategy where the companies brands feel very different to each other. It is usually used by corporations that cover multiple industries and are product focussed. The sub brands become the primary brand to their users. Each sub brand will have its own brand values, audience and look and feel. Often the main brand gets less attention and marketing spend, with the focus being on the front line brands.

Unpacking the definition

The easiest way to understand a house of brands model is to look at examples of the main players.

P&G as a house of brands

Together with Unilever, P&G is an example that is used heavily when speaking about a house of brands approach. The brands operate like separate companies (from a brand perspective at least). Each brand can focus on themselves – establishing the right tone of voice, taking risks and creating their own visual language.

Each brand is therefore easier to sell to another company giving the main corporation a huge degree of flexibility.

This approach is however, expensive! Without being able to consolidate the investment into the master brand the resources needed for marketing and communication are huge.

House of brands example P&G

Alphabet as a house of brands

Alphabet own a number of brands including Nest, Calico, YouTube and of course Google. The brands cover a number of industries including health and tech. The parent company Alphabet isn’t consumer facing, and therefore very little resource will go into ensuring the brand is relatable and communicates well to its audience.

Alphabet as an example is less clear cut, in that it operates with a house of brands model. Whereas Google operates a branded house model. But rarely will you find a straightforward illustration – brand architecture can be a complex beast!

The introduction of the Alphabet brand has meant the strain has been taken off Google. Alphabet can acquire new ventures without risking Google’s reputation. A house of brands approach means the companies can make investment decisions on an individual basis rather than any acquisitions needing to fit into an existing structure.

House of brands example Alphabet

 

Interested in brand architecture? We’ve also written a blog post on what a branded house is.

What is a branded house?

The branded house approach to brand architecture is where all the sub brands take the look and feel from the master brand. Examples include FedEx and to some degree, Microsoft.

Fran Johnson - 11/02/2021
What is brand architecture?

Brand architecture is a term used when structuring sub brands - how the sub brands relate to one another and to the master brand.

Fran Johnson - 02/04/2019
Branding to span sectors

Looking at Easyjet and Virgin, companies that span into a number of different sectors, to identify what strategies worked.

Fran Johnson - 21/10/2014
Content driven brands

A number of brands that are content driven have taken a flexible approach to branding. We look at AOL and Google to see what we can learn.

Fran Johnson - 02/07/2014