There are five types of question:
Within groups, should the brand be situated at the corporate level (Accor), or at the divisional or business unit level, as with the Accor Casino or Accor Hotels brands, alongside the well-known product brands (Formule 1, Motel 6, Red Roof, Etap, Mercure, Novotel, Sofitel, Suite Hotels and so on)?
The term ‘branding strategy’ is used for decisions on:
First of all it is necessary to return to the key questions of brand architecture. Brand architecture is therefore a strategy: it may be ideal, or may lead to losses of efficiency, even to paralysis. In any case, what is expected is a coherent and well-founded response, even if it must change as competitive conditions evolve, rendering the previous choice of architecture null and void, or inefficient and too expensive. In fact, groups never cease to change their brand architecture, as the examples below illustrate.
In 1990, l’Oréal Paris, which had previously limited itself to endorsing its brand ranges worldwide (Elnett, Elsève, Studio Line, etc) by discreetly signing them, overturned this state of affairs, henceforth giving l’Oréal Paris a key role, under which all these so-called star brands had to fall into line, thereby displaying a community of values and communications style.
In the B2B sector, Henri Lachmann undertook the reverse change when he took over from Didier Pineau Valenciennes as managing director of the Schneider Electric Group. The latter was responsible for taking Schneider from a fragile status as ironmongers to that of a global high-tech company specializing in industrial electrical equipment, thanks to the acquisition of companies famous throughout the world (such as Merlin Gerin, Telemecanique, Yorkshire Switchgear, the Italian company Modicon and the American Square D).
Pineau Valenciennes’ goal was to achieve a unique corporate brand as quickly as possible, which would also play the part of a commercial brand: as its competitors Siemens, ABB, GE and Legrand and Hager do, Schneider Electric became the keystone of the whole offer. This involved the progressive disappearance of the specialized companies such as Telemécanique and Merlin Gerin, relegated to the rank of daughter brands, then to names of ranges.
Taking over management of the company, Lachmann had a different vision. It was necessary to do the opposite, revitalising the daughter brands to worldwide recognition, since they were the capital of the emerging company Schneider Electric. This resulted in an architecture with two brand levels (that of the corporate name and that of the daughter brands).
In 2005, all products manufactured anywhere in the world by Unilever, a leading group in mass-market products, had to carry the U logo in a highly visible and identifiable way. Until then the company had been hidden, or at least not identified on product packaging, except for the legally required mention of the legal name of the local subsidiary (such as ‘Lever Industan Ltd’ in India).
This emergence of the corporate brand is a fundamental tendency, but Unilever’s competitor, Procter & Gamble, still hides its identity on its packaging. It is true that the company has had to cope with a particularly persistent and unpleasant rumour (Kapferer, 1987).
In 2006, Veolia, the world leader in environmental services (water and waste treatment, energy, delegated public transport) decided to remove its three trade brands, through which it had communicated since their creation: Connex for transport, Dalkia for energy and Onyx for waste treatment, substituting them with the unifying name Veolia: so the brands became Veolia Transport, Veolia Energy and so on.
Clearly brand architecture is not a technical or tactical problem, but a strategic one. The choice of one leads to a commitment that lasts several years, and it may become a source of cost cutting or of expensive inefficiencies. What is under discussion is not a formal problem of graphic organisation, but the concomitant construction of turnover, growth and a real brand capital, a source of competitive advantage. Brand growth implies increased complexity, and therefore the risk of loss of image coherence, and of dilution of the brand capital.
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Strategic Brand Management Tutorial
Brand Equity In Question
Strategic Implications Of Branding
Brand And Business Building
From Private Labels To Store Brands
Brand Diversity: The Types Of Brands
The New Rules Of Brand Management
Brand Identity And Positioning
Launching The Brand
The Challenge Of Growth In Mature Markets
Sustaining A Brand Long Term
Adapting To The Market: Identity And Change
Growth Through Brand Extensions
Handling Name Changes And Brand Transfers
Brand Turnaround And Rejuvenation
Managing Global Brands
Financial Valuation And Accounting For Brands
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