Choosing between a branded house and a house of brands

This is a longer post, but Barnabas is making an important brand strategy decision. This is a good time for research and discussion.

By defining a brand message (and voice), Barnabas is managing its brand message. It will need a framework for future branding decisions to keep its brand consistent. This is strategic brand management, and it’s a very wise decision for any organization, large or small.

Branding models fall under two basic concepts: A house of brands and a branded house. Sometimes these concepts are called brand architecture.

A house of brands is one master brand with many individually branded businesses. The article above mentioned Proctor & Gamble. Let’s look at their house:

A house of brands is common in agricultural and food businesses — or places where separating the two are important.

A house of brands requires more management. It also requires more budget — you cannot leverage the brands together.

Branded houses use just one brand and extends that brand outward. Let’s go back to our reference article. FedEx has one corporate brand:

Branded houses are more common for nonprofits and civic institutions that have limited budgets and need to make their brands as consistent as possible.

I think the consensus leans toward a a branded house, and, as an advisor, I think this would be a wise choice. That may seem like a natural decision, but it’s not the decision. It’s the plan that’s important.

Brand strategy requires a coordinated roll-out from all members of the organization, but that doesn’t mean your plan has to be overwhelming. It should be manageable, common-sense and staged.

Transitioning to a branded house

Two important ideas for any branding changes for New to You:

Consistency — Your brand needs to be consistent. You have limited budget and people have limited time. Let’s make it as clear as possible.

Timing — Branding requires communication. We need to understand who we need to talk to about any brand changes, what we need to tell them and when we need to tell them.

Here are some key things to consider:

Who needs to know about this change?

Small branding changes can lead to dissension and hurt feelings even in healthy organizations. Brands have different meanings to different people, so we should not underestimate the people’s relationship with our brand. I will spend some time on these issues so we do not accidentally miss an important piece of this strategic discussion.


  • What partners need to be made aware of this change?

  • How do they feel about it?

  • How do people learn about our brand?

Key Steps:

  • Explain our strategy and its purpose

  • List groups we need to include in this discussion — team members, loyal customers

  • List groups we need to inform — partners, media

  • Consider any real estate, financial or other legal obligations

How will we communicate this change?

I would strongly encourage a coordinated “get the message out” campaign. Fernandina Beach is still a small island, and, quite frankly, a lot of your marketing in this area will be groundwork. How can you coordinate and leverage these efforts to be most efficient?

We are considering our presences in two areas: Western Nassau County and Duval County. How should we communicate this change to them — and when? The answer may not be no, but perhaps this goes into our efficiency.


  • Where is our brand currently online?

  • Where is our brand currently in public space?

  • What are the most effective ways to reach large groups of people?

  • How will we train team members on this change?

Key Steps:

  • Create a timeline for communicating the change

  • Discuss design needs

  • Delegate communication tasks by group

  • Coordinate listening sessions with key stakeholders

  • Create signage plan

  • Consider timing of strategic objectives

How do we document this change?

We’re not just solving the New to You problem, we’re making a decision about the type of brand we want to have. As a branded house, we must organize under one brand. What is the process for new projects that require branding? How do we discuss them?


  • How do we make brand decisions? Who is responsible for recording them?

  • What upcoming branding projects do we have?

  • How can we eliminate bottlenecks before they start?

Key Steps:

  • Change corporate documentation or handbooks

  • Create branding process to eliminate bottlenecks