Think about a brand—maybe a big corporation—that has a hierarchy of other brands and services. Maybe you’re thinking about Amazon which has Prime Video, Audible, and Amazon Echo. Or maybe P&G which owns Gillette, Pampers, Tide, Cascade, and Old Spice. Unilever owns everything from Ben & Jerry’s and Skippy, to Lipton and Dove.
While all of these corporations sell different products and services, what they all have in common is a clear brand hierarchy. Brand hierarchy is a structure that has a top-level parent company or corporate brand, a secondary level of family brands, and, below that, individual brands.
Brand hierarchy isn’t only reserved for large corporations. Any organization that is comprised of multiple brands or services can develop a clear structure, and they should. A lack of organization and intention can undermine business planning and confuse buyers. By clearly defining how your brands and products differentiate and relate to each other, you’re able to sell them more effectively.
Developing a multi-brand organization strategy
Innovative Ergonomic Solutions (IES) is another example of a parent company that acquired multiple brands. IES and its portfolio of brands provide ergonomic workspace solutions through various products, markets, and channels.
The leadership team at IES came to ddm to help them develop a brand hierarchy. The challenge was how to organize the brands with a clearly defined go-to-market strategy and optimize each brand’s potential while not cannibalizing market share.
Addressing market confusion
IES was growing rapidly and capitalizing on opportunities and acquisitions in the contract office market. The company first acquired Ergotech, another ergonomic workplace solutions company selling primarily through distribution and Amazon. Next, HAT Contract, an established provider of height adjustable tables and related products for the contract office market. Then SiS Ergo, a design/manufacturer of ergonomic office furniture based in Denmark. And finally, CompuCaddy, a mobile cart manufacturer selling direct to B2B customers in the healthcare and education markets.
But without a clear brand hierarchy in place, the market was getting confused. At the time, IES was doing business as Innovative Office Products (IOP) but had the website URL of innovativeworkspacesolutions.com. Additionally, IOP was serving customers in multiple channels as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and a design/manufacturer of both point-of-sale (POS) and contract office products.
With the explosion of growth and acquisition of different product lines and market segments, the company needed clarity and an organization structure.
Developing a channel strategy
Through collaborative strategy sessions with IES marketing leadership, we evaluated scenarios for optimizing sales potential for each brand, creating opportunities for cross-brand selling of products, and providing brand clarity in the market. We determined the best option was a channel strategy.
This meant establishing IES as the overarching corporate entity with subordinate companies organized by primary sales channels. Innovative Ergonomic Solutions made sense as the umbrella corporate entity because ergonomic workspace solutions are the common thread between each of its subsidiary brands.
HAT Contract, SiS Ergo, and IOP’s contract office business were assembled under a new brand, HAT Collective. IOP was renamed Innovative Design Works to better align with its design/manufacture focus. Ergotech was given a brand refresh and direction to continue servicing the distribution channel. CompuCaddy products are now sold across the different brand sales platforms while its sales organization remains concentrated on B2B channels in the healthcare and education markets.
This channel strategy not only provides structure for the current IES portfolio of brands, but also for any future acquisitions.
Merging three brands into one
Let’s dive into the contract office family of brands that IES named HAT Collective. After establishing the new brand strategy, three companies—HAT Contract, SiS Ergo, and the contract office business of IOP—fell within a single brand.
Each brand brought unique attributes and customer perceptions. This new entity needed to leverage those positive attributes and perceptions but with a new elevated aesthetic. This required a ground-up approach to verbal and visual expression.
Working closely with our client team, we identified and articulated HAT Collective’s new mission, “empowering people to work their way.” We highlighted the brand’s mission to improve employee health, satisfaction, productivity, and engagement through a sophisticated, flexible range of workplace solutions. From this foundation, we developed messaging and a visual voice.
Taking inspiration from SiS Ergo’s Danish design aesthetic, we took a clean, warm, design-forward approach to all HAT Collective brand visuals, from logo design and typography, to product renderings and advertising creative. With a solid creative direction, we produced all necessary marketing tools needed to launch the new brand—including a new website, library of images, launch campaign, and social media content. We also established brand guidelines and developed identity and product collateral templates for IES’ internal team to implement.
Through discovery, analysis, and strategy; working shoulder-to-shoulder with the IES marketing team ensured alignment at every step of the process and the clear brand architecture IES was looking for.
IES is now defined as a collection of preferred workspace solutions companies committed to growth, excellence, and leaving a lasting impact on the global landscape of ergonomics. The diverse collection of products underneath the IES umbrella service a range of industries and methods of sale.
With thoughtful design and implementation, IES’s family of brands now has new or refreshed identities that are supported by websites, collateral, advertising, and other marketing tactics.
Looking to organize your family of brands?
Whether you’re starting from scratch, reworking a legacy brand, organizing a family of brands or lines of products, ddm has the strategic and design horsepower to assist you in developing an effective brand hierarchy and market strategy.