Branding Architecture: Cue Alphabet

Building a Brand-pire

Each company has a unique brand that describes its internal values, relationships with customers and products and services.  The brand is what sets one company apart from another. However, some companies may not be as independent as you may think. You wouldn’t necessarily associate Crest and Duracell as having the same brand, because they don’t even sell the same products.  They are, however, connected through the “House of Brands” Proctor & Gamble.

The term “House of Brands” refers to one of three types of structures of brands within an organizational entity, also known as the brand architecture of an entity.

House of Brands

In this type of brand architecture, the “umbrella” brand has little or no impact on each of its sub-brands. Old Spice, Tide, Crest, Covergirl, Folgers, Duracell, Olay and Vicks are all separate companies with individual brand identities, yet they are all in the Procter & Gamble House of Brands.

Branded House

In this type of brand architecture, the company is the brand. The master brand is always identifiable and belongs to each extension of the company. FedEx, for example, is a master company its multiple extensions:  FedEx Freight, FedEx Express, FedEx Custom Critical, FedEx Ground, FedEx Trade Networks, FedEx Kinko’s and FedEx Supply Chain Services.

House Blend

In this type of architecture, the sub-brands gain credibility because of the parent brand. Google, a very successful search engine, continued its credibility with Gmail, Calendar and Maps, and acquired smaller tech companies Blogger, Picasa and YouTube. (1)

That was the case until August 10, 2015, when Google unveiled Alphabet.

Cue Alphabet

Over the last ten years, the branded house structure has been the trend, with companies like Apple, IBM and GE creating extensions of the master brand. Google has always been an “unconventional” company, as Larry Page described the company in the original founder’s letter, and this new restructuring is definitely a game changer. Google, the fifth largest company in the world, is doing the complete opposite by adopting the house of brands structure.

Alphabet CEO Larry Page gave some insight into the new parent company:

“We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google Search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!”

This new house of brands model will allow Alphabet to acquire even more companies than the 180 companies Google has already acquired. Rather than forcing the acquired companies to adopt the Google brand, the house of brands structure allows each company to remain unique and encourages innovation in all types of industries. (2)

Article 1: What is Brand Architecture

Article 2: Why it doesn’t matter if people think ‘Alphabet’ is a good brand name or not