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Brand & package design intelligence for CPG food brand performance.


Brand architecture considerations when building a new CPG food brand

By Vanessa Doll

When launching a new CPG food brand, choosing the appropriate brand architecture gives your portfolio room for growth while creating impact for a singular brand here and now. 

The strategic approach to organizing and presenting a portfolio of products or sub-brands should be considered in the first phase of brand creation. It informs naming and even the subjects of category/competitive analyses. 

The Branded House

Here, all products and services live under one single, cohesive brand. Also known as a “monolithic brand strategy,” the branded house model creates a comprehensive brand image in consumers’ minds. From visual identity to messaging, each offering ladders up to a singular brand presence. This unity reinforces equity, credibility, and recognition. It can help build trust, offering ways to add to the portfolio over time with less barrier to entry. 

Tillamook is a successfully branded house because its offerings are dairy-based, and they diligently maintain a certain level of quality. A branded house may not be for you if you are considering multiple categories or lack confidence in your ability to QA through suppliers. 

House of Brands 

Opposite the branded house in CPG brand architecture is the “house of brands,” used more frequently by companies with diverse products or sub-brands, each with a distinct brand identity. Another term for this approach is “pluralistic brand strategy;” it involves focusing on catering to different market segments or fulfilling specific consumer needs.

The downside to a house of brands is that managing them can be resource-intensive. Each brand must succeed independently, so growing and developing a line of myriad products can be challenging. 


Sometimes, there is a way to have the best of both worlds. If the parent brand has established a trusted reputation, you can introduce a new product with its “endorsement” while standing primarily on its own. 

Often called “sub-branding,” in an endorser strategy, companies can balance individual brands’ autonomy and the parent brand’s overarching influence. This approach works well when the offerings within the portfolio are related but still have unique characteristics or speak to different consumer segments. 


Less seen, though beginning to gain traction in brand architecture, is the “hybrid” approach. It combines elements from all three strategies and addresses specific complexities within a company’s brand portfolio, especially varying consumer segmentation. Chobani’s Gimmies are a competitive response to “Go-gurt” and other kids-specific products. Chobani is not a child’s brand, but its product has an obvious opportunity to place in the space. In this instance, Chobani becomes the endorser because the name and design need to be more “kid-centric” to compete directly.

A company might use a hybrid approach by having a solid primary brand identity that represents its core product line but create sub-brands, each with its own distinct brand identity, where necessary. The hybrid is a viable architecture for companies with diverse offerings under one corporate umbrella or a universal base product that could play in many different spaces.

However, implementing a hybrid brand architecture can be complex and requires careful strategic planning. The challenge lies in maintaining clarity and avoiding consumer confusion while managing the interplay between the different brand elements. 

When launching a new brand or product, define your vision before you decide upon the most appropriate brand architecture for your portfolio. If there is potential for your company to grow into different categories, then consider that now. The more you can plan for growth, the more likely you will see it. 

If you are undergoing a line extension or refresh and thinking now might be the time to reconstitute your brand architecture, conduct an equity study. More on that in this article.

Featured image by Yaroslav Danylchenko.

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