20 Nov 2017
Taming Brand Portfolio Chaos
A mix of products, services, or businesses will often exist as a portfolio of brands under the umbrella of a larger company or brand. Likely, each brand will function with its own trademarks, branded elements, etc, but will exist as a “portfolio.”
A brand portfolio is used, for management, operational, and marketing purposes, to present and communicate these entities in an organized manner. Some great examples of brand portfolios are Alphabet, Kellogg, and Hilton Worldwide.
These are perfect examples where brands that exist within the portfolio are well organized. However, this isn’t always the case. There are times where brands come together to form a portfolio that seems chaotic at best. This could be from a merger, an acquisition, or an oversight on long-term planning.
What Happens With Brand Chaos and Why
If you’re managing a brand portfolio mix that seems chaotic, you may also find a mix of challenges alongside of it:
- Confusion within internal teams or with customer base
- Branding initiatives spread too thin
- Little resources to focus on maximizing high-priority brands
- Misalignment between architecture and business strategy
As mentioned, this can happen for several different reasons. Here are some specifics:
- Products are seen as a commodity by leadership and team(s)
- Over cross-selling or up-selling between brands
- Acquisition of eclectic brands into a pre-existing portfolio
- Over-focus on profitability with funding
What To Do About It
In order to bring clarity to a chaotic brand portfolio, it makes sense to assess your suite of brands. This will bring to light some important considerations that’ll help weigh in on your best course of action.
Conducting a brand portfolio assessment helps to understand a current state of each brand, so you know what brands to keep as is, rearrange, or remove to maintain a strong portfolio.
Assessing a brand portfolio means reviewing tangible and intangible aspects of each brand. This brings order and focus to the more weightier brands within your portfolio that you may want to align with your resources.
There are a few important things to consider when assessing your brand portfolio:
Strategic alignment is when your team knows about your organization’s values and vision, are passionate about them, and make decisions on them accordingly.
Which brands are in alignment with the core vision and business strategy? Within an eclectic portfolio of unrelated brands, is there a driving force from Leadership to consider? If there is a master brand, are there values, culture, messaging, etc. to consider as a driving force for the core business?
Perceived value is the worth that a product or service has in the mind of the consumer.
Are there brands in your portfolio that have a higher value or market share? Do these brands have high customer engagement, high brand loyalty, and high revenue generation?
Brand positioning is the space that a product or service lives that is different from its competitors in the marketplace.
Are there brands in your portfolio that are meeting a unique need for your customers, or completely disrupting a market, that could lead to high growth potential? If there are brands in your portfolio that are competing in the same space, is there potential to combine them for higher growth potential?
Profitability means that your brand has gained high market share and equity that yields profit or financial gain in comparison to other brands in your portfolio.
Which brands are currently the most profitable? Is it important to maintain focus of resources to the brands that are generating the most revenue, or is it worth the resources to build the brands that aren’t?
Finally, there is the reality of what’s feasible and what isn’t. It will be an investment of resources to rearrange or remove brands from your portfolio mix. This will greatly depend on multiple considerations, including buy-in from stakeholders and/or shareholders, leadership attachment, or other factors.
What is feasible, in terms of the dynamics of all factors considered, to be able to rearrange or remove brands within your portfolio mix?
Weighing The Balance
Maintaining a strong brand portfolio means providing a strong foundation for the family of brands within your company.
In order to gain clarity around chaos, there needs to be an awareness and recognition that your brand portfolio mix doesn’t make sense operationally, management-wise, or marketing-wise. There needs to be a realistic evaluation of where your “sweet spot” is for the architecture of those brands being scrutinized.
Choosing to rearrange or remove brands from a portfolio is a large investment of time and resources, but could mean huge gains market share and undermining brand equity long-term if you are smart about your brand structure and strategy.
It’s important to mention that if you’re considering assessing the value of brands to prepare for insolvency, liquidation, merger, or acquisition, there are standards put into place for conducting a formal brand valuation.
Now it’s your turn: What have been some important considerations for assessing your brand portfolio?
I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and feedback in the comments below.