A cohesive brand – house of brands or branded house?

I get asked a lot about the difference between a branded house and a house of brands, so I’m going to talk here about how to create a consistent brand when it has multiple products within it.

I’m using my rebrand project for Alison Jones and her trio of businesses – Alison Jones, Practical Inspiration Publishing and The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast – as an example.

House of brands, or branded house?

In a branded house strategy, a company uses a single, strong brand identity across all its products and services. The brand is the primary focus, and all offerings are closely tied to the same brand name and image. This approach aims to create a consistent and unified brand experience for customers. Think Apple, FedEx, GE. 

In a house of brands strategy, a company operates multiple distinct brands, each with its own unique identity and positioning. Each brand operates independently, targeting different market segments or offering diverse product lines. The emphasis is on creating strong individual brands, and there might be little or no overt connection between them at the corporate level. Unilever (Dove, Flora, Magnum) and P&G (Pampers, Old Spice, Gillette) are great models for this approach.

In the case of Alison’s businesses, all three serve the same community in complementary ways; coaching and support for prospective business book authors, publishing services for business books, and showcasing great business books and authors. Given this strong connection, making this a branded house is the right solution. I get to a decision on the right approach through workshops and guided conversation with a client, asking questions about who the products are for, if/how they interact and why the brand portfolio built out in the way it has. 

For Alison, I produced a mission to fully reflect the businesses after several years of growth, and articulated clear values and a vision for the future. A shared strategy – those foundational elements of mission, vision and values – is key to making a successful branded house.

The same, but different… Visual cohesion.

Alison’s new logotypes feature a symbol with 3 trapeziums, representing the businesses. The consistent use of this shape across all three entities helps establish a strong connection and reinforces their association as a family of brands to all users. While the businesses share the same typeface, symbol, tone of voice, mission, and values, they maintain individual focuses. To highlight their uniqueness, each business is assigned a different key colour within the brand palette, allowing them to express their distinct voices while remaining part of the larger group.

To sum it up, if your portfolio of products are all aimed at the same target market, then a branded house is likely the way to go – if the individual brands are targeting different groups (or, in some cases, have more brand equity than the parent brand) then a house of brands could be the solution. 

There’s also a hybrid option, but I’ll save that for when I’ve had a bit more caffeine.

If you think I can help you maximise the impact of your brand portfolio, please do get in touch.