The Art of Strategic Brand Architecture

The Art of Brand Architecture

Brand Architecture: Building the Bridge Between Business Strategy and Brand Identity

Brands come in many shapes and sizes. The choices that business leaders and brand professionals make about when to develop a new brand, when to introduce sub-brands, or if it’s time to let an existing brand rest in peace, are all critical business decisions. This article aims to shed light on the nature of these decisions, the strategic inputs, and complex implications inherent in brand architecture. For those new to this concept, or simply seeking a refresher, we have also published an introductory article, "Understanding Brand Architecture: A beginner's guide", which covers the fundamentals, the archetypal brand architecture models, terms like master brand and branded house, and what these mean in the context of a brand's visual identity system. But for this article, let’s dive into the strategic thinking behind a sound brand plan.

Effective Relationships: The Strategic Imperative of Any Brand Architecture

Well before any logos are crafted, your brand architecture provides a strategic blueprint that defines the relationships you are seeking to create and nurture across your organisation, its portfolio, your market, or your community. Effective brand architecture not only clarifies brand hierarchies for consumers but also influences how customers perceive and interact with you. It should be guided by your business strategy, but it can also inform business decisions and strategies, helping to identify opportunities for growth.

We've selected three case studies below that demonstrate how, based on each organisations unique opportunities and challenges, Hive has been able to develop and deliver highly effective brand architecture solutions. Spanning three decades, these diverse case studies illustrate that there is no right or wrong when it comes to brand architecture; there is only a good fit and a bad fit for your current circumstances and your future goals.

How Hive Helped Henley Build Its Reputation with a House of Brands Strategy

Back in the late '90s, Henley was growing rapidly—almost too rapidly at times—and the resulting growing pains led to some isolated operational issues that presented reputational challenges to the firm. In a strategic pivot, Henley leaned into a 'house of brands' strategy and developed a range of brands that enabled customers to access the buying power and volume discounts they expected from Henley, while providing believable evidence across core drivers including value, quality, and choice.

The brand architecture worked—hard. Henley went on to achieve significant growth (boosting starts by up to 88% year-on-year), combining the new 'house of brands' architecture and delivering it within a new 'World of Homes' concept. For the next decade, this brand strategy enabled Henley to market a range of products that appealed to defined customer profiles from entry-level first home buyers to experienced, high-end third home buyers. In 2009, Sumitomo Forestry took a 50 percent stake in Henley Properties in a deal reported to value the business at over AU$1 billion.



For over a decade, Hive helped the team at Henley Properties Group market a house of brands, that not only delivered short-term growth but ultimately reinforced the reputation of the parent brand.


How Hive Helped the University of Melbourne Enrol in a Master Brand Strategy to Protect Its Most Valuable Asset

The University of Melbourne recognised that its brand is its most valuable asset, essential for attracting students, staff, business partners, and collaborators. Despite its strong brand equity, the university's fragmented operational structure had led to inconsistent brand management, undermining its ability to present a unified market presence. To address this, Melbourne engaged Hive to develop and implement a master brand strategy that would encompass the entire university. This complex ecosystem includes faculties, departments, institutes, clinics, co-brands, and sub-brands that interact with diverse academic and non-academic audiences.

Hive's task was to unify the university's branding to enhance consistency and strengthen recognition across all audiences. This included shifting to a master-brand strategy, refreshing the existing brand identity for digital and traditional platforms, eliminating conflicting sub-brands, and introducing a governance strategy to maintain brand integrity.

Currently, the University of Melbourne holds the top rank in Australia according to the Times Higher Education Global Rankings and is 34th worldwide. The master brand strategy effectively ties together its 52,712 students, over 470,000 alumni, 9,809 staff, and A$672 million in research funding under a single, cohesive brand identity.



Hive collaborated with the University of Melbourne to develop a structured approach to brand attribution and entity identification within a new master brand identity system designed to enhance brand unity and global recognition.


How Hive Helped Village Cinemas Put the Spotlight on Diverse Cinema Experiences with an Endorsed House of Brands

Village Cinemas leads the market with a variety of unique movie experiences tailored to meet the needs of specific audiences and occasions. The brand architecture has traditionally employed a hybrid model—a House of Brands with a level of parent brand endorsement. While some sub-brands share similarities, the overall global brand system lacked depth.

Hive recently collaborated with Village Cinemas to conduct a comprehensive review of the brand from top to bottom. This process was informed by an in-depth analysis of the current state and included consideration of alternative models and future opportunities. We explored a range of questions, from overall brand recognition to brand attribution in sub-brand materials, and from building awareness of unique selling propositions to addressing practical implications such as production efficiency.

The outcome of this consultation was a clear blueprint for a refreshed Village Cinemas brand. The updated brand architecture not only maintained but also rationalised the House of Brands model. It strengthened the parent brand endorsement and enhanced the depth of the parent brand with a distinctive yet flexible visual identity system.

Building on this blueprint, Hive set out to construct a bold vision for what the new brand creative would become. This evolution was anchored by refined brand positioning and a new brand narrative that injected a surge of energy and vibrancy. Hive developed a distinctive graphic device derived from the Village Cinemas logo, building on the equity already established. The "V" shapes were revitalised with vibrant colours and dynamic motion design.

You can learn more about the Village Cinemas Brand Evolution here and see how we delivered on this big vision for a brand synonymous with the big screen.



Hive worked with Village Cinemas to build a big vision for a brand all about the big screen. By creating a system that aligns with the parent brand, the sub-brands can become the stars of the show.   Check out the project here.


How Hive’s Approach to Brand Architecture Can Provide a Solid Foundation for Your Business Strategy

Selecting a brand architecture model is a strategic choice crucial for aligning your brand identity with your business goals. However, it can be an overwhelming decision without the right tools. Determining the most suitable brand architecture model requires an in-depth analysis of your offerings, market dynamics, and customer needs.

Hive's proven brand plan methodology simplifies this process through facilitation of stakeholder workshops and comprehensive brand audits. Our approach guides businesses towards a brand architecture that not only supports their strategic objectives but also reflects their unique values and ambitions.

Partner with Hive to develop a brand architecture strategy that resonates with your business objectives and maximises your competitive potential. Contact us for a consultation, and let's build a future where your brand thrives.



Wayne’s experience spans three decades and multiple disciplines across brand, advertising and communication design. A traditionally trained graphic designer with a passion for problem solving and business, Wayne founded Hive in 1995 and now spearheads our strategic efforts with an emphasis on empathy and clarity of purpose. Away from the office Wayne enjoys family life (and the odd round of golf) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.


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