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  • Writer's pictureStephen Cole

Branded House or House of Brands?

Updated: Feb 12, 2018

When building a corporate brand strategy from the ground up it is important to define how the brand will be communicated. Are you a branded house or a house of brands?

A branded house strategy develops at the top and cascades down through every aspect of the corporation. A perfect example is Apple. Whether you’ve bought their products, shopped in their stores or seen their advertising the brand is presented consistently. They ensure every interaction with them is consistent. Richard Branson’s Virgin brand works the same way, from airline to music and even space tourism, your experience with the brand is consistent.

A branded house approach ensures your brand maintains a level of consistency that is established at the top and which takes commitment from everyone who works there to communicate.

A house of brands, in comparison, creates individuality under a corporate umbrella. A great example is Unilever. You may know of this brand, but do you know it is the umbrella over brands such as Lipton, Hellman’s, Axe, Becel or Dove. Unilever is the corporation but they have created a house of brands to service the diverse products they produce. The success of each of these individual brands directly benefits the corporate brand.

This strategy allows each brand to target the proper customers while the integrity of the corporation comes from having a stable of great brands that represent it.

These two branding strategies can also be employed internally. The people who work at a corporation are the best ambassadors for the brand. As personal branding becomes something more people develop it is increasingly important that corporations understand the impact. Hiring someone who has built a strong and recognized personal brand can be an asset to the corporation.

In a corporation with a strong branded house it is important to find candidates who align with the overall strategy. In a rigid structure, having someone who contrasts may be undesirable. A house of brands may have more flexibility to place the candidate in a mutually beneficial position.

Another factor to consider is the type of industry. A fast paced digital company with a diverse range of products may be better positioned to take on employees that have a strong personal brand versus an established family owned manufacturer.

Understanding the impact on the corporation and building a hiring practice that takes this into consideration will be key to finding the right fit.

To demonstrate let’s look at the career of Pranav Mistry. I, and many others, became aware of him after his TED Talk on the Sixth Sense technology he developed when a lab assistant and PhD candidate at MIT. His brilliant technology left me speechless and I was interested in where and what he was going to do next. Through his website and social media he stays in touch with those who want to follow his career. He now boasts 62,935 followers on Twitter and has secured his spot as an authority on developing emerging technologies.

He is now the head of the Think Tank Team and Director of Research for Samsung Research America. All the people who follow him now look at Samsung in a different light for having hired him. Subsequently Samsung appears to be on the cutting edge of technology by association.

In simple terms, hiring someone with a strong personal brand is like a professional sports team acquiring the sport’s top players. The team’s brand becomes more desirable and people want to be associated with it. The team is seen as the pinnacle of their sport because of the personal brands that make up their roster.

Whether you are looking for your first job or to move up the ladder it is important to consider these strategies and how to use them to your advantage. In a Branded House situation you may want to demonstrate your knowledge of their corporate brand strategy and how your personal brand will support it.

In a house of brands situation you may want to show the company how associating with you will benefit them. Your authority on a subject and the following you’ve developed become valuable assets that a company can leverage to boost their profile.

Taking note of a corporation’s brand strategy allows you to accurately position yourself for success.

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