The term brand architecture traditionally refers to the naming and relationship of individual brands within a portfolio. In recent years it has also been used to describe the collaborative process of logic and creativity whereby brands are conceived, developed and managed.
There is also a third and more literal use of the term and this is when the physical architecture of an organization’s building reflects the purpose, values and personality of the organization’s brand.
We see this all the time in retail outlets where the fittings match the products being sold, in corporate offices where the style of architecture sends a strong message about how the organization sees itself.
The bricks and mortar of brand architecture isn’t new and dates back as long as man has been building structures to house and reflect his work and achievements.
The central hall of Natural History Museum in London is a brilliant example of how a building can encapsulate and advance a brand.
Completed in the 1880s, the imposing hall welcomes visitors to the museum and is large enough to easily house a skeleton cast of the enormous diplodocus plant-eating dinosaur.
But what is really special about the architectural finishings are the hundreds of terracotta ornaments of wildlife that are present throughout the hall. The sculptures of birds perched on clay vines, monkey sculptures peer out of corners in the hall and mythical-type creature sit atop arches.
You don’t notice these sculptures immediately, but as you walk around he hall and discover them the message that this is an organization dedicated to research and understanding of all kinds of extinct and living organisms is reinforced.
This is the essence of building, and brand, architecture: crafting an overall impression and understanding through many small, individual details that merge together.