Wrapping Your Mind Around Brand Architecture – A Nike Case Study
It’s alright to be Goliath, but always act like David.
It’s challenging enough to build a single brand, but how do you manage a brand’s structure and continuity with multiple “sub-brands” within it? That is where understanding brand architecture is valuable.
Brand architecture addresses the fundamental relationship between the parent brand and sub-brands. As it is developed it can show how each of the brands differ from one another, yet relate back and support the parent brand’s macro vision.
Designing a brand architecture strategy is one way to achieve this without sacrificing the parent brand’s integrity or alienating customers. In other times, a brand grows to introduce new products that need to be aligned back to the core vision.
Take Nike; they are the perfect example of brand architecture. Their vision statement, “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world,” is the ultimate macro brand mission.
Looking at the sub-brands within Nike, you will see how they are all built to support this vision. However, each Nike sub-brand has a unique identity that resonates with the core customer, specific to each sub-brand.
Which sub-brands am I talking about? How about Nike SB, Jordan & Nike Free to start.
Each of these sub-brands targets an entirely different customer but supports Nike’s overall vision despite their differences.
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BRAND ARCHITECTURE: NIKE SB
Nike SB has a vibe that is different than Air Jordan and Nike Free. Free-living and alternative. It embodies the culture of west coast skateboard life and the youth that support it.
The brand has everything from footwear, clothing, a signature line, accessories and even a kids line that speaks to the skateboard culture.
They even have their social media platforms that feature athletes within this arena, the fashion and culture that skateboarding has come to embody.
One thing that ties this brand back to the Nike parent is the dynamic nature of their content that shouts innovation. Although the message is targeted towards a different consumer market, that same Nike energy is transmitted.
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BRAND ARCHITECTURE: JORDAN BRAND
The Jordan brand has come to be associated with high-fashion athleisure and performance apparel.
The start of this brand coming back in the 80’s when Sunny Vicaro decided to take a gamble and allocated all 2 million dollars of Nike’s endorsement budget on the back of Michael Jordan.
As we all know, Michael Jordan has become a figure that changed the game for sponsorship endorsements and has since built one of the world’s most influential brands.
The Jordan products are treated as art within their circles and attract top athletes and music producers.
Very different from the world of Nike SB, but they continue to produce innovative products, both from the fashion perspective and performance.
Nike has done such a good job with their branding that many customers that identify with more than one of their sub-brands will likely feel a higher level of affinity towards the brand.
BRAND ARCHITECTURE: NIKE FREE
Within Nike’s overall brand architecture, they also have the Nike Free brand. Aimed towards the runners of the world, this brand and product line focuses on a very different segment than Nike SB or Jordan.
With a spirit built around natural movement and how it relates to running and training, the campaigns they run focus on freedom and functionality for athletes.
As you can tell, there is more of a focus on performance and training in the Nike Free universe.
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