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 the structure of a business that has multiple “sub-brands” within it? That is where understanding brand architecture is beneficial.
Brand architecture addresses the relationship between sub-brands. More importantly how they are different from one another and how they support the macro vision of the parent brand.
Many entrepreneurs and business owners have grand visions of an organization that serves different groups of people with their products and services.
Designing a brand architecture strategy is one way to achieve this without sacrificing the integrity of the parent brand or alienating customers.
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.
If you take a look at all the sub-brands within Nike, you will see how they are all built to support this vision, but in a way that resonates with the core customer specific to the 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 support the overall vision for Nike despite their differences.
BRAND ARCHITECTURE: NIKE SB
Nike SB has a vibe that is totally different than Air Jordan and Nike Free. It embodies the culture of west coast skateboard life and the youth that support it.
They even have their own social media platforms that feature athletes within this arena, the fashion, and culture that skateboarding has come to embody.
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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 most influential brands in the world.
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.
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, and it’s not as lifestyle driven. This reason is why Nike Free doesn’t have it’s own social media platforms like the other two sub-brands.