Why do B2B start-ups need to worry about brand architecture?


For start-ups, brand architecture seems a problem to worry about down the road. Yet, it is not uncommon for young companies (particularly technology start-ups) to come to market with multiple brands right out of the gate: 

- A company name

- A product name

- Tiered versions of the product 

- Proprietary features within the product

- Specialized applications, etc. 

Before long, the elevator pitch loses sight of the big idea and becomes mired in the weeds talking about how all the pieces fit together.

There are plenty of articles encouraging start-ups to focus on a market need, lest they apply their technology in too many directions and confuse the story. There has also been much written about the need to address how the business solves a problem in the market, rather than getting stuck in jargon-filled engineering esoterica.

Brand architecture discipline supports both of these objectives - by offering a framework to help customers navigate a portfolio of offerings efficiently and intuitively.

Three simple Brand Architecture principles for B2B start-ups.

1. Build for flexibility. Too many things with names attached to them will constrain and complicate your story. Imagine how your business might evolve and create the simplest brand structure that could accommodate that growth - so you can maintain degrees of freedom.

2. Don’t name the table stakes. If everyone else in the market offers a similar capability, why bother naming yours? Let it live as a natural function within your overall solution.

3. Resist the siren’s song of name proliferation. More brands or more names mean more explaining. More explaining is more expensive – in time and money. Keep the focus on the master brand (or, on the dominant product brand) - and support as needed with descriptions of notable features or capabilities. 

In short: Keep it simple.

There is a right time/right place for the technical talk - and it is not in elevator. Avoid an overly wrought product portfolio from the start to make your story easier to tell and easier to sell.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Jonathan Paisner