Brand Hierarchy And Why It Matters For Your Business

4 min

Brand Hierarchy And Why It Matters For Your Business

Creating a brand involves a culmination of many different moving parts, from messaging and visual identity to nitty-gritty details like your business model, sales funnel, and overall brand hierarchy. 

The different aspects of your brand (which are affected by the brand hierarchy) inform the strategies you’ll carry out to market it, such as:

  • Messaging Strategy: What you say to people to get them to buy/click/download/convert.
  • Brand Strategy: How you say it. Brand strategy is about character, values, archetype, and the overall experience of the brand.
  • Marketing Strategy: What tactics are employed to communicate the brand. Marketing strategy relies on messaging and brand strategy. Without them, there would be gaps that need to be filled.

All of these strategies are important to dig into individually, but they all also have a relationship with each other. In our blog series, we will be highlighting each of these strategies and how they do/don’t interact with each other, but first, we should discuss brand hierarchy.

What is A Brand Hierarchy?

A brand hierarchy is the systematic branching structure of a brand’s distinctive elements for its sub-products. Essentially, it’s the organizational structure that determines how your brand operates, how people perceive it, and how they will interact with it.

The way you structure your brand hierarchy can positively OR negatively impact your success, so it’s important to understand it. 

Here’s a quick example. A large parent company owns 3 child brands with different products. 2 of those child brands have a very similar audience though, so the company decides to merge them into 1 brand. This has a ginormous impact on the now-merged employees’ day-to-day work, the brand’s organizational structure, and it may even eliminate jobs. 

You can see how singular decisions at the top of the hierarchy can have outsized effects the further down the organizational chart they travel. To better understand how this works, let’s take a look at different brand hierarchy structures.

Models of Brand Hierarchy

Different brand hierarchy models are best explained through real-world, recognizable examples. Let’s discuss the Apple, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and General Motors models. These different brand hierarchies feature different ways to structure the parent-child brand relationship which can lead to a totally different consumer experience.

The Apple Model

Apple has a strong brand hierarchy, with Apple itself serving as the parent brand to its child brands like iPhone, Macbook, Airpods, iPad, etc. The parent vs. child product brands are able to function in different ways while carrying out different messaging strategies. 

For example, the Apple parent brand focuses on technology and innovation with uncompromising design—the Apple lifeblood. Therefore, the child brands don’t have to spend as much time talking about this important topic. They can dive right into the technical features and lifestyle aspects of their individual products, liberated by their parent brand. 

The Coca-Cola Model

The Coca-Cola model is very different from the Apple model, due to the vast number of products that Coca-Cola has. Each individual child brand like Fanta, Sprite, Dasani, etc. doesn’t always relate to Coca-Cola because many consumers may not even be aware of the parent-child relationship!

However, the child brands all share relatively the same audiences, so they don’t really have to group up as you’ll see with Procter & Gamble.

The Procter & Gamble Model

Procter & Gamble has many brands with similar products, but they have different audiences. This leads to a unique parent-child relationship where the general categories of products are known by their brand names, but the parent company isn’t. 

For example, you’re definitely aware of Procter & Gamble’s baby diaper brands like Luvs and Pampers, or laundry products like Tide or Gain, but you probably don’t consider the name Procter & Gamble when looking for these products. In other words, the messaging and overall marketing strategy is pointed at the individual brands and products, not the parent company at all, really.

The General Motors Model

GM’s child brands are more closely associated with the audiences they serve. People are aware of the General Motors parent brand, but they likely don’t see ads for General Motors itself, but rather for the child brands like GMC and Chevy.

As mentioned before, the child brands’ marketing strategies are each determined by the audiences they serve. For example, GMC vehicles are marketed towards contractors who need a sturdy vehicle, while Chevy vehicles are for the people who want a truck but with fancier interiors and more comfort features.

Overall, this model creates great awareness of the parent-child relationship, but it’s not a key part of the marketing. The brands are segmented by category but still connected through the brand identity of GM.

The Parent Brand & Child Brand Relationship

So what are the implications of the parent/child brand relationship for your business?

If your business has a multi-brand portfolio, you need to determine if they’ll interact with each other or not. Perhaps you’ll take the Apple approach, where your overall brand builds authority for your child brands. On the other hand, you might structure your brands like Procter & Gamble, where your child brands stand as representations of your product lines without talking about the parent brand. 

In any case, this relationship between your brands needs to be determined strategically, with absolute intention. Your entire marketing strategy and its tactics will be informed by this hierarchy, so you need to make sure you’re rock solid in your decision. 


At Deksia, we realize that your brand hierarchy is a complex and intricate thing. Different aspects of your business can be highlighted through marketing tactics in different ways, so it’s important to figure out where your overall strategy should be headed. In essence, you need to figure out who your business is at the core in order to talk about it effectively. 

We’ll take a deep dive into your business alongside you and will come up with strategies that turn your marketing into an ROI-generating machine. Contact us and let’s get started working together!

Learn more about digital marketing trends from 2022:

8 Digital Marketing Stats from 2022 to Be Aware Of