A House of Brands: To Be or Not To Be?

By on August 2, 2017

Large corporations are struggling now more than ever to regain their edge in attracting top talent, as many employees now favor working at smaller, more agile organizations. Add to the mix the need to consider the impact that corporate or consumer brand architecture can have on one’s employer brand.

In this blog, CKR Interactive examines considerations employers need to think through and the most important questions to ask when dealing with the corporate employer branding challenge: a house of brands.

In the house of brands model, the product or service is the recognizable brand as opposed to the parent company or corporate brand. Proctor & Gamble Co. often comes to mind as a prime example of a house of brands as its brand identity among consumers is tied to the individual products that P&G produces. Other good examples include Tide, Vicks or Clairol. However, what distinguishes P&G from other corporate entities with similar brand architecture is that P&G itself enjoys a high level of awareness, particularly as an employer, that most other parent corporations do not experience. In this regard, a more common example would be Darden Restaurants, which few have heard of, yet nearly everyone has eaten at an Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse or Bahama Breeze.

For organizations such as Darden Restaurants, the decision to raise the profile of the parent company as an employer — thereby becoming more of a branded house or a family of endorsed brands — is extremely complex and must also take into consideration brand strategy at the consumer level because the greatest success is always achieved when the consumer and employment brands build off each other and, ultimately, reinforce the quality of the product or service alongside the quality of the employment experience.

Given this landscape, CKR believes it’s always best to begin by analyzing the factors that drive the desire to move from a house of brands to one of the other models in which there is greater recognition of the parent company’s brand and its influence on the sub-brands. More specifically, you’ll want to examine the following:

  • What perceptions exist regarding your sub-brands as companies to work for? You’ll need to understand how both current and prospective employees think about what it’s like to work for each of your sub-brands as it’s likely that you’ll uncover some distinctions and nuances across all of them. This understanding will aid in determining the viability of rolling all sub-brands into messaging at the parent company level.
  • Which target audiences are most crucial to the employer branding initiative? While it’s tempting to say “everyone,” you need to be very specific in terms of identifying who you’re trying to attract by raising the profile of the parent company. Generally, we’ve found that organizations do this when they are having trouble attracting professionals as opposed to hourly workers, particularly companies in the hospitality, food and beverage, and retail industries. It can be much more difficult to attract professional workers when they aren’t familiar with the parent entity, its structure and the significant opportunities that may exist.

However, wanting people to better understand opportunities at the parent company level doesn’t necessarily mean that bringing your sub-brands under one roof from an employer branding perspective will produce
 the best results. You may find through your research that the affinity people have for your sub-brands offers a level of awareness, and even interest, that can be leveraged to communicate more effectively with professional job seekers.

  • What potential negatives might be associated with a shift in your brand architecture? Putting your parent company’s employer brand front and center might help you achieve your objectives as they relate to hiring professionals, but it could have a negative impact on recruitment at the sub-brand level by inadvertently implying that there will be more control from corporate in terms of how the sub-brands operate — a relationship that has historically been tense due to employees at the sub-brand level feeling like corporate doesn’t understand the demands they face working in roles that are extremely different from those at the parent company. For example, if you’ve been promoting a culture of entrepreneurship and flexibility at the sub-brand level, then messaging that emphasizes a much closer tie between the parent company and the sub-brands could create new recruitment and retention issues if not managed effectively.


So when organizations deal with the house of brands challenge, it’s important to consider what perceptions already exist about your sub-brands, which target audience is most crucial to the employer branding initiative and what potential negatives might be associated with a shift in your brand architecture. Contact CKR Interactive today to learn more about how we can guide you through your unique employer brand strategy challenges.

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