Robbie’s B2B Brand Architecture.

A single corporate B2B brand architecture, or multiple product brands?

Brand architecture in B2B marketing isn’t as tricky as everyone tries to make it. Just try to be a bit more Robbie Williams. (Nine words I never thought I’d write…)

“Hi Scot, thanks for seeing me. I thought you could help us run a few rebranding ideas up the flagpole, you know, let them flap around in the breeze for a while, see where we end up.”

“Eh, right…”

“So, ok, good, great, fabulous. Let’s start with some award winning insight. Some gold standard illustration. Some best in class examples. Some best practice case history. Just start when you’re ready.”

“What, the actual fuck, are you talking about?”

“Well, we have a large portfolio of products and no real way of uniting them. So I thought we might as well separate them all into different brands. You know, brand diversity? Diversity is such a big issue these days, I thought we could apply it to our B2B brand architecture. A bit of segmentation, verticalisation, delineation, that kind of thing. Not sure how we go about it though.”

“In that case, do what Robbie Williams does.”

“What, sing about my brands…?”

“No. Please no.”

“What does Robbie have to do with my brand portfolio then?”

“He’s written a musical with Guy Chambers based on the novel by David Walliams – The Boy in the Dress – it’s about a boy. In a dress.”

“Yes, I’ve read the book.”

“Of course you have. Anyway, he was asked in an interview how he went about writing a musical score for such a big project. What was his experience of orchestration? How did he integrate the songs with the story? Were his pop credentials adequate for this far grander production? In other words, how did he manage diversity and inclusiveness at the same time.”

“And what did he say?”

“He said he didn’t care about any of that. He had a storyline to follow, but he treated each song individually, as if it was going to be a number one hit.”


“Yeah. Each song would be a hit and at the end he’d have an album which would also be a hit and everyone would sing along at the show, at his gigs, in the bath, wherever.”

“Amazing. But, eh, what does that have to do with B2B marketing strategy?”

“Robbie joins things up.”


“The Boy in the Dress might seem like a diverse project and not very ‘Robbie’, but he’s applying his brand uniqueness to each song to make it a hit. He’s used the Robbie brand to join the Robbie songs into a Robbie album. And he’s joined the Robbie album to the Robbie brand to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Joining brands up usually makes them stronger. Focus on that, rather than separating them and making the brand weaker.”

“Still not sure I get it.”

“Ok, so think of Angels.”

“You’re going to kill me?”

“No, Robbie’s song, Angels.”


“Robbie was asked what it was like to have to keep singing his most famous song again and again every night. Didn’t he get bored with it? He said he didn’t sing it any more. He sang the first line, ‘I sit and wait…’, and held the microphone up to the audience, who sang the rest of the song for him. He helped them with the high notes, but basically, it was their song and they sang it. He just happened to be there.”

“Eh, so…?”

“So you need to think very carefully about whether you want to build a portfolio of brands, each with a different story and a separate message that moves the audience further away from your central brand message that they already struggle to recall because you’re completely shit at B2B brand strategy.”

“Oh. I see.”

“Instead of continually having to spend time, money and effort repeating and reinforcing brand positioning messages across multiple brands that no one remembers, you might like to think about single B2B branding. One brand, one album, one song. Where everyone knows the words. Where everyone wants to sing along. Where everyone thinks it’s their song. It’s their brand. At that point you don’t have to reinforce or repeat brand messages, the audience is doing it for you.”

“Mmm. I’ll give that some thought.”

“I’ll sit and wait.”


Scot McKee