Real Estate Brand Architecture: How to Define, Structure, and Position Your Brand for the Public

design your real estate brand architecture

When you’re new to the idea of real estate brand architecture, it can seem like a study in semantics. What is a branded house vs. a house of brands, and why do they sound so similar if they’re really very different? 

It can help to think of real estate brand architecture as brand hierarchy: How do you structure your parent brand in relation to its child brands? Because this is not just the foundation of your company but the building blocks of everything that follows – a reflection of your business positioning, strategy, and objectives, as you present them both internally and to the public.

So, let’s get into it:

Are You a Branded House or a House of Brands?

Real Estate house of brands or branded house
They may sound similar, but a branded house is distinct from a house of brands

Here at Peak Integrated Marketing, we like to think of brand architecture as your brand’s Family Tree: your parent brand, its child brands, and any named products or services you may offer.

Generally speaking and at the very highest levels, there are two overarching structures – brand architecture shorthand, if you will – that, while they sound similar, are vastly different in what they say about your brand structure and positioning:

Branded House

A branded house conducts all its business under the organization’s brand name. Think RE/MAX Global and its many branded regional offices – RE/MAX of XYZ Location

Importantly, with a branded house, child brands serve to either make the parent brand more relevant or to respond to a specific consumer need. Either way, the child brands are inextricably linked to the parent brand and the parent brand provides quality assurance to the child brands. In the RE/MAX example above, RE/MAX Global lends its name and standards to its XYZ Location.

House of Brands

A house of brands has one parent company where each good or service is its own distinct brand.

This approach is most common with traditional consumer goods, for example Proctor and Gamble (P&G), which owns everything from Charmin and Bounty to Pampers and Tide. If you didn’t know that, then P&G has marketed its house of brands well! Because houses of brands are marketing-driven companies, where each brand is independent and has its own marketing staff, budgets, and goals. So, while a House of Brands does not hide its independent brands, consumers may or may not be aware that these brands are part of the bigger parent organization. 

Here’s an easy litmus test: If your various brands, products, or services all operate under the same logo, then you’re likely a branded house. If your various brands, products, or services each have their own logo, then you’re likely a house of brands.

The Third Option in Brand Architecture: A Hybrid Model

Notably, some brand architecture demands a third option, commonly referred to as a Hybrid Brand Architecture

This strategy serves brands that identify with elements of both a branded house and a house of brands – or that don’t really see themselves as either. With the hybrid model, you’ll often find that companies begin with their namesake brand and then expand their portfolio to include other related products or services

Think Marriott International and its many endorsed brands (see below), from the Residence Inn and Courtyard Hotels to JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton. They are both their own brand (Courtyard) and an extension of the branded house (Courtyard by Marriott).

Digging Deeper: Sub-Brands, Endorsed Brands, and More

Of course, brand architecture is not a simple duality and once you’ve decided on your overarching structure, there’s a lot more to your branded house or house of brands or hybrid model. 

We won’t go into all the details here because many of them are more relevant to major multinationals rather than boutique real estate developers, brokerages, and other companies in our industry. But, whether you’re either interested or simply see the value in familiarizing yourself with the details, here are the broad strokes: 


Sub-branding is a distinct concept from sub-brands. While sub-brands can generally refer to any brand that lives under your parent brand, sub-branding is different. 

Sub-branding applies when there is a clear link between the parent brand and sub-brand but the sub-brand is differentiated from the parent brand – a special version of the parent brand. Notably, when you’re sub-branding, the parent name almost always comes first: Amazon Alexa (smart voice assistant), Chevrolet Volt (electric vehicle), etc.

Endorsement Branding

Similarly to sub-branding, endorsement branding acts an off shoot of a parent brand. That said, rather than a brand identity that is an extension of the parent (sub-branding), an endorsed brand relies on the credibility of its parent brand/endorser. (Note that the hybrid model, above, often includes endorsed brands.)

A great example of endorsement branding in real estate is a new development or community by a recognized architect or developer ex. XYZ Community by John Doe Architecture or XYZ Community from ZYX Developers.


Like endorsement branding, cobranding involves two inextricably linked brands. That said, with cobranding, there is no clear parent brand: the two cobrands are on fairly equal footing, at least for their cobranded product or service: They both extend their brand recognition and name to this new, shared product. (Food mash-ups, ex. Cinnabon International Delight non-dairy creamer, are a good example of cobranding.)

Indirect Branding

As its name implies, indirect branding occurs when a new brand is only indirectly linked to its parent: the legal link is there, but each brand is distinct and stands wholly on its own. Typically, this occurs with a House of Brands and the relationship is only designated by a small logo (again, think P&G) somewhere on the packaging.  

Developing Your Real Estate Brand Architecture

real estate branch architecture is your public face
Brand architecture is an everyday open house for your company. How do you want the public to see and interact with your brand?

By now, you probably have a good idea of whether you’re a branded house, a house of brands, or a hybrid model. 

Now, it’s time to define how you’ll structure your real estate brand architecture. Ask yourself:

  • What is your core/parent brand? (This applies for a branded house, house of brands, and the hybrid model.)
  • If you are a branded house, what brands live under your parent brand? 
  • If you are a house of brands, what brands pinwheel out from your parent brand? 
  • How do your brands relate to each other? How publicly do you want to market/recognize this relationship (if at all)?
  • How, if at all, do your brands relate to and/or rely on each other? This relationship can be related to quality control, product/services, legitimacy, and more. 
  • What brand naming conventions do you use? For example, do your child brands always include the parent brand? Do they never reference the parent?

These are just a sample of the questions you must ask yourself, as you structure and position your growing brand. Your answers will have a resounding and important effect on how you market yourself and your products or services, and will affect how customers and clients interact with both you and your brand. 

Need Help? Real Estate Brand Architecture is Our Wheelhouse

Brand architecture one of the keystones to your business, your branding, and your positioning. This is a starting point, not a midway consideration or an afterthought.

At Peak Integrated Marketing, real estate brand architecture is part of our initial consulting package – one of the very first steps we take with all our clients. That’s because, without a defined brand architecture, your marketing and brand management efforts will lack direction. That’s wasted effort, lost time, and bad for your bottom line. 

So, whether you’re completely lost or just need a little help to push you over that finish line, feel free to get in touch! That’s what we’re here for.