What is a Bridge Brand?

Bridge brands fulfill a vital and profitable spectrum of the brand economy. Despite this, they remain an underutilized and one of the least-exploited successfully demonstrated forms of branding.

There’s no reason for this. Ikea, Harley-Davidson and Visa are three quite different brands, which nevertheless all utilize this same formula, borrowed from the fashion industry. The promise of getting ‘more than you paid for’ is what they all deliver on.

That they do so in a way which often surprises and delights is just part of their charm.

In the rush to specialize, the intermediate territory of the Bridge Brand has been abandoned by many marketers; who perhaps see it as a mere ‘stepping stone’ in the market middle. What may be missing is a clear understanding of the true characteristic of the Bridge Brand, which is neither a cheaper version of name brand, nor a pricier version of house brand, but rather its own unique quality of fun and adventure.

Successful Bridge brands such as Harley Davidson or Marlboro are successes in large part simply because by the act of co-branding they are conforming to their natural type. Both Harley and Marlboro are archetypal Bridge brands that use this to their advantage over a wide range of products beyond the original anchor. Bridge brands are inhabited by Knights. The Bridge brand offers a masculine ‘escape from reality’ quality that works well with a variety of products and translate well so long as they answer the question “how?”.

The Bridge Brand is a powerful, fun archetype commonly employed in the fashion world, but little-used elsewhere. This may be changing as the Bridge Brand offers significant and unique advantages in service delivery. The Bridge Brand, more than many other archetypes stands for a specific qualitative flavor of service delivery. There is an accessible nature to Bridge Brands that belies the notable quality of their service experience.

Some of the most interesting (and profitable) consumer brands are Bridge Brands. Successful Bridge Brands have a distinct, even quirky quality that makes them extremely memorable. They have a youthful quality combined with a degree of maturity that makes them palatable, and even attractive to a variety of age groups. There is a sense in the successful Bridge Brand that it makes up its own universe—one where it is the center and the salvation. This can create powerful loyalties and extremely strong lifetime brand relationships. The successfully conceived Bridge Brand is certainly much more than just a stepping-stone—it is a destination experience.

When to use it:

Use the Bridge Brand format when you’re prepared to stand out in a crowded marketplace, (BlackBerry!). This marque requires confidence and the backing of solid products. For many consumers it will be their first foray into a ‘brand experience’ beyond the House Brand. Typically, Bridge Brands are priced as a ‘bridge’ between less expensive House Brands and more expensive ‘designer’ brands, such as the Castle or Palace archetypes. However, there are no hard rules about price or position. If your category (niche) is overcrowded, for instance with Castle or Palace brands, choosing the Bridge formula can be a recipe to succeed with a distinct offer. Your brand will become a connecting point to others–strategically an excellent place to be!

Following are meta solutions to successfully implement the Bridge Brand formula.

Bridge Brand Characteristics:

  • Primary analysis: The Bridge Brand presents its own mid/upper-priced universe where the primary attraction is a combination of community and experience notable for its sense of adventure.
  • The Bridge Brand is a youthful masculine archetype.
  • Color palettes: Generally Orange/Gold with Black, Navy or sometimes Purple, it may also be represented by Yellow/Gold and Navy.
  • Color analysis: The color combinations refer to a youthful version of the masculine type where maturity is indicated but there is also a quality of transition or growth in process.
  • Fundamental dweller within the archetype: Eldest son (the knight, or in modern terms—the jock)
  • Popular Global examples: Harley-Davidson (Orange & Black), Ikea (Yellow & Navy).
  • Not to be confused with: The House Brand, which sometimes also uses Blue and Yellow. While the colors may overlap with some House Brands (eg. Wal-Mart), the promise is distinctly different.

Bridge brands are one of seven proven successful brand formulas, as consistently demonstrated by the  Top 100 Global Brands.

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  1. Bryce, you have a way of making understanding brands come alive! Anyone who is not sure about their own brand could inadvertently be creating confusion in the marketplace that is impacting their performance without them even realizing it. A clear brand that is aligned with your brand message makes your brand an obvious choice for consumers.

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