The adventurous spirit of Bridge Brands breeds a feel of expansionism. Picture everyone experiencing the best aspects of a trip to Ikea, a Bridge Brand. Like Calvin Klein, these brands bring us up a notch quickly, having fun with us on the way. It’s a guided trip, with a youthful spirit of fun and adventure.

Bridge Brand At-A-Glance Notes
Can’t Stop The Feeling, Justin Timberlake

  • The Bridge Brand is a masculine archetype.
  • Archetypal character: the knight, or in modern terms—the jock
  • Popular Global examples: BMW, Harley-Davidson, Ikea.
  • Primary analysis: The Bridge Brand presents its own mid-priced universe where the primary attraction is a combination of community and experience notable for its sense of adventure.
  • Color palettes: Generally, 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.
  • Not to be confused with: The House Brand, even with Wal-Mart, is not first about the price, it is experience. The promise is different.

First past the checkered flag: the image connotes auto racing, specifically, Formula One and top speed, performance records and industry racing records. To men especially, there is an innate appeal to performance for performance’s sake. Brands like BMW, Harley-Davidson, and even, to a lesser but more commonly available start, so do Chevrolet, IKEA and Calvin Klein because each has a quality of transition and requisite energy, aka excitement that goes with a spirit of adventure.

The Bridge Brand appeals to the adventure part of our mind, where we seek change of moving past ordinary or mundane to higher reaches. This is the area of many brand wars, i.e. Chevrolet Corvette vs. Ford Mustang, for instance.

Anyone in fashion probably recognizes the ‘bridge brand’ to represent those labels which, magically, sometimes ‘bridge’ the experience between very high fashion with everyday wear. Brands like Polo, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and hundreds of others regularly produce bridge brand products that command a higher price point than house brands in return for a. superior experience.

This area represents an extremely wide swath of opportunity as the promise of the Bridge Brand is fundamentally about quality—a range of qualities, to be precise, that always stretches from one continuum to another. For instance, from machine-made to hand-stitched. The Bridge Brand may present an alternate, or substitute for the one-off product at an out-of-reach price point, with a superior machine-made product with hand detailing, at a middle price.

A survey of automotive brands, which have profited from this brand strategy is instructive for it encompasses an extremely wide range of cars, price points and decision-makers: Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Harley-Davidson, and Peugeot.

The Bridge Brand is a powerful, fun archetype commonly employed in the fashion world, and also, subtly in the automotive world, as well. Bridge Brands 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.

Bridge Brands are for many consumers 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 name brands, such as the Castle or Palace archetypes. 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 quirks of fun as well as adventure in a safe, sanitized environment.

Some of the most interesting (and profitable) consumer brands are Bridge Brands. Successful Bridge Brands inevitably 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.

If you are prepared to guide your customer by holding them by the hand, metaphorically at least, then you may be thinking of a Bridge Brand. The successful Bridge Brand sweeps in on horseback, rescues the ‘damsel in distress’ from the chaos around her, then rushes her across the bridge to a place of security, before safely depositing her in a new, elevated situation.

Think of the relationship of the knight on horseback with the damsel in distress as comparable to that of your brand with your clientele. If there is no aspect of this in your relationship, then this brand metaphor is not for you or this brand. If it is, then look to see what other aspects may be present as well.

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 at an approachable price-point.

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?”.

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!

Architectonics

The dynamic architecture that is architectonics first helped detect all seven of the fundamental brand types, described in The Matriarchy of Brands.

The Matriarchy of Brands

Here, in a natural order for learning, are the seven members of the Matriarchy of Brands with their primary descriptive elements.

  1. The Reliable House Brand
  2. The Popular Tower Brand
  3. The Connection Bridge Brand
  4. The Choice Hotel Brand
  5. The Safe Castle Brand
  6. The Forever Palace Brand
  7. The Together Theater Brand

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