Sport brand architecture

Brand architecture describes the structure of an organization’s portfolio of brands and the relationship between these brands as perceived by the consumer. Specifically, brand architecture is determined by consumers’ perceptions of management, design, and structure of brands that are in a relationship with one another that can be found in a portfolio of brands. Brands can be structured on a continuum between a house of brands and a branded house. In a branded house, the master brand name is closely linked to all subbrands (e.g., the subbrands Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media are linked to the master brand Virgin). In contrast, a house of brands has limited or no linkage between the master brand name and its major brands (e.g., the subbrands Ariel and Charmin are not visibly linked to the master brand Procter & Gamble). Between these approaches, mixed-branding strategies are common and spill-over effects of consumers’ perceptions occur between brands in the portfolio. Most sport entities (e.g., leagues, teams, athletes) are positioned in a mixed-branding portfolio. For example, what consumers think of the league influences their perception of the teams within the league, and vice versa. This relationship is presented in the figure below.

Sport Brand Architecture

My research has investigated sport brand architecture.

In this research project, published in the Journal of Sport Management, my co-authors and I examined drivers of consumer involvement and brand loyalty with professional sport leagues and teams. Results revealed that leagues and teams were in a co-dominant relationship with one another. Three different sport consumer relationships were identified and confirmed within sport brand architecture.  The relationships were league dominant, team dominant, and co-dominant. The co-dominant relationship was identified as the most common brand relationship with consumers being equally involved with their favorite league and their favorite team. Findings of this research can be utilized to improve the management and marketing of leagues and teams through leveraging their brand relationship, which subsequently may increase consumer loyalty with both brands.

Kunkel, T., Funk, D.C., & Hill, B. (2013). Brand architecture, drivers of consumer involvement, and brand loyalty with professional sport leagues and teams. Journal of Sport Management, 27(3), 177-192. Get this article via email:Download


My research has examined the influence of the league brand on consumers’ connection with their favorite team.

League on teamIn this research project, my co-author and I examined how brand associations linked with a league influence consumers’ team identification and team-related consumption. Findings of this research support that consumers’ perceptions of the league brand influence their identification with their favorite team and their team-related behavioral intentions. This research has implications on the management and marketing of the relationship between leagues and their affiliated teams.

This research is currently in review.