How to Build Brand Architecture for Your Multi-Academy Trust

Find out how brand architecture can help you build recognition and emotional connection with stakeholders, driving your trust towards sustainable growth and success.
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As a multi-academy trust (MAT), your brand is a catalyst for growth and community engagement, shaping the relationships you build with schools and wider communities. As we explain in our previous blog – it is not just about logo, colour palettes, and website design; it is about capturing the full breadth of the learning experience, from the culture in the classrooms to pupil attitudes and behaviours.

“A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.”

– Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney

With this in mind, we can think about brand architecture as the skeleton to this living entity, giving it shape and structure. In business, it is the strategic framework that companies use to organise sub-brands, products, and services. For example, the way Coca Cola organises Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Smartwater and Innocent Drinks. Similarly, in education, it is the method by which MATs organise their brand and its relationship to the schools within their trust.

A well-considered architectural framework will help to bring together the different components of your MAT into a collective identity that clearly defines who you are and what you stand for. This helps to build recognition as well as emotional connection with stakeholders, which will ultimately propel your trust towards sustainable growth and success.

There are many examples of brand architecture, but the predominant models include “branded house” and “house of brands.” Different MATs will take different approaches – the right one for you will depend on your vision and values.

Branded House

Some MATs will focus their efforts on developing a singular brand, ensuring that every academy within their trust can be easily identified through branded uniforms, colours, and website designs. This is known as the branded house approach, which is often the most simple and straightforward.


● Efficiency: MATs can apply one marketing strategy across all touchpoints, which often makes it easier and cost-effective.

● Coherency: By ensuring that every academy conforms to the same brand identity, there is no need to worry about conflicting messages from multiple brands.

● Familiarity: Increased brand awareness makes it easy to attract new talent and prospective parents, as they know what to expect from your schools.


● Reputation: All your academies will be tied together with your brand’s public perception, which may lead some potential stakeholders to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach.

● Limitations: Academies have less creative control to market their own unique brand.

● Ambiguity: MATs may be at risk of appearing vague and generic in order to appeal to a broader audience.

House of Brands

Other MATs will give each academy the autonomy to create their own brand identity, representing the particular needs and interests of their community. This is known as the house of brands strategy. Academies may showcase the shared ethos and strategic goals of the trust they are a part of, but this is usually much more subtle.


● Reach: A single MAT can appeal to many diverse schools, families, and communities, broadening its demographic reach.

● Flexibility: Each academy has the freedom to create unique brand identities, styles, and marketing campaigns.

● Security: If one academy experiences a crisis, it is less likely to damage the broader reputation of the trust.


● Confusion: Without careful planning, this approach may lead to a lack of cohesion and even conflicting messages, which can be confusing for families and schools.

● Cost: Developing multiple marketing strategies for each academy can be a costly and time-consuming process.

● Obscurity: The success of any single academy may not be attributed to the trust as a whole, which can make it harder to leverage brand trust and credibility to empower other academies.

When choosing brand architecture, it’s important to reflect on your unique mission in order to find the best fit for you. Whether your trust takes a hands-on or hands-off approach (or perhaps something in-between) with its academies will hugely influence your decision.

Whichever strategy you choose, remember that brand architecture is not only built upon visuals and tone of voice, but the shared values that bring your community together. Beyond growth and strategic development, branding is about the promises you make, the connections you build, and the experience you create.

Would you like support with building a successful brand that sets your MAT apart?

Get in touch with our Marketing Team to find out how we can guide you throughout the branding process.

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