A Brand Portfolio Model for Private Brands

Brand Frameworks

A Brand Portfolio Model for Private Brands

The Brand Portfolio Model, an adaptation of Rik Riezbos’ Brand Circle, is a framework especially for retailers with complex brand architectures. 
By Jeff Dickson

When you think of Kroger’s own brands, which ones come to mind? If you are like most, you would call out their inner core brands: Simple Truth, Private Selection, and the Kroger brand itself. This is by no accident because these are the brands they want to be known for. Yet, if you fit within one of their niche customer segments, and love to explore world foods, you might love their outer core brand, Hemisfares. 

Similar to a product portfolio, this brand portfolio model helps Kroger and stores everywhere clarify the role of their own brands and, thus, the roles of the brands around them. The Brand Portfolio Model, an adaptation of Rik Riezbos’ Brand Circle, is a framework especially for retailers with complex brand architectures. It provides insight into how products relate to the corporate retail image, how they relate to one another, and can help brand managers decide which products to use in brand expressions. The closer to the center of this model, the closer your brand’s should be to your corporate brand strategy.

Inner core brands are the few flagship brands you will be known for. They should collectively embrace both your store’s full value proposition and identity—meaning that your inner core brands points of difference align with the points of difference of the store. Simply put: to market your inner core brands is to market your corporate brand. These inner core brands should receive the most marketing support, cross over divisional categories, and, thus, play a significant role in the store architecture decision-making process.

Outer core brands offer a more targeted positioning so not to lose out on more focused opportunities as the market fluctuates (ie customer’s needs change, competitor shifts, etc). Develop strategic brand positions to make this relevance clear. Guidelines should be built for marketers and buyers to maintain and protect their differentiation.

Private Labels, packer labels, and art packs should all be found in your “value” category, especially when there is little control over management of the brand. These packer labels and art packs from outside vendors should be re-assessed, tested, and redesigned as needed so not to damage the perception of the aisle or store experience.


National brands should be positioned to provide competitive points of parity—for the store as well as areas where your product mix is not meeting customer’s minimum expectations. Importantly, your core brands should have clear positions that differentiate it from their national brand neighbors at shelf. That is, you should not allow national brands to overlap or compete with you private brand’s points of difference in order to avoid cannibalization.