To help manage a visual identity system strategically, institutions of higher education often call upon a brand architecture model. This model provides a brand hierarchy, starting with the top-level brand for the institution as a whole, then addressing other entities, from schools and colleges to support offices to affiliated organizations. The five categories within the UW–Madison brand hierarchy are:
The core brand is the top tier of the brand hierarchy, and it represents the institution as a whole. The visual identity for the core brand is the institutional logo, and it should be used on any projects that encompass the full university, such as institutional websites, television spots, annual reports, or strategic plans.
Core brand extension
A core brand extension is an overarching entity that advances the overall mission of the university and aligns very closely with the core brand. At UW–Madison, core brand extensions are schools and colleges.
Secondary brand extension
A secondary brand extension is a UW–Madison administrative office, support unit, or academic department that supports the overall mission of the university.
A sub-brand is an entity, such as the Wisconsin Alumni Association or a school/college alumni group, that is linked to UW–Madison's core brand for strategic and economic reasons. Its visual identity may incorporate key elements of the core brand (such as the W crest, or official typefaces or colors), but does so in a way that establishes a more independent visual identity.
An independent brand is an entity that presents its connection to the UW–Madison brand in an understated manner for a variety of reasons. For example, an entity may exist through an equal partnership among multiple universities. The entity may rely upon an external funding source that must be prominently acknowledged. Or an entity’s mission may differ significantly from UW–Madison's core missions. The Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery is an example of an independent brand.