Architecting a Digital House of Brands


August 14, 2019



As content companies grow by either creating new internal brands or acquiring external brands, management of the portfolio can become a headache. Most external brands are running on self-contained publishing platforms such as Wordpress or Drupal. These systems work well in isolation; the trouble comes when running multiple brands on multiple CMS platforms. Now the challenge is managing multiple instances of each CMS with distinct technology stacks and disparate implementations. This creates a siloed approach to digital publishing that can limit the reach of the entire portfolio.

Figure 1

In this scenario, multiple brands publish content independently within completely separate publishing ecosystems. While content can be shared by copying and pasting between systems, it cannot be reused or repurposed efficiently and could hurt SEO if canonical links are not manually added.

From an administrative point of view, searching for content requires users to independently query each brand’s instance and compile the results manually. A real-world example of this might be the marketing team compiling links to content across all brands with the tag “fintech”. Once manually compiled, the marketing team can now publish the curated content to a newsletter or cross-link the common search term between brands in the portfolio.

From an editorial view: having access to only one brand does not allow insight into the other brands. The editor will need a separate login on a different URL to access other brands and those brands’ unfamiliar CMS workflow. An example of this might be an editor writing an article about Design Systems. Knowing what articles have already been written by other brands in the portfolio could reinforce or complement their new article. This unified approach to content organization and storage could also minimize the creation of redundant content and stop brands from competing for views.

What’s the solution? Enter the content hub.

Content Hub

Adding the concept of a content hub transforms individual, siloed brand sites to a digital “house of brands” where a single editor can publish relevant content in a brand-specific manner across the entire portfolio. By consolidating all content into a single repository for all brands, each brand has direct access to everything in the portfolio. This also enables distribution channels to pull content from across the entire portfolio, easily allowing interlinking and cross-brand promotion.

Figure 2

A publishing architecture, as depicted above, has several benefits for present-day publishing strategies. This is also a strong first step in moving towards a decoupled architecture, allowing the separation of the editorial stack from the rendering stack.

To enable a common content repository all CMS systems would push content to the repo upon creation or update; the content hub would be the source for a common Content API across the entire portfolio. This would enable client applications (website, mobile, social, etc) to pull content from any brand.

For example, a newsletter service could pull content for a specific tag across all brands or a single social syndication service could tweet out links for all brands but still link back to the specific brand directly.

Back to the editorial point of view: the addition of a Unified Auth component would allow all CMSs and other components of the platform to share common logins. This makes it easier to manage granular editorial access to certain aspects of any brand. For example, an editor on Brand X may only have read and search capabilities on Brand Y, while retaining full publishing access on her original brand.

Each CMS can also hook back into repo via the Content API to enable cross-brand searching and insight to all content created across the portfolio. This empowers the editors to create more relevant content for their specific brand without stealing SEO benefits from other brands. And since each CMS still has distinct workflows that are unique to that brand, the editorial experience would stay consistent.

As your company manages its multiple brands or expands through acquisition, thinking through a content hub strategy will help maximize the value of each of the brands within your portfolio—your digital house of brands.

About Levvel

Levvel helps clients transform their business with strategic consulting and technical execution services. We work with your IT organization, product groups, and innovation teams to design and deliver on your technical priorities.

Our Digital Media team empowers media companies, publishers, and content providers to build digital brands. We enable incredible digital experiences and build tools and infrastructure to power them.

Authored By

Christoph Khouri, Senior Director, Commercial

Christoph Khouri

Senior Director, Commercial

Trey Harb, Director of Business Development, Digital Media

Trey Harb

Director of Business Development, Digital Media

Meet our Experts

Christoph Khouri, Senior Director, Commercial

Christoph Khouri

Senior Director, Commercial

Christoph Khouri is a pioneer in the digital media industry with deep knowledge of both the product and technical sides of digital entertainment. He currently leads Levvel’s Publishing and Digital Media Practice, a space he has been in for over 15 years. Prior to joining Levvel, Christoph served as Chief Architect and Head of Strategy and Architecture at AOL, managing the publishing platform for all of their digital media brands including Huffington Post, Engadget, TMZ, and Christoph also held leadership roles at several successful startups including ThreeDeep, a Diageo new business venture; and Blogsmith, an innovator of web publishing acquired by AOL. Christoph founded and served as the CTO of Castfire, (now part of WideOrbit) a cutting edge digital streaming media platform.

Trey Harb, Director of Business Development, Digital Media

Trey Harb

Director of Business Development, Digital Media

Trey Harb connects people and concepts to solve business problems in the digital media vertical. He’s a 20-year veteran of media and technology, having spent time with Hearst, Cox, and Time Warner Cable Media. Trey was part of the national team that launched Ads Everywhere, TWC’s entry into the OTT space. Trey holds a BSBA in economics and banking from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and earned an MBA from the University of Georgia. His travels have taken him to rival football programs throughout the SEC, skiing and hiking mountains across the US, and all the way to Spain where he ran with the bulls. He enjoys traveling with his wife Sara and two children, Miles and Meredith, who know that a body of salt water with sand and fish make for a great family vacation.

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