folder structure.png

Creating a Multi-Brand Folder Structure in Marketo

Level 10 - Champion Alumni
Level 10 - Champion Alumni

One of the (many) things that makes Marketo such a great and powerful tool for businesses is its ability to be very flexible to adapt to your evolving business needs. I worked with a company that had the unique challenge of representing multiple brands existing under a larger brand within the company. As you can imagine, this created quite a few headaches and last minute campaign re-brands when the branding needs changed. We also had to manage multiple program templates for each brand, meaning that if I made a change to the webinar template for Brand A, I had to remember to also make that change for Brand B's webinar template. My very smart and talented co-Marketo users and I came up with a really awesome way to use folder level and program level tokens to adapt to a different brand's standards on the fly. This is not a novel concept - Edward Unthank​ has a popular blog post and Marketo Summit talk discussing the merits of using universal, folder, and program level tokens.

We adapted this strategy with some modifications for our brand structure, which enabled us to use a common set of program templates and clone them to a different brand folder, adapting the emails and landing pages to the applicable brand standards.

Advantages of this approach:

  1. We only needed to maintain one set of templates. If we decided to change the layout or format of our landing page or email templates, we made updates in one location. If we decided to add a wait step to one of our flows for a webinar template, we just did it in one location. This saved us a tremendous amount of time and removed a lot of margin for error where we were forgetting to update something in each brand's template.
  2. It forced us to have a more cohesive look and feel across our brands in the templates, because they were all using the same template layout with different logos and color schemes, but it was easy to see that these brands were all part of the same company. Obviously this won't work for everybody - multi-brand companies often have complex relationships between brands - but it worked for us and saved us from a lot of craaazy looking landing pages.
  3. It got our reporting on the same page. Prior to this, we had been using workspace partitions in Marketo because we intentionally wanted to keep everything between brands very separate. As we scaled to one marketing team for all brands, it made our reporting a LOT simpler to have everyone on one workspace with access to all leads and all templates.

Without further ado... I present to you our Super Awesome Multi-Brand Foldering Structure (SAMBFS):

folder structure.png

universal tokens.png

The universal tokens consist of the year, address, phone number - basically anything that is applicable across brands.

brand level tokens.png

Nested under the Universal folder is the brand level folders. There should be one folder for each brand, and each folder should have these tokens:

  • Company Name
  • Hero Color - the primary color used in templates, for things like background colors
  • Secondary color - the secondary color used in templates, for things like button color
  • Company Website

2016-07-19 09_28_32-Marketo _ WBN YYYY-MM-DD MKT Webinar-Program-Template (My Tokens) • Marketing Ac.png

Within each brand level folder, you have some amount of flexibility to do what you want. We created a sub-folder for each program type (Advertising, Email, Nurture, Website Content, etc) but you can really do what makes the most sense for you. We did not build folder level tokens on these sub-folders. Within each sub-folder, the program-level folder had its own tokens, as most programs do. Because of the token hierarchy, if we did need to override a certain element that existed at the brand level, such as the secondary color, we could replicate the token at the program level and it would override the value of the folder level. Similar to how CSS hierarchy works.

my hero color.png

Within the CSS of each email template and landing page template, we referenced tokens where we normally would have referenced image URLs or rgb/hexadecimal color codes. This way the branding is inherited from the tokens.

There you have it! Let me know in the comments how you could adapt this for your Marketo instance!

Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Yes! Token all the things!

This is a fantastic example of knowing when workspaces can be a better option than partitions from a reporting and team bandwidth standpoint. Thanks for sharing, Sydney Mulligan​!

Level 10

Hi Sydney,

This is a great illustration of the power of tokens. Well done.

One way to enhance it: create the brand tokens in the Universal folder as well, before you even start creating the brand tokens. Then, when creating the brand folders, instead of recreating each token, as they are already there, inherited, you just have to override them, which will reduce the risk of errors and accelerate the work. This is because you cannot clone folders, unlike programs.

There are quite a few ideas in here   that would make it even more powerful, such as

  • Color picker tokens
  • Image tokens
  • Root level tokens, that would remove the need for the universal folder


Level 10 - Champion Alumni

 Semi-off-topic, but I recently tokenized sales leaders' email addresses for MQL alerts in a new implementation. This satisfied me greatly

In the past- and maybe in a multi-brand example like this- lead owners can change a lot and you don't want to hunt and peck for who was referenced on which smart campaign or workspace, particularly if there's overlap internally across brands. Just put the whole brand/sales region in a text token and off to the races

That's probably not a unique snowflake, just something I wish I had done in my first instance that now I do as part of every implementation.

Not applicable

Syndey -

Thank you for posting this!  Our team and brands keep growing and feel that having something like this set up will becoming increasingly important.

To make sure I understand did you set up your universal brand folders/tokens in the Design Studio?  I in starting to look into the use of universal tokens and still have a ways to go to understand the best implementation. 

Thank you!


Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Hi Christine!

That's great! I'm glad this was helpful. No, we set up our folder structure in Marketing Activities so that the programs we built out would inherit the folder-level tokens. If you're just starting out with tokens, it may be helpful for you to read through Edward's articles that are linked in my post above, and read through the Marketo Product Doc on tokens here - Tokens - Marketo Docs - Product Docs

Best of luck!

Not applicable

Thank you, Sydney.  I'll read through the resources and come back with any questions.

I appreciate the help!

Level 2

Hey Sydney! Got another use case for this one... different locales / countries! Set your defaults at the universal folder level and then override for each locale.


Here's an example of how we've overridden our defaults for our German locale:


- regional social networks

- home page (set token as the link behind your logo)

- form_button_label and form_button_waiting_label (so that you can use standard locale forms for multiple purposes, e.g. 'Get report', 'Download now', 'Submit' without having to create a local form)

- locale-specific product, legal and privacy pages

- 'All rights reserved' (it's the only thing that changes in the copyright... 'year' is set at Universal level)

I love me a good token, me. Hehe.

Great meeting you at Summit. Chat soon!


Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Hey Gary! Absolutely, a great use case for cascading tokens as well!

Level 2

Hi, this is very helpful - I am thinking of trying this. We don't have a range of brands but we do have different industry segments with their own messaging, logo, images etc so tokenising (if that's a word lol) could work maybe?

Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Definitely would work!