May 11, 2016

Stick With What You Know: How to Achieve a Successful Brand Extension


Stick with what you know – it’s a simple piece of advice and one that serves as the guiding force behind making an initial run with brand extension decisions. When looking to expand a brand’s influence by introducing new products in different product categories, brand extensions can be a risky move, destined to either spread the master brand to new frontiers, or bound to crash and burn, potentially harming the master brand in the process.

It’s been said before on this very blog that when it comes to brand decisions, there’s no need to recreate the wheel. Sometimes, the brand extension that makes the most sense, or the one that comes to mind first, is there for a reason – it’s the best choice. This is especially true for first-time forays into brand extensions. The issues begin when brands try to outthink themselves, reaching for products that were at the end of the brainstorming list, just to try and tap into a market in which the master brand would never be considered.

Find a product line that provides your audience with an easily traceable link to the master brand. Not only will this increase the residual brand equity for the new product, but it will also ease any apprehension when the two are inevitably linked. For instance, if your brand is known for cleaning products, then the new extensions should fall within the “cleaning” realm, no matter how indirectly that may be. This will avoid any unsavory connotations, such as attempting to sell a potato chip that people will instinctively think has cleaner in it.

The direct line advice is applied mainly when the extension is directly leveraging the master brand. While there are some extensions that step outside of the master brand’s key space, their branding efforts are set forth to establish them as individual and unique brand offerings, where the master brand is not utilized or mentioned.

Another advantage to sticking to what your brand is known for is the sense of expertise that will be felt within the audience for the extension product. If consumers already feel your brand stands out within its space, finding a product that can be closely associated with that space will further expand that feeling that if your brand can excel at one thing, then creating an industry-related product is highly believable.

As previously mentioned, these new products are bound to carry the weight of the master brand. This impact goes both ways, as well. Determine whether the success or failure of the extension could have a negative effect on the master brand. If the extension takes off and it ends up coming back to harm the master brand, than the potential harm may not outweigh the benefit of a successful product launch.

When a brand extension is on the table, it is time to look at the master brand’s strategic plan. A good brand strategy when working with multiple brands under one roof should have a well-designed, easily understood brand portfolio, where each individual brand has a logical place, while also saving room for brand extensions and expansion. Trouble can arise when an extension is introduced that does not fit properly within the portfolio. Not only can that signal that an extension is outside of the proper reach and area of expertise for a master brand, but it can also disrupt the overall brand strategy.

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Still unsure whether a brand extension is the right move for your brand? Learn more by downloading this FREE webinar, “Identifying The Opportunities In Your Brand Portfolio – Are You Capitalizing On Every Potential Business Opportunity Your Portfolio Provides?”

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