The Dos And Don’ts Of Effective Brand Extension

The Dos And Don’ts Of Effective Brand Extension

The first and hardest task a business needs to do is create an effective and iconic brand, often commissioning a brand design agency to help ensure a brand’s vision and mission are captured effectively.

After the first success, however, the next step of a brand is in one or two directions. There is either a rebranding exercise to keep the brand relevant in an ever-changing industry, or the brand is so successful it is extended into new fields.

Many, if not most successful brands are extended into other fields, with one of the most successful examples of a brand extension coming after a desperate but highly successful rebrand.

Brand extensions need to be carefully considered as if an attempt fails it can harm a successful brand by association, but if it succeeds can lead to even greater success due to the halo effect.

Here are some examples of the dos and don’ts of effective brand extension.

Do Maintain The Core Vision For The Brand

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 just weeks before the ailing computer company was set to collapse, he immediately changed the course of the company with a focus on minimalism, ease of use and style, with the slogan “Think Different” epitomising this change.

Their first product under the new regime was the wildly successful iMac, but it was when the Apple brand extended into music players and mobile phones did it become one of the biggest companies in the world.

The reason why the iPod and iPhone succeeded was that they maintained the same ethos as the iMac; they focused on ease of use, minimalism and style, becoming not just useful tech gadgets but status symbols in their own right.

Don’t Be Careless With Your Branding

The best contrast to the runaway success of Apple is the Apple of the early 1990s, which seemed to do the exact opposite of what it needed to do to succeed.

Apple attempted to get out of their perilous situation by making their computer product lines more complicated (the Performa, Quadra and Centris) and by attaching the Apple name to a range of terrible failures.

The Apple Newton is by far the most infamous, with the innovative technology ignored in favour of making fun of its failings, but there was also the even more expensive failure of the Apple Bandai Pippin, a games console platform that was overly expensive, in a saturated market and had no support.

These, along with other devices that were made by other companies but had the Apple logo put on them affected and eroded consumer trust.

Do Have A Long Term Plan

A brand extension is for life, not just for the life of a particular craze or fad, and if you plan on extending your brand to other product areas, it is important to think about how the extension fits into the long term plans for the company.

Without this, it appears like a brand is simply rushing to cash in on a particular trend, such as Crystal Pepsi for the ‘clear’ trend and Nike’s Fuel Band wearable technology.

Do Not Create Incongruent Products

Certain brand extensions defy understanding and expectations, and when this occurs it can only harm a brand’s reputation for quality.

Possibly the least understandable brand extension in history is when toothpaste company Colgate tried to enter the world of ready meals, which did not connect in any way to its core business and arguably undermined it.