In a study of more than 300 brand extensions it was determined, and now widely accepted that there are eight types, each with its own unique leverage.
- Similar Product In A Different Form From The Original Parent Product. This is where a company changes the form of the product from the original parent product.
- Distinctive Flavor/Ingredient/Component In The New Item. When a brand “owns” a flavor, ingredient or component, there may be other categories where consumers want that property.
- Benefit/Attribute/Feature Owned. Many brands “own” a benefit, attribute or feature that can be extended.
- Expertise. Over time, certain brands may gain a reputation for having an expertise in a given area. Leverage can be achieved when extending into areas where this special expertise is deemed important.
- Companion Products. Some brand extensions are a “natural” companion to the products the company already makes.
- Vertical Extensions. Some brand extensions are vertical extensions of what they currently offer. A brand can use their “ingredient/component” heritage to launch products in a more (or sometimes less) finished form.
- Same Customer Base. Many brand extensions represent a marketer’s effort to sell something else to its customer base.
- Designer Image/Status. Certain brands convey status and hence create an image for the user.
For example, to move into new categories, Arm & Hammer leveraged a functional benefit: odor fighting. This strategy allowed the brand to extend progressively into everything from kitty litter to deodorant. While Motorola found brand extension success by focusing on categories where consumers gave it permission to extend. Motorola gained this understanding through research. Cordless phones and baby monitors are two areas where consumers prize Motorola’s “mission critical communication.”
Sometimes a brand extension is just another proof point for the brand promise, strengthening what the brand stands for. At other times, it makes the brand more relevant to new customer segments. Sometimes it can stretch the meaning of the brand beyond a particular product category, giving it a prolonged lifespan and greater flexibility for future growth.
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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education