Your branding is the foundation on which your company is built.
A strong brand identity and clear, consistent messaging is what allows you to stand out from the competition and be recognized for your products and services or even your brand colors and logo on their own.
With so much at stake with your branding, it can sometimes be confusing to know how to grow into other markets or develop new products that don’t fit as nicely into your curated niche.
However, in order to expand, it’s sometimes necessary to try something new and take your company in a different direction than what might be expected.
Brand extension is the term used when companies make this jump, but as a business tactic with a high amount of risk involved, it’s not always successful.
Take a look through this article to discover different types of brand extension strategies, brand extension examples that were well-received and examples that flopped, and tips to see if a brand extension is the right move for your business.
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What is Brand Extension?
Brand extension is a marketing strategy that uses an already established brand name to introduce a product to its target customer base.
Some companies will choose to launch a new branch of their company under a different name, but that creates a need to essentially start from scratch by building brand reputations and reliability.
Brand extensions are favorable to companies who want to use the benefits of their existing brand name to develop new products.
By using the existing brand name and introducing new products or services that are close to but outside of the typical reach of the branding identity, companies are able to showcase new ideas without having to start brand building from the ground up.
3 Types of Brand Extensions
There are a few different types of brand extension strategies that might be advantageous to your business.
Here are three different approaches you can take to brand extension:
1. Line Extensions
A line extension is a term used to describe brand extensions where a brand launches a new product line in a category that the brand is already associated with.
Therefore, the brand avoids the difficulties of adding an entirely new product category.
An example could include a drink company adding new flavors or a skincare company introducing a lotion with a new formula targeting a specific skin condition.
2. Complementary or Companion Extensions
Complementary product extensions, also known as companion extensions, are extensions where a brand introduces a product line that, while new, is still similar to the original line or is complementary to it in some way.
Examples could include a sports equipment company adding another activity to their offerings or a razor company adding a line of shaving creams.
3. Company Authority or Expertise Extension
A company authority or company expertise extension relies on the trust in a brand within an industry.
If an electronics giant added a smartphone to their product options, or a television system, camera, or video game, you probably wouldn’t second-guess it since the name is well-known in that arena.
6 Positive (and Negative) Brand Extension Examples
As a move with a lot of risks associated with it, brand extension examples range from the incredibly successful — with some you may not even recognize as extensions — to drastic failures that brands would rather you forget entirely.
Here are 3 positive and 3 negative brand extension examples to drive your strategy.
1. Dove Men+Care
Dove was a brand that mainly targeted women with its messaging of body confidence and cleanliness, along with product lines that featured soaps like the Beauty Bar and branding that used soft colors and logos.
In order to address the big hole in their consumer base, Dove created the Dove Men+Care branch of the business.
Dove Men+Care was a wonderful success and helped launch Dove from a $200m company to a multi-billion giant.
By taking its core product and adding messaging and product variations targeted at an entirely different audience, Dove kept to its stable core as a personal care brand while reaching new heights.
2. Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Clorox is another example of a brand that was able to host a successful brand extension by keeping its core image the same while exploring new territories.
As a cleaning chemical company known for its bleach and laundry products, it would be hard to expand into many product lines.
However, by exploring other extensions that would value a brand known for sparkling-white cleanliness, Clorox was able to adapt its bleach into household cleaners, the most well-known being the Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner.
After all, what better association could you come up with than sterilization and the bathroom?
3. Food Network Kitchen Supplies
The Food Network is a television giant, with an audience of well over 13 million viewers around the globe.
However, while looking into brand extension, Food Network decided to leave the safety of the entertainment world to the side and turn to kitchen and cookware products.
While certainly taking a risk as the Food Network ventured away not only from their product but from their entire industry, the brand extension was ultimately successful and Food Network pots, pans, utensils, and other cookware items are flying off the shelves.
4. Colgate Frozen Dinners
It’s almost impossible to talk about brand extension failures without talking about the Colgate frozen dinners.
From vegetables and rice to beef lasagna, the Colgate kitchen entrees were an unmitigated disaster (even though its own existence is questioned by some).
The biggest problem with this brand extension attempt was that Colgate ventured too far from its brand identity.
It’s one thing to go from cooking shows to cooking supplies, but the jump from dental care to frozen dinner was too far.
Just thinking about it tastes like a minty mistake.
5. Cosmopolitan Yogurt
In another example of a failed brand extension, food items were once again the downfall of this attempt by Cosmopolitan magazine.
And, similarly to the Colgate frozen dinners, it’s an odd jump to assume that people who enjoy reading your lifestyle magazine articles will want to eat your yogurt.
The extension didn’t work out, and soon Cosmopolitan yogurts were pulled from the shelves and the embarrassed company returned to its roots of advice columns and dating quizzes.
6. Samsonite Outerwear
Samsonite is a high-end, luxury brand known for its luggage, bags, and other travel equipment.
While making the leap from travel supplies to outerwear isn’t as drastic as toothpaste to lasagne, it still isn’t a clean transition.
The issue Samsonite faced wasn’t one of going too far, but rather of picking a product line to expand with that didn’t match with the upscale brand identity it had built.
The introduction of outerwear diminished the brand identity and the reputation of Samsonite, and as such, they no longer list outerwear on their website.
Is a Brand Extension Strategy Right for Me?
Brand extensions are not for everyone.
There is a high amount of risk associated with it, and even something simple like adding a new flavor or color to an existing product line can turn out poorly.
Here are a few considerations to see if a brand extension is the right strategy for your company:
- Is your brand already successful?
- Can you easily build on your existing identity?
- Are you looking to increase brand awareness?
- Are you trying to reduce market costs?
- Are you trying to exponentially grow your business?
- Has market research shown you gaps in your current product offerings?
- Are your brand managers confident about moving forward?
- Do test audiences approve of your new lines?
- Are you prepared for the possible negative repercussions?
How to Tell If Your Brand Extension Strategy Was Successful
A successful brand extension strategy will not only bring in new revenue from the additional product lines you’ve created, but you will also find that your brand equity and status have improved as well.
You’ll find more sales opportunities and boost your reputation among new audiences.
Once you’ve found success with a product extension, the odds that your other attempts will be likewise successful will turn in your favor.
If the public still respects and trusts the core of your brand but is prepared for new or alternative product lines, then continually expanding can become part of your long-term growth strategy.
Wrap Up: Brand extension is a growth strategy
And it can bring about great success in your company if you approach it carefully and have done your research well ahead of launch.
A successful product extension will strengthen your brand’s success with similar products, products that match the interests of your audience, or products in your industry that your reputation can carry.
If you are interested in building your own brand, check out our brand bundle and get started on constructing your foundation today.