Per Wikipedia, “Brand extension or brand stretching is a marketing strategy in which a firm marketing a product with a well-developed image uses the same brand name in a different product category. The new product is called a spin-off.”
Like people and lives and careers, brands grow, shift, and pivot to adapt or serve more or merely evolve.
There are a few problems brands run into when considering this:
- They do spin-offs before anyone knows or cares about the original brand.
- They do it in a misrelated category that confuses the customer.
- They simply do it to “widen their base” when there is no real need or demand for it.
- They misapply it to categories that never should be associated with the original rand displaying an obvious misunderstanding of its own values and what their brand stands for their customer.
Gary Vaynerchuk wrote, “Brand is about how someone feels in the moment when they interact with you or your business.”
Whether it’s personal, or business, branding serves a purpose: it defines you in the mind of your prospects, your followers, your advocates, your enemies, your allies, and the world.
Your Brand and Staying On Point
Just in the 1990s alone, 81% of new products were brand extensions of existing products, all with the “strategy” to introduce new brands and generate sales. Too often, this was a lazy, incompletely conceived approach to launching a new product line, like a badly conceived sequel to an original amazing Hollywood movie that simply didn’t need another sibling.
Lifestyle brands are interesting.
A few years ago, I branded a heated yoga studio in California and named it Hot Elevation Studios.
The name, brand identity, and design gave them a distinct differentiation from other studios in the area that might have been competition.
The brand and culture was the perfect fit for merchandise:
Is Your Brand Ready for a Brand Extension? 5 Signs to Look For
Recently, Jeanette, the relentless and endlessly energetic entrepreneur who owns Hot Elevation Studios called me with this request: “David, everyone loves our classes, but for some, it’s too hot. We are opening a new studio, a few degrees less and a few degrees away from our original studio for those who love our classes but want it less hot.”
So I had to look at and determine if they were ready for a spin-off.
My brand extension criteria:
- Will this new brand dilute the original brand?
- Is there a segment of customers who would enthusiastically embrace such an offering?
- Would the new brand extension add to and complement the brand values of the original brand?
- Will this serve a specific need and actually widen their offering and value to their community?
- Ultimately, will it simplify rather than confuse?
After conducting this audit, I saw there was an opportunity.
So I had to look at other factors:
- Could I develop a name that would be simple enough to clearly convey its distinction from the original hot studio?
- How to convey what it stood for to eliminate any confusion?
- How to make sure it stayed true to the original brand look and feel?
The new name was simple, on point and clear. And the design was intentionally minimal almost functioning to what we, in the industry, call a “word mark”:
And the slogan had to have the right attitude since this studio already had a decidedly playful yet disruptive voice as a brand: A COOLER SHADE OF HOT.
After all, slogans are powerful differentiators.
The genius behind the new brand extension is this:
- it stayed true to its “parent,”
- was from the same genes,
- and added to the values the brand already embraced and stood for, all while NOT alienating or confusing its customer base.
THE LESSON: Stay true to your brand when planning offspring in the form of brand extensions.
The right brand extension will not dilute the original brand.
In this case, it extended the values of the original brand so it appealed to those seeking its values, just a few degrees less than the original. All while staying true in design, in aesthetic, values and voice.
And if you’re a Star Wars fan who enjoys the various “spin-offs” George Lucas and company release, here is a salute to the recent Disney+ addition to the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian: