It’s an irresistible temptation for marketers to see how far their brands can stretch. In the endless search of brand growth, extending into new categories as a master brand can seem like a slam dunk.
As the brand consultancy Prophet put it:
“Most companies can simultaneously manage budgets and invest in their growth by strategically extending their master brands into new categories. Why? For one, the assurance of a familiar brand provides comfort and inspiration in times like these. Plus, consumers are seemingly more comfortable letting brands extend into new categories than most brand managers are. Finally, investing in a master brand is typically more efficient for the business than allocating limited budgets across a stable of brands.”
Yet the marketing world is littered with misguided line extensions, including Cosmopolitan Yogurt, Levi’s Suits, Colgate Ready Meals, Land Rover Coffee, Bic Perfume, and Harley Davidson Cake Kits.
David Taylor calls this phenomenon Brand Ego Tripping. Marketers tend to breath our own exhaust. It’s easy to get so excited about a new business opportunity on a two-by-two matrix that we lose sight of what consumers actually want. We lose sight of what our brand actually stands for. If we’re not careful, we get distracted from our core.
Not every brand is destined to become a master brand. Sometimes, it’s better to do one thing well. I’d love to hear your thoughts on when and how to extend a brand into new categories.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)