Some brand extensions conjure the response, “Why didn’t they do that sooner?” while others evoke questions such as, “Why on Earth did they do that?” Brands looking to expand can take a few lessons from companies that got it right.
Sell similar products
Many brands offer products used alongside the parent brand—a formula that has worked well in general. Think Duracell PowerMats, Gain dish soap, Planters peanut butter, or Tide Pods. Those are examples of logical next steps when it comes to brands.
Tootsie Rolls put their confections into lollypops, similar to how Snickers added ice cream into a frozen treat that tastes a lot like a frozen Snickers candy bar. Active wear outfitter Lululemon has a little sister, ivivva athletica, which sells active wear for girls and teens. Yoplait finally caught on that Greek yogurt is “in” when it launched Yoplait Greek.
Transfer a component
Brands that take a component, flavor, ingredient or scent closely associated with it have found success expanding the product.
Jack Daniels has leveraged the popularity of its whiskey into delicious meat marinades. The brand recognition that comes from authentic Southern whiskey transfers nicely when thinking about a juicy piece of barbecued steak or chicken.
When Iams came on the market to offer pet insurance, it got a lot of nods—the move made sense because the pet care market doesn’t have a big-name brand outside of traditional insurance carriers.
Add star sparkle
Celebrities who have formed their own brands have thrived—well, some of them, at least. Singer Jessica Simpson has a very successful line of clothing, while rapper Dr. Dre’s Beats by Dre headphones are among the best on the market. Newman’s Own has remained a popular brand, reaching from dog food to microwave popcorn, and even wine.
Several fashion icons have expanded their brands for success. Giorgio Armani has his own hotel chain while Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa have a line of Lenox china. The key message there: Our style rules, so will this. And for these brands, it’s paid off.
Widen the platform
Other brands do well when they branch out. Southern chef Paula Deen has used her love of cooking, background in the restaurant business and bubbly personality to create and promote a line of cookware, spices, dressings, sauces, and books. She’s essentially followed suit with Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart, as both have launched related lines and publications around their domestic passions. Sir Richard Branson happens to be lucky in branding—he can put his name to just about anything and it will take off._
Bring out a positive
It’s possible for brands with a somewhat-negative reputation to expand their brand into something more positive. While Clorox is recognized for pungent bleach, it played on the idea of enticing scents to produce Clorox Fraganzia, a line of scented cleaning products.
Ikea may not have negative connotations associated with its brand, but it’s changing the playing field by entering the hotel business. Now, just as you’ve always wanted to, you can sleep in Ikea.
For some brands, these methods work—for others, not so much. It all requires proper planning and, of course, a little bit of good luck.