It’s a seemingly natural development of a corporate or product brand persona.
As a business grows over time, its audience grows. As the audience grows, hopefully so do the sales figures. After a while there are 101 other things that have been brought into the business. Maybe it’s personnel, maybe it’s distribution. Whatever they may be, they have been added because they have become necessary in order for the business to continue that growth.
Now, all of a sudden selling 100 widgets a week isn’t enough to sustain the (new-sized) business. We need to sell 1,000.
Brand Extension, For Extension’s Sake
And that’s when the organization often comes to the conclusion to add something new. Not “new” new, however. More like a variation on a theme, an extension of the brand. Cadbury goes after Nutella by making their own chocolate spread. A wedding photographer decides to extend their reach by photographing babies. A web developer thinks about adding in-house corporate video animation services.
Before extending your brand, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Is it because it’s the right thing to do? Or is it simply because you can?
If you’re extending your brand because it’s the right thing to do – there’s a clear benefit / difference / advantage doing it the new way – then your audience will love you for it. Apple’s iPod / iPhone / iPad weren’t the first MP3 players / touchscreen phones / tablet devices on the market, but their audience saw them as adding something to what was there already. Perception skyrocketed, closely followed by market share – and ultimately revenues.
If, however, you’re extending your brand because you have a strong position in a particular area and plan to knock out the competition because of it, then you’re probably not adding much to the customer experience. Customers might see a slight gain – convenience, speed, maybe even price. However your brand doesn’t really grow in stature much as a result.
From your audience’s point-of-view you had a chance to show them some more of the magic that attracted them to you in the first place, but you blew it by bullying the other guys out of the way.