When it comes to building a brand online, offering unbeatable products and services is one of the key elements to success.
So what about when you decide to branch out into a new area? Perhaps you want to launch a new product that you’ve never offered before or you want to dip your toe in the water of a totally new service offering.
Well, it can go either way. Get it right and it can catapult your brand to unimaginable success – get it wrong though, and you may face financial ruin.
A brand extension is a process of expanding your brand to offer new services or products or even to operate in a whole new industry.
Getting it right can be hard, which is why in this article, we’ll explore eight brands that have smashed their brand extensions and what you can learn from each.
Brand extension, also known as brand stretching, is a marketing and sales strategy that brands use to open themselves up to wider market potential. Brands will take their existing and usually well-known brand name and put it on a whole new line or area of products.
Usually, brands will extend into products or services that are parallel to their existing offering. A brand extension allows successful brands to use their existing success and industry presence to launch something new, without having to start from scratch.
There are various different types of brand extensions for you to consider and, depending on your goals, you’ll want to pick the one that’s right for you.
A line extension is the most straightforward type of brand extension – in fact, there’s a chance you’ve already done it. A line extension is where a brand launches a new range of products that fall into the same category as the existing product line. For example, a candle brand may launch a special Christmas range of candles featuring favorite festive scents.
Customer Base Extension
Customer base extension is where you focus on a specific demographic within your audience and expand your products or services based on their needs. For example, a home furniture brand may choose to focus on first-time homeowners, offering starter kits and supplies for a first house move.
Complementary Product Extension
A complementary product extension sees brands launch new products that complement their existing lines. For example, a toothpaste brand may decide to launch toothbrushes to complement their existing products and target their customer base which they have determined is conscious about oral health.
Brand Lifestyle Extension
A brand lifestyle extension is a good choice of brand extension for companies that rely on the lifestyle they promote to customers. One of the best brand extension examples is Jeep. Famous for their cars that promote an outdoor lifestyle, the brand launched tents, bicycles, and camping equipment to help further promote this lifestyle.
Company Authority Extension
A company authority extension can be used when a brand is deemed an expert in their field. Once you have achieved this, you can use that expertise and authority to branch out into new products that people will trust. For example, you may be at the top of your game when it comes to pushchairs and prams, allowing you to use that authority and status to launch a range of car seats and cots that parents will trust thanks to your existing authority.
There are various reasons brand extensions can be beneficial to your business including:
- A profit boost. Not only do they give you the potential to make more sales and therefore more money, but as you already have an existing brand status, you won’t need to spend as much money on marketing and branding as you would if you were starting from scratch.
- A new audience. Brand extensions are a great way of getting yourselves noticed by a new, wider audience.
- Brand trust. Customers are much more likely to trust products and services if they can see that the company has experience in that sector already. At the same time, offering a wider range of products can help to increase customer loyalty.
- Brand revival. Sometimes brands can get tired, old, and appear outdated. A brand extension can be a great way to revive your brand by generating a buzz and reaching new customers.
Take a look at the eight brand extension examples below, all of whom launched successful new brand extensions.
Apple started out as a computer company but after evolving its own expertise, was able to extend its brand as per the needs of its customers. When digital music grew popular, Apple created the iPod, and when the market needed a great smartphone, Apple stepped forward with the iPhone.
The tech giant now has product lines spanning laptops, phones, earphones, and accessories as well as streaming services.
Apple has grown into the major international brand it is today through clever and strategic brand extensions that meet an audience need or gap in the market. This tech giant is able to use its status and expertise to build brand loyalty and trust in new product lines.
Google is another example of a tech brand that launched brand extensions in line with a rapidly moving market.
Starting out as the search engine we all know and love, as the tech landscape changed and advanced, so too did Google’s offering. Gmail, Gdrive, and Gdocs all launched with the sole purpose of making users’ lives technologically easier.
Google now even offers users Google Hangouts and Google smart home hubs, both of which are brand extensions that grew from an ever-changing market. Google knew that in order to stay at the top, it had to keep evolving and extending.
Even five years ago, Dyson was best known for its vacuum cleaners. Seen by many as the industry leader, it’s no surprise that Dyson used this authority to branch out into new product lines.
Fans and air purifiers were a more obvious step, however what many people didn’t see coming was the extension into hair dryers and hair stylers. The Dyson Airwrap is now one of the most popular hair tools in the market. Why? Because it’s made by a brand that people trust.
Dyson was already famous for its expertise and industry-leading technology and they used this to launch company authority brand extensions nobody saw coming but that everybody wanted to try.
Colgate’s brand extensions have been hit-and-miss, to say the least. Famous for its toothpaste, the brand decided it was time to expand and in the 1980s launched a line of frozen ready meals.
Yes, that’s right, you could enjoy a Colgate-branded Lasagna for dinner back in 1982. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the brand extension failed and nobody was interested in buying their dinner from their toothpaste brand.
Fast forward a few years and Colgate fared much better when it launched another brand extension, this time into the world of electric toothbrushes. This was the perfect plan. A new line of products that complement its existing ones all while using its authority and status in the oral health industry to encourage sales. A much better idea than making frozen dinners…
Virgin originally started out as a mail-order record store back in 1970. Since then the brand has grown into a record label with product lines spanning travel, leisure, consumer goods, and more.
It can seem to some like Virgin’s product lines are totally unrelated – after all, what does an experience day have to do with a record label? The reality, however, is that every one of Virgin’s brand extensions has been centered on creating a specific lifestyle for customers.
While Virgin has succeeded in creating a lifestyle for customers that “disrupts the status quo” not every brand extension they tried has worked. The less said about Virgin Cola the better…
Hootsuite is a great example of a successful brand launching new brand extensions in order to enhance its service offering to users.
The social media management platform was already seen as an industry leader when it branched out into an array of product extensions.
Each of the extensions is to be used alongside its existing service offering including Hootsuite Insights and Hootsuite Academy.
This is a great example of using your success to launch new products that complement and work with your existing offering, helping to open up your potential customer base and build brand loyalty.
RedBull may be best known for its energy drinks but the brand has cleverly used brand extensions to build a full lifestyle around the drinks.
RedBull now offers extreme sports, events, and clothing – all that link back to the limitless potential that the drink gives you.
Strategic lifestyle extensions mean that RedBull is now much more than just an energy drinks brand and is the go-to for risk-taking and physical performance.
Amazon is a success story of the ages, and much of that success is down to clever brand extensions.
Amazon started off as an online bookstore and is now the biggest online marketplace in the world… quite an achievement!
Over the years Amazon has launched various brand extensions including Amazon Fresh, a grocery delivery service, streaming service Amazon Prime, and virtual assistant Alexa.
Amazon is a great example of a brand who has utilized multiple different types of brand extensions to facilitate growth including new product lines (Amazon Fresh) and brand lifestyle extensions via Alexa and the Prime delivery service.
As you can see from these eight examples, there are a myriad of ways that you can utilize brand extensions to grow your brand and scale your ecommerce business.
While strategic and well-thought-out brand extensions can lead to great success, just like Colgate’s frozen ready meals, not everything is necessarily going to be the right fit.
Taking the time to discover what brand extensions will work for you and most importantly, what your audience wants or needs, is the key to success.
Now that you’ve finished this article, make sure to let us know in the comments which brand extension is your favorite and any extension success you’ve had of your own.