Too often we see clients jump into brand stretch initiatives without too much care or caution. There seems to be an inherent belief that they will be cheaper and quicker than launching full blown innovations.
However, brand extensions ARE innovations from our (and certainly the consumer’s!) point of view. They need just as much time, care and attention as any other product or service you are considering bringing to the market.
Below is our checklist of questions to ask yourself to set your brand extensions up for the best possible chance of success.
The Consumer Connection:
- Have you identified what your brand owns in the consumer’s mind?
- Have you identified all areas in which the consumer gives your brand permission to play. Which areas are totally off-limits and why?
- Do you have a clear understanding of whether your brand is over-extended (when its identity does not cause an emotional response)? Or under-extended (it has a strong emotional response but a limited product offer)?
- Are you clear about what consumers in the category think the various brands offer and stand for? It is likely to be quite different to how the brands are marketed and sold.
- Have you identified all the ways your brand and others in its category have made compromises with the consumer? Have you found ways to break those compromises?
- Have you identified new categories for growth? Can you create new categories that meet previously unmet consumer needs?
- What are the emotional positioning gaps for your brand and your competitors? This will give you clues on how your brand extension can enhance and build your brand equity. It will also occupy any unmet emotional needs in the broader category.
Target New Consumers:
- Have you targeted new market segments to which you would like your brand to appeal?
- Have you explored ways to make your brand more relevant to the next generation of consumers?
Brand Stretch / Innovation Planning:
- Do you have a plan that specifies what categories your brand will enter next, in what order it will enter them and in which time frame?
- Have you considered taking your brand global as an alternative growth strategy to brand extension?
- Have you considered acquisition as a way to extend the brand?
- Have you developed decision criteria to determine whether an extension should: a) sit under the master brand, b) sit under an existing or new sub-brand or c) be an endorsed brand?
- Are you looking at it from a category / trade perspective rather than just how consumers see it? What is the main thread of your sales story to a prospective buyer?
Validation/ Proof of Concept:
- How do you screen all new brand extension ideas for their fit with the brand promise and impact on brand equity?
- Are you sure that the brand’s positive associations will not become negative when associated with a new product category?
- Have you thoroughly researched how proposed brand extensions might reposition the original brand in consumers’ minds?