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Bring Brands to Life


Most established brands have long ago exhausted any news they can provide to potential customers. Instead, advertising is used to tell versions of the same basic story. It’s hard to generate excitement for existing brands selling the same basic product. Line extensions help, but are merely variations on a theme – various sizes, types, flavours, etc. Consumer excitement about these is generally limited.

So, how do you invigorate brands and drive excitement? Brand extensions that represent significant new products in new product categories can do just that. When a brand extension is launched, marketers have the opportunity to change the meaning and associations with the parent brand, which can generate buzz among a totally new audience, and inject new life into the core brand.

Brand extensions can bring old brands to life by raising a dulled awareness of a parent product and its brand.

 In a recent survey, “Best and Worst Brand Extensions of 2012,” conducted by Parham Santana and Adweek, Nestlé Crunch Girl Scout Cookie Candy Bars were judged the favourite with more than 11,000 votes cast. Beyond being a crowd favourite, this brand extension generated huge awareness for the Nestlé Crunch brand. Nothing Nestlé could have said in advertising about the existing candy bar would have had such an impact as this new product. Although Nestlé Crunch no doubt has near 100% awareness, the new Girl Scout product re-focussed the brand into consumer consciousness. New product brand extensions can change consumer perceptions of a brand.

Many people fret about how extensions can dilute the meaning of a brand. In reality, poorly done brand extensions fail, but have little chance of damaging a brand. However, well thought-through brand extensions that succeed can definitely change the perceptions and positioning of a brand. That is one of the goals of brand extension.

Duracell Powermats were chosen as a “best” runner-up in the “Best and Worst Brand Extensions” survey. The battery category had become a commodity over the years. What news have we about Duracell? Parent company Procter & Gamble had struggled for years to turn this commodity product into a high-margin business. The answer: a brand extension to change the consumer perception of the brand from commodity to a premium new line of consumer electronics. Duracell leveraged its expertise in batteries in a new but related category by launching Duracell Powermats and expanded how people think about the brand.

Brand extensions can increase sales of the parent product because a new audience in a different category is using the brand.

Many cases of brand extension have shown that sales of the parent brand increased when the extension was launched. This is because the parent brand has greater top-of-mind awareness that existed before and increased advertising exposure lifts all boats.

Also, by definition, a brand extension is a new product in a different category. In most cases, consumers in the new category are unique from those using the parent product category. These new customers not only mean new business, they may give new consideration to purchasing the parent product.

Orville Redenbacher’s Ready-to-Eat Popcorn is another example. This new item,also selected as a “best” in the Adweek survey, illustrates how launching a product that is similar but sold in a different section of the grocery can increase sales.  Orville Redenbacher was missing popcorn sales for out-of-home snacks and school or work lunch boxes. Orville Redenbacher’s Ready-to-Eat was a way to generate news about the brand and increase sales. The product boosted sales, not by fighting competitive brands of kernel popcorn in a market-share battle, but by finding new customers or even the same customers who wanted a new, more convenient way to enjoy Orville Redenbacher popcorn.

So the next time you want to breath new life into an established brand, consider launching new products that leverage the power of brand extension. And, to learn how these and other brands have successfully extended, you may want to read, “10 Ways to Extend Your Brand,” a comprehensive survey of 500+ brand extensions we conducted with Dr. Edward M. Tauber, a pioneer of brand extension research and a Research Associate at Parham Santana. Let us know what you think.