How far can you extend your brand?
There are obvious opportunities in extending a brand, from reaching new consumer segments to defending scarce shelf space, but many rightly worry about the longer-term downsides, most notably diluting the meaning of the brand.1,2
How far can a brand be stretched? Authors Christensen, Cook and Hall provide a simple approach for thinking through extensions.3 A strong brand stands for something meaningful in customers’ minds—it is associated with a particular purpose, or doing a specific job. Extending to additional products that do the same job in new ways (i.e., product extensions) is a straightforward way to extend under one brand. For example, Sonos is a strong brand for wireless music. Extending to different varieties of speakers under the same brand makes sense.
But a brand extension that gets away from the original brand purpose is likely to dilute the brand and cause confusion, ultimately eroding the brand by leaving brand-related expectations unfulfilled by a product designed to do something else.