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The Art of Creating Profitable Brand Extensions

By August 15, 2019February 10th, 2020No Comments

If you’ve ever been on the hunt to hire a branding agency, you’ve probably noticed most of them only specialize in personal branding. Sadly, that means there’s very little real education on aspects of business such as brand extensions – and that ends now!

Let’s start with the basics – what are brand extensions? It’s simple.

Creating a Brand extension means using an already established brand name to launch a new product – potentially in a completely different niche. As always, to help you understand how it works, I’ll show you how not to do it.

Brand Extensions Turned Nightmare: The Big Brands Edition


brand extensions, branding queen, personal branding, brand strategy


Let’s talk about what happens when a business creates the wrong brand extensions because of relying too heavily on brand authority. Here’s the thing – even if you have strong brand positioning and a very successful business, that in no way means anything you launch will be a success.

Yes, branding is powerful and crafting a great positioning holds many advantages, but authority is not everything. Having brand authority in one niche doesn’t mean you should venture into a different one and start, let’s say, your own clothing line or sell diaries.

For starters, it sure didn’t mean Harley-Davidson should have launched a cake decorating kit, hoping kids would want to recreate their bikes in icing. It also didn’t mean the lighter company Zippo should have created a lighter-shaped perfume (how would you expect it to smell?).

What about when the Kardashian family launched a Kardashian-branded credit card? It was one of their first failed ventures, and undoubtedly the largest one at the time. It didn’t make any sense to enter this particular industry as seeing their faces on credit cards did nothing for bank users.

I look around daily and I see so many people going after brand extensions that don’t fit with the brands they’ve already built. Many businesses have failed product lines because they didn’t put enough thought into them.

In short, the most important thing you need to know is that brand extensions need to make sense to your audience. As an example, I had a t-shirt line when it didn’t make sense for my brand – and after seeing the next 5 points, you’ll know exactly why.

The Ultra-Simple Guide to Creating Brand Extensions

1. Create a similar product in a different category.

A fantastic example of a successful extension is when Baileys decided to venture into the iced coffee market by launching Baileys Iced Coffee. The new brand fits the parent brand perfectly and strengthens its identity, because it’s a complementary product to what they already had.

2. Use your authority in a specific area

Honda is very well-known for their reliable engines – so don’t you think it made perfect sense for them to start creating land mowers? On the other hand, how successful would they have been if they’d launched a clothing line or a perfume instead?

3. Create a vertical brand extension

A vertical brand extension means you are launching products that go backwards – meaning,  the brand starts offering products along the chain of development. For instance, Mrs. Fields Cookies were ready-to-eat cookies, but then the brand introduced frozen cookie dough, moving backwards as a vertical extension – and, of course, it was a success.

4. Create complementary products/services

My agency is a fantastic example of this – our in-house team offers branding and marketing services, but we have a multitude of partners offering services that the businesses who hire us might be looking for – PR, speaker training, influencer marketing, etc.

If you’re a copywriter, for example, you can partner with an editor or a web designer to offer a more rounded service.

Don’t forget: the most important thing is that it makes sense to your audience. Before creating a brand extension you need to do a sufficient amount of research – big brands do focus groups, small businesses do surveys. Your customers will always be the ones mostly dictating the direction your brand goes – not you.

Want to work with my team on creating a brand extension? Let’s talk.

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