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Can Brand Extensions Weaken A Brand?


Can Brand Extensions Weaken A Brand?

We regularly answer marketing questions of all types here on Branding Strategy Insider. Today, Shashwat, a senior marketer in Chennai, India asks this question on brand extension strategy.

“I am working for a soap manufacturer based in India. As you may know, the market here is dominated by HUL (Hindustan Unilever Limited) and its many brands. Our company is looking to enter new personal care categories (shampoo etc.) with the same brand name.

My question relates specifically to brand extensions, do you think that an extension like this, even if it is into a related category will weaken the brand? I can think only of Dove as a brand here in India which has successfully introduced other personal care products.”

Thanks for your question Shashwat. With brand extensions, one must first understand what brand associations are most closely tied to the brand in question. Any brand extension into a new product category must reinforce one of those primary associations without creating new negative, conflicting or confusing associations for the brand. If this rule is followed, the brand extension will actually reinforce what the brand stands for. If this rule is not followed, the brand extension could be confusing or negative for the brand as seen many times with brand extensions like these: Frito-Lay Lemonade, BIC Perfume and Pantyhose, LifeSavers Soda, Colgate Kitchen Entrees, Cosmopolitan (Magazine) Yogurt, Ben-Gay Aspirin, Cheetos-flavored Lip Balm, and Lamborghini Notebook Computers to name a few. In your pursuit of a successful brand extension — remember — associations for the brand and for its entrance into the new product category should be tested via marketing research before the extension is pursued.

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1 Comment

Chris Radford on March 14th, 2012 said

If you know the reasons why people buy your soap brand (other than price) then you understand the most important thing about your brand. If you are not sure about this. Then I would encourage you to find this out before moving into a new category. You can do this with formal or informal market research by talking with consumers and customers.

Once you know this, then the question is can you harness this reputation of your brand in the new category. If your reputation is relevant to the new category then you have a good chance. If it is not then you will struggle and may weaken your brand.

Dove is a good case study, but do not just metoo Dove (they will win). Find your own path.

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