Every brand is associated with a core product, an area in which it is seen to be legitimate. But strong brands can extend this legitimacy beyond their core product with no loss in coherence.
A striking example of this is Apple’s entry into the music industry. On the face of it, there is no reason that a computer manufacturer should sell songs and films. But the brand’s leaders thought about the consumer experience cycle and identified its wider needs relating to mobility, buying songs or albums, storage and classification. They then developed an all-encompassing offer, responding fully to consumer needs: the iPod, iTunes and iStore. In doing so, it acquired a considerable competitive advantage.
Strategic Research has developed a series of approaches to measure the potential for a brand’s extension into new categories. Key concepts and questions include:
- Brand migration: how to merge two brands successfully
- Innovation: can new products and services, for example those created using Blue Ocean Strategy, be housed under an existing brand or should a new brand be created?
- Brand portfolio management: what brand should be used for which category? If the company needs to rationalize a brand portfolio and “kill” a weak brand, which other brand in the portfolio should be used to capture sales?