Making Sure Your Brand Extensions Make Sense
When licensing out or extending your brand into ancillary categories, it is critical that you stay true to your brand essence and don’t just license the brand for the sake of driving revenue. Not only do you risk creating consumer confusion and mistrust, but you risk serious brand dilution.
A few weeks ago, I read in the trades that Best Buy Canada was launching a new online lifestyle brand, Viva, that will focus on personal care, health and wellness. It made me pause and wonder what they were thinking. I don’t know about you, but I always equate Best Buy with electronics and home entertainment. So, what would inspire someone to buy their body wash on a Best Buy website over, say, Walgreens.com?
Whenever I have worked on licensing out a brand, we have always started with the question “what categories make the most sense?” From there, we identify a long list of companies that fall into that category that we feel would be good partners. We develop our marketing materials and our roll-out strategy and we start making calls. Of course, I am simplifying the process enormously, but you get the gist.
But, what happens when you are contacted by a company whose product doesn’t “fit” with the brand? You need to make a choice. Do you do what is right and true to the brand or do you go for the money?
Personally, I always recommend going with the former option. For example, when I worked on Teletubbies licensing, the brand was all about educating and nurturing healthy, happy children under 2. One of the categories I handled was consumables and we had to focus on food items that were appropriate for these very young kids. In fact, we even went so far as to hire a nutritionist to ensure that our first food product (fruit snacks) would be relatively healthy and easy for our youthful audience to consume.
When I worked on licensing Popular Mechanics, we focused on home improvement, automotive and technology products. Because Popular Mechanics bath products also wouldn’t make any sense! And not only did we not want to confuse our core consumer, but we didn’t want to dilute the brand by extending it into completely unrelated categories. In my humble opinion, sometimes the money just isn’t worth it!