No doubt about it, brand extension is tempting. Why waste all that time creating a new brand for a new sector, when you could simply extend one you made earlier?

Sadly it doesn’t work like that. People like to pigeonhole, and never more so than with brands. As soon as you blur the boundaries of what a brand stands for, its power diminishes.

We talked elsewhere about how Volvo in the US collapsed when they decided to ditch ‘safety’. That’s because they threw away 50 years of differentiating brand heritage – 50 years of pigeonholing that helped them to dominate a particular sector of the market.

And focusing more tightly on what makes you special can bring about an increase in sales.

Say you’re launching a cosmetics brand, entering one of the most competitive markets there is. Do you increase your range of products to include men, the young, the old, etc, hoping that something will stick with someone?

“Focusing more tightly on what makes you special can bring about an increase in sales”

Or do you narrow your focus, to make it vividly clear to the buying public precisely who you’re targeting, and what you offer to that group above all others?

Always aim for the latter. It’s infinitely better to have a brand that strongly appeals to one person in 1000 – which, if you think about it, is still a pretty large bunch of people – rather than a brand that doesn’t appeal strongly to anyone.


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