Brand Extension: In The Name Of Growth

August 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Adweek_Best and Worst Brand Extensions Graphic

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Last Wednesday, I wrote about the week’s buzziest ad, HelloFlo’s “The Camp Gyno.”  HelloFlo, the monthly that-time-of-the-month subscription service, conceived of and released the video to promote the launch of a new product, the Period Starter Kit.  With this new product, created for the parents of young girls in anticipation of their first period, HelloFlo extends their promise to “Simplify your period,” to also provide “Everything she needs for her first period,” for your daughter’s big day (well, one of them, anyways).

Once I moved beyond the bloody brilliant ad, to consider the new product itself, well, I realized that it too is bloody brilliant.  Really, how could someone have not thought of it sooner?  But it took HelloFlo (the name is a riff on “Aunt Flo”) to create what was for them a natural brand extension.  The company’s original offering, launched in March of this year, is not rocket science, but makes more sense than most in a world of monthly subscription services.  With the period starter kit, they’ve potentially expanded their market and have created a real opportunity for growth.  The new product launched in September.

HelloFlo provides a perfect example of leveraging your current product, positioning and awareness to create an additional revenue stream.  Seems simple enough.  Other instructive examples:

  • Cottonelle’s Flushable Cleansing Cloths, also accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek ad, “Test Your Cleaning Logic: The Salon,” in which hair salon clients are treated to a “waterless shampoo.”  How much sense does that make? Right, not much, which is exactly the point.  To quote directly from the ad, “one, two for number two.”  Dry plus wet.  Why sell one product when you can make a convincing argument that two is better?
  • Dollar Shave Club Shave Butter – check.  Dollar Shave Club One Wipe Charlies, buttwipes for men – I’m not so sure, in spite of the video, “Let’s Talk About #2,” a clever play on words for their second potentially viral video (#2) and “number two.”
  • launch of a Design-Your-Own Furniture custom furniture offering in Europe, shifting it’s competitive focus away from flash sale sites, towards Ikea and Amazon.  The jury is out.
  • The McDonald’s McRib – a raging hit.  The McDonald’s McLobster, McLean Deluxe and McHotDog – all flops.

You get the idea.  The world is littered with both good and bad extensions. To wit, in February, AdWeek published a list of The Best (and Worst) Brand Extensions.

If you’re a startup or an established small (even medium-sized) business, the same rules apply.  In fact, they’re probably more urgent given the lack of ability to financially absorb a big miss.

Is the product or service strongly related to what you are selling/doing now, so that existing clients and prospects readily associate you with both the old and new?  Can you use the branding you’ve created and awareness you’ve already established?  Is there overlap with your current customer set?

Brand extensions are necessary in the name of growth.  Just make like HelloFlo and pick the right one.


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