The Six Golden Rules to Brand Extension

Building your business through brand extension
During tough market conditions, brand or product line extensions might just be the best way for your business to stay healthy, especially if they’re not something you spend much time thinking about. When done right, brand extensions can either be a positive way to build stronger and more profitable relationships with your clients and customers. When done poorly, brand extensions can be expensive experiments that drain cash flow and confuse your market’s understanding of your business’ proposition.

Loyalty and Trust
One of the greatest benefits of building a strong brand is the loyalty and trust that you build with your clients and customers. As purchasers of products and services, people will always prefer to deal with someone they have a trusted relationship with, over forming a new relationship without established trust. Adding a product or service offering to your brand that is relevant to the needs of your customer can not only have a positive effect on revenue, but also further enhance the relationships your customers have with your brand.

Real estate agents extends themselves
Melbourne real estate agent; Marshall White recently developed a value-add service for clients preparing their homes for sale – huge removal and self storage trailers. Parked out front of a house sporting an ‘upcoming auction’ sign, the over-sized blue and gold trailer not only drew attention to the house on behalf of the vendor, but also provided a high traffic billboard – all for the benefit of Marshall White.


We recently sold our house through Marshall White, hiring an off-site self-storage unit in the process. We not only invested a reasonable sum in doing that, but also hours of weekend time carting our much loved (if little needed) household junk over to the storage unit. During the four months we had the unit, we visited many times to retrieve the odd needed item, and then at the end of the process had to cart it all back again. This whole process would have been made immensely more simple by the availability of a giant, secure trailer.

Which leads me to the six golden rules of brand extension.
Golden Rule No.1 – Brand Alignment
The universal mistake common to almost all failed Brand extensions; the new product or service did not relate directly and positively to the business’ brand, it’s proposition, what it stood for in the minds of its market. When aligned with the values and proposition of the brand, the product extension is half way to being successful.

Golden Rule No.2 – Understand your Market
What would your customers and clients most value? What is it you could bring to their lives that would make the greatest positive impact? The answers to this question most usually lie in the behaviors of your clients and customers either up-stream or down-stream from their interaction with you and your business. By observing, discussing and understanding how and why your customers behave in the way they do will provide all the gfround you need for identifying new product extension ideas.

Golden Rule N0.3 – Research
What are your competitors doing? What are your peers in other markets locally and abroad doing? What are the strongest trends impacting the lives of your customers. By spending time on the internet investigating, you may just short-cut the whole process, at the worst you’ll be doing some useful competitor analysis.

Golden Rule No.4 – Brainstorm for Ideas
Get your team together (include everyone with an imagination), play back for them the research you have done, your target market profile and their behaviors. Throw the subject open for discussion and white-board the ideas.The more ideas the better, don’t discount anything at this stage of the process – many good ideas were binned before their potential was identified.

Golden Rule No.5 – R&D
Assess the ideas for brand alignment, cost to execute, and brand promotion and commercial potential. List the best three ideas. If you have a large enough team, develop and execute all three giving one person responsibility for each. If your team is smaller, focus on the best idea only and develop that to execution before considering your other ideas. Consider these brand extensions as products that you can individualise and package-up to own.

Golden Rule No.6 – Market like Crazy
Market your brand extensions to guess who? – your current clients and customers, old clients and customers and potential clients and customers. Add the new product or service to your existing marketing and advertising campaigns.

The undeniable value of great brand extension
Had Marshall White have had this brand extension when we were making our decision about which agent to engage to sell out house, they would have had an even greater point of differentiation. Just as importantly, they would also have pocketed the additional revenue that we invested in another business.

If you’d like to get together with us to discuss ideas for extending the product and service of your brand, give us a shout.



  1. I love the debate around brand extension. As you move beyond where your brand has traditionally operated the process of uncovering new and exciting areas into which you can extend can be a real buzz. It must be one of the most rewarding aspects of being a marketer – almost like panning for gold!

    I wonder how the brand extension debates run at Virgin?

  2. Harvey, I imagine Virgin’s brand debates would be driven by a mindset of ‘What can’t we do’. As long as it’s a challenger position, it seems there’s almost no market they wouldn’t consider.

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