There are a number of ways that brand extensions can resurrect and give life to old brands:
Most well-known existing brands have long ago exhausted any news they can provide to potential customers. Instead, advertising tells versions of the same basic story told for decades. As a result, it is hard to generate excitement for existing brands selling the same product. Line extensions can help, but they are just variations on a theme - new sizes, types, versions, or minor improvements.
So how do you invigorate brands with new meaning and new news that can really gain attention? Brand extensions that are attention getting entries can do just that. When a new brand extension is launched, there is potential for changing the meaning and associations with the parent brand and generating buzz among the existing audience and a totally new one.
Another benefit is the additional advertising push behind brand extensions. The additional dollars spent behind the brand extension, in and of itself, can help the parent brand increase sales. So both the new news and the increased dollars often lead to parent product sales change.
Jell-O gelatin was first marketed in 1897. It is still successful but the key to sales is purchase frequency. To an extent, this depends on households being reminded to use it and make repeat purchases. A brand extension that gained a lot of attention among the target (children and their mothers) was Jell-O Slime. This product is a cross between a toy and a food. Children are told “Don’t play with your food.” This product turns that parental command on its ear. This novelty brand extension brings the brand to mind in a new and creative way. Whether or not this new product has substantial sales or even longevity, it can bring new life to the old Jell-O brand.
Burt Shavitz was a beekeeper who, with a partner, began selling candles and then moved to selling Burt’s Bees lip balm, made from bees wax, in 1984. Recognizing that people believed (rightly or wrongly) that bees wax had many positive properties, especially sealing in moisture, changed the company until it was sold to Clorox for almost a billion dollars. Lip balm is hardly that size business. Brand extensions changed the company from a minor player to a major one. Not only did the expansion into a variety of categories offer increased sales potential, but it created a much wider brand awareness and changed perception. Note that the line of products introduced was positioned with the same natural folksy image of Burt.
Bringing old brands new life is a central strategy of many firms that sell products developed long ago. If this is not pursued, brands languish and die. Parent brands are often the cash cow of the company so there is a strong reason to keep sales growing and not declining. Brand extensions are one way to expand the base of users of the parent brand, generate buzz for the brand name, increase sales of the parent and create a new profitable business at the same time.