Some products of services are closely related usually because they are used together on the same occasion or at least on some occasions.
Certain products come to mind as companions such as these:
In reality, most products or services have a companion – some close-in and obvious, others not top-of-mind but still with a connection. Because companions are not always obvious, pretend that any branded product or service being considered has a companion. Now, brainstorm what it might be.
Goodyear is a well-known brand of tire but the company is also selling products that are often used with tires:
Goodyear Tire Pump
Goodyear Car Jack
Goodyear Ratchet Tie Downs
Creativity is key to brand extension but the starting point is to identify possible definitions of the business that the brand occupies. Rather than just stating the obvious that Goodyear is in the tire business (product category definition), think more broadly about the benefits and purposes to imagine definitions that suggest a range of brand extension possibilities. The companion products Goodyear has launched clearly go beyond the assumption that they should be limited to selling tires.
Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn is a familiar brand of popcorn kernels designed to be popped at home. The company developed specialized kernels of corn that would pop well and the resulting popcorn would be fluffy and tasty. What companion products go with popping corn? When people eat popcorn, they use a large bowl, a microwave or skillet, and butter and salt to go on the finished product. Could this popping corn brand be extended to specialized popping equipment such as corn poppers, microwave popping corn bags or buttery sauce. Also, what products contain popcorn where it is an ingredient? Exploring all these questions can help identify companion products.
Microsoft began as a software company for early versions of personal computers. So, obviously, a computer is a natural companion to the software. Initially, Microsoft did not enter the hardware side of the business. The Surface laptop is the extension that finally entered the market. What other companions are used with software or computers: mouse, watch, and USB drives. Defining a business beyond a product description (computer software) opens the possibility for growth. Evaluating a brand to identify possible companion items is a simple way to find logical brand extensions.
A number of brand extensions are companions by necessity. Many ball point pens require ink cartridges as do computer printers. Razors require blades. Keurig developed a coffee machine that requires coffee pods. Many manufacturers have licensed their brand to reflect various types or flavors of coffee sold in these cups. These natural brand extensions had a significant impact on the coffee business taking brands historically outside of the coffee industry into the category. This opportunity also created a threat to traditional coffee companies as once dominant brands now faced very new competition.