#1 SHIFT THE FORM
Change the form of an existing product.
There are five main elements you can change to shift your product’s form enough to enter a new category: delivery method, preservation method, in-store placement, retail outlet and ingredient profile. Changing even one ingredient in your product can extend your brand into a new category.
Snickers successfully replaced nougat with ice cream to create the wildly popular Snickers Ice Cream Bars.
Starbucks mastered shifting the form with the introduction of ready- to-drink beverages in 1996. Consumers can grab a Frappuccino anywhere, from the gas station to the grocery store.
#2 TRANSFER A COMPONENT
Take a component, flavor, ingredient or color that’s closely associated with your brand and create a different product.
Every product or service on the market is made up of multiple components. Some products are so closely associated with one of these components that they “own” it. Your brand might own a flavor, ingredient, scent, color, or something else entirely. Often, multiple brands lay claim to the same component, but you can still leverage that element to extend your brand into new categories and channels.
The Ghirardelli name is practically synonymous with chocolate, so the brand easily extended into brownie mix by transferring this flavor.
Dove started as a bar soap with one- quarter cleansing cream, but Unilever didn’t tie the brand to this narrow component. Instead, it defined Dove more broadly to extend the brand across the entire personal care segment. Dove established a foothold with soap and then expanded into deodorant, lotion, shampoo, and more without any consistent component. The brand found success by marketing those products with a compelling idea: Real beauty for ordinary women.
#3 TRANSFER A BENEFIT
Take a benefit closely associated with your brand and create a product in a different category where that benefit is desired.
Arm & Hammer leverages a functional benefit— eliminating odors—across seemingly unrelated categories. The brand successfully transfers this key benefit to laundry detergent, dryer sheets, cat litter, toothpaste, and even deodorant.
The LoJack brand started out as a way for police to locate stolen cars. But the company cleverly transferred its key benefit —finding something that’s missing—to provide peace of mind for caregivers of people with dementia. Two very different audiences cared deeply about the same benefit.
#4 LEVERAGE A SPECIAL EXPERTISE
Take your brand’s special expertise and create a product in a different category where this expertise is desirable.
Normally, we think of people as being experts, but brands can fall into that category, too. Your brand is an expert if consumers look to it for knowledge about a specific topic. A brand might be perceived as anything from a cooking guru to a go-to source for travel information. If consumers view your brand as an expert, you may be able to leverage that expertise to launch a successful brand extension.
Honda is an expert on reliable engines. They extended to lawnmowers, snowmobiles and other categories where engine reliability is critical.
#5 SELL COMPANION PRODUCTS
Offer products that are frequently used with your parent product to create a brand extension in the companion category.
You don’t have to be a matchmaker to spot perfect product couples: chips and dip, mattresses and sheets and coffee and donuts. No matter what category, there’s probably something your customers already use with your brand. And putting your brand’s name on that companion product may be the way to a brand extension success.
#6 LEVERAGE YOUR CUSTOMER BASE
Sell something to your core customer base where the only leverage is your brand’s recognition and reputation.
Relationships matter. Even if your brand doesn’t own a specific product component or benefit, sometimes you can leverage the trust and rapport you’ve built up with your customer base to launch a brand extension. Maybe your brand is adored by moms or a favorite among pet lovers. Leveraging the strength of these customer relationships can lead to success in another category.
Smith & Wesson is known for guns, but the company sells those firearms to police departments and security personnel as well as average consumers. To extend its reach into these special customer bases, the brand sells guard booths, barriers, fencing, and even police mountain bikes.
#7 LEVERAGE A LIFESTYLE
Extend to products that reinforce a way of living, culture, set of values or interests associated with your brand.
Identity can be a tricky thing. A true lifestyle brand helps consumers communicate to themselves and others who they are and how they want to live. Instead of a benefit or component, lifestyle brands often own a distinct visual style that translates to a wide range of products. This look and feel represents a way of life that might encompass everything from values and interests to a distinct culture.
Jeep represents the freedom of driving off- road, and to capitalize on this perception, the brand has licensed its name for a range of products: clothing, knives, tents, bicycles, baby strollers, and more.
Nike’s founder’s observation, “If you have a body, you are an athlete,” has set the tone and direction for the brand. Originally a line of running shoes, Nike-branded products now include athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities.
#8 LEVERAGE A CELEBRITY EXPERTISE
Create a new product endorsed by a celebrity who is perceived to have a special expertise in that category.
You might call these red-carpet brand extensions. Many products leverage the name of a noted celebrity to boost sales, but some stars are famous for more than their faces. A celebrity might be seen as an expert at anything from cooking to managing money. This perceived expertise can help brand extensions in related categories succeed in product sales.
Movie star Paul Newman was known for his activism, and this expertise drives Newman’s Own products, which donates all profits to charity.
#9 LEVERAGE A CELEBRITY LIFESTYLE
Create a new product endorsed by a celebrity who has a lifestyle that attracts aspirational-minded consumers.
Celebrities live glamorous, envy-worthy lives: fancy clothes, big houses, and successful careers. So, it’s no wonder that some consumers aspire to those star trappings. When celebrities represent aspirational lifestyles, their brand names can extend successfully into products related to that lifestyle. Many fashion and beauty products succeed with this strategy, and celebrity lifestyle brands often have a design element that’s characteristic of the celebrity.
Cindy Crawford Home and Style - The supermodel extended her brand to various style-related categories including home, fashion and beauty.
#10 CHANGE THE GAME
Create a new product that uses modifier words to change consumers’ perceptions of your core product in a new category
Does a brand have a weak spot? Sometimes a brand has negative association and in need of refreshment, or is in a very narrow category. These factors can hold a brand back from reaching into other product categories. But a few well-chosen words may change the game. Adding modifiers can make a brand fit into a category that would otherwise be out of reach.
Re-imagine the original petroleum jelly—an intrinsically greasy product— as a luxurious, healthful lotion = Vaseline Intensive Care lotion.