10 Types of Brand Extension

10 Types of Brand Extension

In studying more than 500 brand extensions, Brand Extension Research determined that there are 10 types. Each has its own unique form of leverage.

Reverse Ideation, a technique we developed to generate brand extension ideas for clients, employs learning from the study of these 10 types:

1. Shift the Form. This is where a company changes the form of the product from the original parent product.

An example is (frozen) Snickers Ice Cream Bars identified in our brand extension study. The original Snickers bar is a shelf stable candy. The brand extension is a similar product, but in a different form. Jell-O Portable Pudding and Pudding Cups is Jell-O pudding in a different form and section of the store.
My Brand Extension Snickers Ice Cream Bars

2. Transfer a Component. When a brand “owns” a flavor, ingredient or component, there may be other categories where consumers want that property.

Peanut butter is a characteristic ingredient in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups candy. Chocolate is a characteristic ingredient of Hershey. Brand Extension Research identified Reese’s Peanut Butter as a logical extension. This product capitalizes on this association. Research also suggested Hershey chocolate milk.

My Brand Extension Hershey’s Chocolate Milk

3. Transfer a Benefit. Many brands “own” a benefit, attribute or feature that can be extended.

Brand Extension Research showed ArmorAll that that brand was defined by automotive surface protection. This protection can go beyond vinyl dressing. Paint needs protecting also. Arm & Hammer “owns” a benefit of deodorizing. Their baking soda product has claimed that it removes odors from refrigerators, etc. As a result, they extended the brand into other products such as Arm & Hammer underarm deodorant and cat litter deodorizer.

My Brand Extension Armor All Car Wax

4. Leverage a Special Expertise. Over time, certain brands may gain a reputation for having an expertise in a given area. Leverage can be achieved when extending into areas where this special expertise is deemed important.

Honda’s expertise in reliable engines led to lawn mowers, gas powered generators and a variety of other gasoline engine powered devices. What brand comes to mind when we think of baby products? – Gerber. As a result of this expertise, they successfully launched Gerber Baby Powder, Gerber Baby Bottles, etc. Sara Lee is known for baked desserts, so why not other baked goods like bread.

SaraLee Bread

5. Launch Companion Products. Some brand extensions are a “natural” companion to the products the company already makes.

Contadina was a tomato paste and sauce brand. In brand extension research, consumers thought Contadina pasta was a logical companion product. Pasta would have the leverage of the Italian heritage of the parent. Refrigerated Contadina  pasta and sauce was launched, now rebranded Buitoni.

Aunt Jemima (the pancake mix brand) launched pancake syrup, as a companion to compete with Log Cabin syrup.

My Brand Extension Buitoni Refrigerated Pasta

Some brand extensions are vertical extensions of what they currently offer. A brand can use their “ingredient/component” heritage to launch products in a more (or sometimes less) finished form.

Nestlé’s Toll House chocolate refrigerated cookies is an example. Most Toll House chocolate chips are used in cookies, so why not make a brand of Toll House chocolate chip cookies. Mrs. Fields Cookies were ready-to-eat. They offered frozen cookie dough, moving backwards as a vertical extension. Rice Krispies has always been used in kids’ treats. Kellogg offered Rice Krispies Treats ready-to-eat.

Nestle Toll House Cookie Mix

6.Leverage Your Customer Base. Many brand extensions represent a marketer’s effort to sell something else to its customer base.

This works particularly well when that customer base is large and to some extent captive. VISA launched travelers checks directed to its credit card customers.

Visa Travelers Check

7. Leverage a Lifestyle. Certain brands convey status and hence create an image for the user.

When we are talking about types of Brand Extension we cannot allow ourselves to emit the human factor, their desires and their lifestyle. Designer clothing labels have been extended to furniture, jewelry, perfume, cosmetics and a host of other items. Some brands promote a lifestyle.  These can extend to items that people “wear,” as a badge of identifying themselves with that lifestyle.

  • Tommy Bahama extended their brand from clothing into furniture.
  • Harley Davidson developed an extensive collection of licensed clothing and accessories.
    Tommy Bahama Bed

    8. Leverage a Celebrity Expertise. Some celebrities have a special expertise that enables them to brand and endorse a product or line of products.

    • Martha Stewart is an expert in home decorating. As a result, a variety of products for the home were launched under the Martha Stewart Living Brand.
      Martha Stewart Paint

9. Leverage a Celebrity Lifestyle. Some celebrities have a lifestyle which others aspire to. This enables them to attract buyers to their product or line of products.

  • Paris Hilton, George Foreman and many other wealthy stars have branded products that have become big sellers.
  • One of the longest lasting successes is the George Foreman Grill.
    George Foreman Grill

10. Change the Game. Some brands can add words to their brand name that completely change the perception of the brand. This then allows new brand extensions.

An example is Vaseline Intensive Care. The addition of the words  ”Intensive Care” changed the perception of Vaseline. It changed it from a greasy product to a healing product without the negative image. This change permitted the launch of a number of products with the revised brand name.

Vaseline Intensive Care Skin Lotion

For more information please visit the following articles: 

Principles on Brand Extension and Characteristics of Success


If you are inclined to learn more, please consider reading the book on the subject.