4 Brand Extensions and Why They Were Successful

Companies are finding that a customer-centric approach business serves them well.When brand extensions win over loyal brand consumers with a new product, it is a win with lasting benefits for the brand, including increased revenue and greater name recognition. But creating and executing a successful brand extension isn't as simple as placing an established brand logo on a new product and stocking it on the shelves. Even brand loyalists aren’t likely to make the leap to an entirely new product without first being properly convinced of its value. Brilliant brand extensions must demonstrate logic and leverage. Here are four successful brand extensions to serve as examples:

1. Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner

The Clorox brand is associated with cleanliness and is known for its bleach product. Years ago, the company was failing at the task of extending its brand beyond bleach. The company found that since “Clorox” was synonymous with chemical bleach, the public wasn’t interested in Clorox dishwasher detergent, or Clorox laundry detergent. It became clear that the company would have trouble marketing new products in areas where the strength and success of its bleach could actually present a problem. Consumers did not want to accidentally remove all the colors from their clothes, for instance. Regardless of the actual composition or gentleness of the new products the company was creating, the Clorox brand connoted strong chemical cleanliness to consumers.

So, when the company introduced toilet bowl cleaner, Clorox was able to create a product that perfectly lined up with public expectations and met a new need. After all, if consumers thought that the product was too strong for laundry and dishes, they would certainly believe it was strong enough for the areas in the home that are typically viewed as dirtiest. Thus, a toilet bowl is a place where consumers would want the brand’s trademark chemical cleanliness. The brand hit a home run with this brand extension, and the revelations that came from it – that extension could work if they were confined to the strong cleaning product category - informed a number of successful sanitizing products to follow. In this success story, adjusting their brand extensions to fit the perceptions of their brand, logic, and leverage converged.

2. O, The Oprah Magazine

One of the most successful magazine launches of all time, O, The Oprah Magazine made the crossover from T.V. to print look effortless. An extension of the television show, the magazine was also its own unique product, focusing on empowering readers to live their best lives. Oprah’s distinctive focus on self-improvement was easily translatable to print. The magazine leveraged the loyalty of Oprah's following, tapped into an audience ready and willing to change their lives, and logically persuaded them to improve their own stories. This is best exemplified by the magazine’s first cover ever in 2000, which featured an image of Oprah and the headline, “Live your best life! Start right here, right now!”

The magazine leveraged a uniquely passionate audience, the powerful Oprah brand, and took the logical leap of showcasing self-help and empowerment from the screen to the magazine rack. With more than 12 million readers every month, O, The Oprah Magazine is considered a brand extension success story.

3. Dove Men + Care

Dove, which began as a brand solely known for its bars of soap, grew to become a superpower in the shampoo, deodorant, and body wash markets. In the process of becoming a superpower, it went from a 200 million dollar company to a multi-billion dollar company with its aggressive expansion strategy.

Paramount to Dove’s success was ensuring that each new product had its own expectations so that one product’s performance did not impact the others. By following this strategy, Dove’s brand extension of new products has actually increased sales of Dove’s original soap bars.

Dove has many successful extensions that could be highlighted. Perhaps its most impressive feat to date, Dove was able to carve out a niche for men (despite having built a brand targeting women). From its soft color palette to its logo, Dove was created with women in mind. However, in 2010, Dove launched a line of products targeting men and was successful in building out the extension.

Dove Men + Care capitalized on a need in the market – at the time, very few products specifically for men were available. By leveraging research at the time which showed that men did not identify with the versions of the “real man” portrayed on television, Dove advertised its new product as one that could help men become more comfortable in their own skin. In combination with Dove’s existing brand perception as being for real women, this extension was a logical one that offered a distinct value to its target audience.

4. Disney English

Another great example of brand positioning is Disney. With movies, T.V. shows, theme parks, coloring books, and baby clothing (to name only five of its many products), Disney has learned to wield logic and leverage in a masterful way.

One successful brand extension is the Disney English-language training center. Though less ingrained in popular culture than other Disney products, this particular extension has been incredibly successful in China. It is especially important to highlight because as an international brand, it faced even more obstacles than other extensions by navigating a vastly different culture and an audience with an entirely different set of values.

After identifying an international opportunity, Disney leveraged its unique strengths, like its unparalleled customer experience and focus on entertaining children, to break into an incredibly lucrative niche in China. Disney English, center for teaching young children the English language, opened in Shanghai in 2008, according to McKinsey & Company, simultaneous with the development of the city’s Disneyland park. Disney English is now in more than nine cities in China, with more than 30 locations. Further, the extension is helping the main Disney brand to flourish in a country that is not as familiar with its trademark “magic.” As McKinsey & Company’s article notes, “In a country where Disney’s films and merchandising have yet to establish a broad market presence, using language learning to attract small children and their families looks like a great entry point to the world’s biggest market and a sound investment in nurturing a future consumer base for Disney products.” In this way, the extension capitalizes on both leverage and logic, bringing value to both consumers and the main brand in a number of ways.

The Future of Brand Extensions

In a vastly competitive brand space where businesses are often vying for the same consumers and customer loyalty, it is critical that companies cut through the noise with creative products. What is the recipe for a successful brand extension? Simply put, companies must expand their reach, demonstrate their value, and grow their business with products that capitalize on logic and leverage.

For students pursuing an MBA degree online with the hopes of utilizing their education to build a company or improve a brand, it is essential that you learn to think outside the box. That, in itself, is a winning business strategy.

If you are interested in building a solid business foundation, where you study the theories that can help shape brand extensions, you should consider pursuing an advanced business degree online. Visit Washington State University, ranked #22 among “Best Online MBA Programs” by U.S. News & World Report

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