The golden rule of branding is simple: extend your business, not your brand. Say hello to brand extensions gone crazy, and meet the Mars, Twix, and Milky Way coffee capsules.
Recently I walked into an XXL version of the Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn. It is always interesting to see what products are sold in these bigger supermarkets.
In the coffee section, I noticed immediately the candy bar coffee cups. They were hard to miss, conveniently positioned at eye height.
When expanding the business there is a natural tension between brand owners and brands. Brand owners love their brands and find it natural to extend them into new and different categories. Brands, on the other hand, want to stay focused and become the leader of their category. Brands are right. Think about football players for a moment. Have you ever seen a premium league football player and gymnastic athlete in the same person? Of course not. Sports managers would not even consider their athletes to focus on many sports at the same time. They do not even remotely believe ‘their’ athlete might become leading in both fields.
The same goes for brands people buy. When a know or leading candy bar brand sells coffee cups, does that make them a leader in coffee? Not for those who care about coffee! In their minds, the quality of the focused brand is always better. The thinking goes, ‘if they only do that, the brand must be good’.
Mars and many other candy bar brands love to explore line extensions, probably from the believe that it is good to have consumers to engage with the brand at many different points of sale, functioning as a reminder for the real deal (the candy bar). It seems to me though that while that might be working it cannot be that buyers take a known Candy bar brands serious in coffee. In the same way chocolate bars of the “Hawaii Premium Kona Coffee Company” would not be taken serious by candy bar lovers either.
My advice is simple: keep your brand focused within the category it is known for. Any side steps will cost money, which needs to be balanced carefully against the value of the brand reminder. In other words: what is the loss in revenue for Mars candy bars if there are no Mars coffee cups at all.
Now I do have a question: who has purchased “Candy Bar” Coffee? Or other products like chocolade drinks, ice creams? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
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Quite a few readers reach out to me with brand thoughts, ideas, and challenges. As it is always a lot of fun to learn what is going on I decided to make things a bit easier. On a few Fridays in the next couple of weeks, you can book a free discovery call me with me.
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