Be One Thing

line extension does not work
Is your brand going in different directions? Be one thing, not many

One of the worst things that can happen to a brand is to have immediate success. This can become a temptation for line extension. Big brands do this all the time to their own peril.

The situation works like this. A major brand is successful with selling dish soap. Their name becomes well known and is a connotation for green living and pure production processes.

Now that they have a captive audience, they start to promote car wash soap under the same name. The problem is that people’s minds don’t work this way. We think one thing. We think a coke is a dark soda. It is not a gelatin dessert. That belongs to another company. A name means one thing in our minds, not two.

When you have success in your domain, then it is important to narrow the focus and continue to promote your success around that brand. Make it the de facto in your industry.

Perhaps you sell services. If you are known for magazine advertising, then trying to let the market know you do CRM consulting under the same name will confuse everyone. Are you a sales and advertising company? Think about what people say to others when they refer you. Should they tell them about everything you do? They will only say one thing. Which one will you commit to?

That is the hard part – committing. It means saying “No” to other opportunities, but it also means gaining great victories with your core product or service. Trying to be many things to many people is a tested strategy for losing sales opportunities and producing mediocre results.

The better thing to do is to create a second company for your brand. It may be less convenient managing more operations, sales, marketing, etc. But it will make your offering and positioning clear to your prospective customers.

You can do some things to leverage each brand like making a cross-referral program or promoting the other company. But the key thing is to keep them separate. That is how your customers think. It’s more about the way our minds work than it is about the convenience of selling something or borrowing success from one product to another.

Have you been thinking about new products or services? What are your thoughts about keeping brands separate?

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