For some thoughtful discussion of brand extensions, read Jennifer Rice in "What's Your Brand Mantra?" Rice took some flak last month for writing that Weber--famous for charcoal grills--did the right thing in extending its brand to gas grills. Now she says:
- Amazon has "definitely overextended itself to a generic 'online shopping destination'"
- Virgin Group, on the other hand, is so closely identified with the "rebel" persona of founder Richard Branson that new extensions are consistent with its brand identity--as long as those extensions are also rebellious
- Apple and 3M can expand their respective brands into a wide range of products because both companies' brand code is "innovation"
Rice defends her original position on Weber, saying in a comment that "Weber was an innovator in charcoal, but a 'me-too' in gas."
Read all the other comments, too; there's some interesting stuff there, including this challenge from Mike: "[H]ow can a brand strategist ensure that their [sic] brand is extensible? I get the sense that new products often require a highly focused brand strategy. Yet later this focused, specific, narrow brand might not translate to other market segments."
Were brand strategists even involved in the Harley-Davidson cake-decorating-kit fiasco? If so, are they still on the payroll?