Monday, October 09, 2006

Brand Stretching - GENIUS, SON!

Brand Stretching: V: To stretch a brand beyond where it normally performs.

Brand stretching means taking your brand into a whole new market. It’s the Caterpillar Boots strategy. As distinct from brand exploitation (your logo on merchandise) and brand extension (from Cadbury chocolate to Flake).

The general formula for success is 1+1=3

Nivea Sun drew upon Nivea’s heritage in skincare, it also made the main brand sexier. Sun worship is natural, hedonistic and lets face it bikini clad.

The core principles are as follows:

1. have a good enough brand
YES: Versace Palazzo hotel
NO: McDonald’s Arches hotel (that’s a real example, it’s in Zurich)

2. enter hot markets, with growth, dynamism or simply buzz
YES: Nivea Sun
NO: Club Med shower gel

3. stick with audiences who already love your brand
YES: Armani Casa home design and furnishings for yuppies
NO: Levi’s suits

4. it just has to ‘click’ (even if that’s just in hindsight)
YES: Apple iPod
No: microsoft XBox

5. think and act like a start up
YES: the launch of Playstation (1) a geurilla media spectacular
NO: the eventual flopping out of Sony MP3 players

The last point is critical. A Nielsen study in the 90s showed that launches under existing brand names were no more (or less) successful than new brands. the suspicion is that a new brand puts more effort in; this is their one shot.

The methodology.

A. break your brand into numerous part credentials
B. use these to invent new products, services, concepts in a different market
C. get into conversation; seek informants and partners and talent who know how to make these often naive but different ideas into a functioning reality in the new market

If you took the whole Caterpillar brand (industrial machinery multinational) you’d never get to boots. But both have excellent gripping treads, rugged performance and a certain appeal to the 4 year old in all men.

I have found this methodology to work excellently across a number of projects. i cant say what the ideas were because while they wouldnt have to shoot me, their lawyers would be entitled to have a pop!

So lets take a hypothetical one instead. What if IKEA (who I know well, and am starting a new project with, but who I have never worked on brand stretching with) were looking for new brand stretching ideas? They have already done some thrilling extensions eg pet furniture, IKEA homes (ready furnished and affordable), IKEA food (just launching; an extension of the cafe). But what about…

IKEA COMPUTERS: funky, functional and shockingly affordable

IKEA HOME EFFICIENCY: the social values applied to solar panels, monitoring energy use, plus of course the storage solutions which make daily life so much more lievable

IKEA SEX BOOKS & TOYS: a more thrilling topic for their competence in instructions and clever objects

IKEA SENIOR: accessible, thoughtful design which makes kitchens, stairs and so on work for (customers’) elderly (parents)

IKEA TRANSPORT: perhaps a new take on the motorised bicycle/with secure trailer for kids, shopping and of course flat packs; a clever hybrid solution to the pressing prolkems of city living; only this time outside the home

IKEA LOTTERY; based on their vision of improving the lives of ‘the many’ - with all profits to urban regeneration

IKEA NURSERIES; a key social support, unaffordable and poorly managed as a sector, an extension of the instore creche

Those examples are deliberately off the cuff and hastily sketched. I just want to show the workings. I’ve found that bar a few lucky quick wins, it generally takes a lot of patient digging to unearth the star ideas which are truly lateral and yet ‘RIGHT’.

Alright, Circle... Get to it.


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