In late 2010, Golden Living established a new, in-house consulting pharmacy company focusing on improving medication safety and patient outcomes. Certified geriatric pharmacists (CGPs) become part of the interdisciplinary clinical teams that care for patients. As you further explore the company, you quickly find that they operate nursing homes, assisted living facilities, provide hospice and home health and also have a staffing agency. Golden Living did not start that way. They grew into the company they are by recognizing where the market was heading, anticipating needs, stretching themselves and then developing complementary services that in essence “extended” their reach.
There is a term for that in marketing. It is called brand extension. Brand extension or brand stretching is a marketing strategy. A firm marketing a product with a well-developed image uses the same brand name in a different product category. The new product is called a spin-off. Organizations use this strategy to increase and leverage their good name and reputation also called brand equity. Expanding your product and service offerings through brand extensions is a key marketing strategy.
Golden Living leveraged their good name to delve into related categories of products and services. A consumer example is how Jello leveraged their expertise and renown in developing gelatin products and used it to create and market pudding pops.Stretching Your Thinking
Two classic brand extension stories should stimulate your thinking.
Once upon a time there was a rubber company named Michelin, incorporated in 1888. Soon after some gentleman by the name of Ford came up with the idea for the automobile, which by the way needed tires. Michelin was trying to figure out a way to get people interested in cars so as to increase their rubber output. They published the now famous Michelin Guide a way to get people interested in travel but not any kind of travel. Travel by car was the desired effect. Their Guides were so good they had the dubious distinction of being used by the Germans to help them get around Belgium when they invaded in WWII. But they survived that and have morphed into one of the most sought after guides for travel, choosing hotels and restaurants. Oh yes, it helped them sell a few tires along the way and turn them into the Michelin Tire Company.
When commuter rail lines were born, they generated no revenue on the weekend. So the intrepid rail line owners built amusement parks at either end of the lines and before you know it the trains are operating on the weekends. Not your typical brand extension but it solved a definite problem.Start Leveraging Your Brand
Here is how Energizer (the bunny company) did it while leveraging their name to expand their reach in the health care sector. They started by conducting a survey about baby boomers. They found that, not surprisingly, baby boomers are living longer and leading more active lives than their parents, yet still have room for improvement in long-term health. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of baby boomers feel younger than their chronological age, and more than half (55 percent) said they feel healthier than their parents were at the same age. Yet according to the National Center for Health Statistics, half of Americans in the 55 to 64 age group have high blood pressure and two in five are obese.
So based on a study that they originated and conducted they launched a program out of their specialty battery division entitled "KEEP GOING(R). Live Healthy" and teamed with well-known boomers and fitness expert Denise Austin to launch it. The company partnered with audiologists to provide expertise on hearing loss prevention, as well as aligning with physicians to provide tips on diabetes management and heart health.
Here is how they positioned it. According to Energizer, the program was a year-round campaign to educate people about better ways to live a healthy, active lifestyle -- with some help from key battery-powered devices.
Did you catch the last part? “With the help from key battery-powered devices” There is your brand extension. Live a healthier life and while you are using different devices to do so – glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, hearing aids, insulin pumps – consider powering them with Energizer batteries.What Can You Learn
Sponsor a Study
Energizer took it upon themselves to do original research based on timely and popular issues and audience segments – baby boomer health. What original research can you sponsor?Tie It To A Cause
They then took the results – boomers think they are healthy but really need work – and tied to a cause of getting fit. What is your cause?Collect Information
As you drive people to your web for more information, collect key information about them, their caregiving needs, their own needs. You will be better able to market based on the information and your ability to intersect the interests of your prospects.Tie It To Products and Services
At the end of the day, following these steps will help you build and extend existing services while understanding what services the market wants next.Why Brand Extensions Make Sense
Launching a new product is time consuming and needs a big budget to create awareness and to promote a product's benefits. Brand extension is a strategy that can reduce financial risk by using the parent brand name to enhance consumers' perception.
While there can be significant benefits in brand extension strategies, there can also be significant risks, resulting in a diluted or severely damaged brand image. Poor choices for brand extension may dilute and deteriorate the core brand and damage the brand equity.
A brand extension can be a great tool to increase brand awareness, bring together cause and community and tie back to your core mission. But it takes visionary leaders to reach beyond the comfort zone to accomplish this.