“I have a riddle for you.” said the teacher. “If everything is sacred therefore nothing is sacred. What do I mean?”
“It is a paradox.” answered the student. “Can you give me another clue?”
“Think.” replied the teacher. “Use logic.”
The student thought for a few minutes. “If everything is sacred, everything is the same. There is no difference.”
“Very good.” said the teacher.
“What does this have to do with branding?” asked the student.
“It is law 10 from the book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. This is the law of extensions. This law states, The easiest way to a destroy a brand is to put its name on everything. How does this law relate to my riddle, if everything is sacred therefore nothing is sacred?”
The student thought again for a few minutes. “If everything is on sale where is the bargain?”
“Very good. You are on the right track. Apply that way of thinking to brands.”
“If everything is fat-free there is no comparison, there is no fat food.” said the student.
“Very good. The same concept happens to brands. When a brand extends its line, puts its name on all items, it actually weakens itself.”
“Can you give me an example?”
“Yes. Let me summarize some information on pages 79 – 87 from the The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. There are many brands and lines of beer. There is Bud, Bud Light, Bud Dry, Bud Ice, Miller Regular, Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Reserve, Miller Reserve Light, Miller Reserve Amber Ale, Coors, Coors Light, and Coors Extra Gold. There are many, many more beers. Do all these types of beer sell more beer?”
“Before this lesson, I would have said ‘yes.’” replied the student with a smile. “But why don’t these flavors sell more beer?”
“If Miller is your beer of choice chances are you drink just Miller. If you normally drink Miller Reserve and you try and like Miller Reserve Amber Ale, you just switched the flavor. Miller didn’t get a new customer.”
“But they may attract Bud and Coors customers.”
“Yes, and Bud will attract Coors and Miller customers and Coors will attract Miller and Bud customers.”
“The brand name dilutes itself as it appears on more products. Starbucks ran into that problem. Starbucks made its name selling premium coffee and through the ambiance of its stores. Soon you could buy Starbucks bottled coffee drinks at the supermarket. Do you find that ambiance in a supermarket? Then there was Starbucks ice cream. Does ice cream enhance the image of quality coffee?”
“Brands are like reputations. Each brand stands for something, whatever that niche is.” said the student.
“You are learning.” replied the teacher with a smile. Sometimes extending a brand literally sends the wrong message. For example, as mentioned on pages 85 – 87, Bayer aspirin created the Bayer Select Line of aspirin-free products to compete against aspirin-free products Tylenol and Advil. An aspirin company making aspirin-free products! What does a customer think when they need a pain reliever? ‘I like Bayer Aspirin it is a good established product. Aspirin-free? Why are we moving away from aspirin? Did I miss a news report about a new study? Maybe I shouldn’t use aspirin. Tylenol and Advil are the established non-aspirin pain relievers.’”
“The same happens when brands extend to light, healthy or fat-free. Heinz Light ketchup. Their regular ketchup has too many calories. I’ll buy the fat-free version. The regular Heinz ketchup just lost a sale. Campbell’s Healthy Request soup. Sounds good to me. I’ll buy the Healthy Request line, not the regular Campbell’s anymore.”
“How does a company get into new categories, like light, healthy, or fat-free?” asked the student.
“Create a new brand.”