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Can you extend your brand too far?

Pet head bottles

Brand extension - taking the look, feel and reputation of a product or company and applying it to something new. It's a fine theory and has been done time and time again, very successfully, by thousands of companies.  Apple are arguably the masters of brand extension - a nerdy, not particularly dominant computer maker who tried their hand at MP3 players and then mobile phones with some success.  It's now reached the point where they could release the 'i-whisk' and they'd sell it by the container load.  That's brand extension at it's best.

But sometimes you get the feeling that a good marketing strategy may have gone slightly adrift.

The very pretty looking packaging shot above is from TIGI, makers of trendy haircare products under the Bed Head brand - squarely aimed at the late teens to early thirties market. To be fair, they're doing very well in that market and they'e obviously hatched a cunning brand extension plan. You'll notice the shampoo bottles above have a distinctly 'doggy' look to them. Yep, this is Pet Head. I'm guessing the conversation went something like this:

Marketing man one - "I wonder how many of our trendy young customers have pets"

Marketing man two - "Probably quite a few of them, why"

Marketing man one - "Well, those pets have hair don't they........"

Brilliant - the posh, trendy twenty-somethings can now groom the hair of their posh, trendy cats and dogs with the same TIGI products that they use and trust. That's got to be a winner, right?

But brand association works both ways.

This way works fine - Bed Head customer sees Pet Head, associates brand and buys. All good. But what if, despite their advertising efforts, I've never heard of Bed Head. I see Pet Head first and decide to give it a try and it works brilliantly on my pampered pooch. Then I see Bed Head and instantly recognise the brand and I ask myself this question:

"Do I really want to wash my hair with dog shampoo........"

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