A brand extension is another product in the company's range that uses a similar brand name. For example, Cherry Coke is a brand extension of the original Coca- Cola. Overall family branding is where one brand name is used for a range of products, such as Heinz Varieties, and line family branding is where a smaller group of brands carries a single identity.
In each case the aim is to convey a message of quality to the consumer by borrowing from the established reputation of the parent brand, and to appeal to the target market, who are already familiar with the parent brand. Properly carried out, the establishment of a brand is a long-term project, which can be expensive: this leads to an emphasis by some firms on brand extensions that are intended to maximise the return on the investment made in establishing the brand. In some cases, brands have been extended to the breaking-point; relatively few brands (Virgin being one example) can be extended apparently indefinitely, and even as well-established a brand as Levi Strauss jeans could not extend itself to smart suits (the company’s attempt to do so in the early 1980s turned to disaster). Brand extensions should always bear some relationship to the original brand; Virgin’s ability to extend relies on the brand’s image as being original and fresh-thinking, coupled with a combination of solidity and practicality. Even so, the bad publicity which surrounded Virgin Trains at the beginning of the century is thought to have damaged the brand, and the company has been forced to make major investments in their rolling stock in order to recover some of the lost ground.
Amore recent development has been compositioning, in which products are grouped under a brand name to create a composite value greater than that of the components. Joint marketing and distribution alliances come under this heading. The products concerned do not necessarily come from the same producer, and may not even be in the same general category: for example, Disneyland has 'official airlines' or 'official ferry' companies to transport visitors to its theme parks.
A further extension of this concept is brand architecture, which is concerned with setting up ‘partner’ brands and creating a balance between branding at the product level and corporate or banner levels.
Within the international arena, firms have the opportunity to extend the brand across international frontiers. This raises fundamental strategic issues: for example, should the brand be globalised, with the firm offering a standard package throughout the world (as does Coca-Cola), or should the brand be adapted for each market (as does Heinz)? Some firms brand globally, but advertise locally, while others organise task groups to handle the brand on a global scale.
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