Don’t Extend Yourself Too Far

“By far the most violated law in our book is the Law Of Line Extension. What’s even more diabolical is that line extension is a process that takes place continuously, with almost no conscious effort on the part of the corporation. It’s like a closet or a desk drawer that fills up with almost no effort on your part. One day a company is tightly focused on a single product that is highly profitable. The next day the same company is spread thin over many products and is losing money.”  The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing brings us law #12, which is the Law of Line Extension, and as you can see here, it is a problem for many consumer products companies.  I understand why this law is broken so often because any good leader wants to take a success and ride the wave. They want to milk that momentum for as long and as far as they can. The problem is it doesn’t work in most cases.

The book says it has a lot to do with the leaders in the company that believe in the brand so much, they are “blinded by their loyalty.” I agree but say it a little differently. I think there is a lot of ego involved in these decisions and companies just think that because they have done well with one product, they will do just as well with the next one. Many times they forget about all of the hard work that it took to make those past products successful and they think that their brand can do anything. Isn’t the diversion a problem as well? In my blog post on the Law Of Focus I talk about companies that try to be everything to everybody and in most cases that doesn’t work out too well; same thing here. Extensions can take your focus off of your core business which can send you to a place you don’t want to be.

I will give some credit to Select Comfort, Therapedic and Tempur-Pedic on this point and I’m sure there are others. These companies have done very well in developing sleep accessories that compliment their brand in adjacent spaces. The product development teams have found great solutions and are driving their business outside of their core competency. These are definitely the exception however, as there are many more failures than successes.

Nothing Sleeps Like A Hog
Nothing Sleeps Like A Hog

Want to avoid missing the sweet spot? In the mattress industry I have seen several attempts by bedding producers to establish relationships with other consumer brands outside of our industry, brands in the entertainment space or even fashion designers, and they rarely work. Borrowed interest can be a good thing, just make sure that the extension makes sense. For example, I don’t see a Harley Davidson mattress doing that well. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good hog, but I want to ride it not sleep on it.

If you want a great example of how to do a brand extension the right way, just look at Apple. I am pretty sure they are the benchmark. If you are successful with portable music players, phones, television devices, tablets, computers, and entertainment content among other things, you are the undisputed KING.

PS-Extra bonus tip!: On a personal note, I just started to binge watch Game of Thrones. I have heard references to it many times but was never interested enough to tune in. Do yourself a favor…subscribe to HBO Now and start on season one; you can always cancel. I am starting season five so I flew through 40 something episodes. It is AWESOME. Who is your favorite character? Tell me in the comments section!

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