Brand Extension 101

We could liken the task of extending or expanding the familiarity and strength of a brand to the analogy of natural connection and relationship of an expanded sandwich section on a restaurant menu if the restaurant is a leader in that category, or by adding a type of wine to the store shelves due to popular demand by customers.

Ah, if only adding elements to connect to your brand was that simple. Well, we’ve discovered that it’s not that far off – and that having a solid product and a well thought out brand development strategy is key. Success comes when the same brand name is used in a different product category, like a restaurant selling a signature sauce or creating a specialty line of service ware.

Over the years of growing our restaurant consulting business, we have learned a thing or two about not resting on our laurels. From branding to rebranding and product launches to line extensions, we’ve concentrated on creating successful brand development concepts and launching new products for our clients that leverage the same brand name in a different product category.

For example, we spearheaded the successful two-fold extension of Founding Farmers’ award-winning true food & drink restaurant concept and brand with:

  1. The publication of The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food and Drink From the Restaurant Owned by American Family Farmers; a collection of farmhouse favorite recipes from the restaurant.
  2. By building upon the prominence and success of the restaurant’s pre-prohibition style bar, and award-winning cocktails and talent, with the development of a proprietary line of spirits. Using the concept moniker and brand filter of “From Farm to Still,” the line includes Founding Farmers Rye Whisky, and the recently released Farm Gin.

What brand extension guiding principles do we put into play?

Know the Brand/Concept. A strong foundation is the start. A great brand with potential for extension success is comprised of an authentic and solid message, and a convincing and compelling story; all wrapped inside a clear concept identity/image/logo and branding so that the next product or service to be added can be packaged and sold.

Determination. We can tell when a client is hungry for more and has the capacity to take on a project for brand extension. A fierce determination to make the concept not only work, but grow feeds our creativity, which is essential to generating a full-scale, realistic go-forward plan using the brand concept as our model.

Foresight. We make it clear to our clients that a brand extension is more than just creating a product to sell – it’s an investment in the future longevity of the concept. It is important to emphasize: success comes from comprehensive knowledge of the brand message, while staying true to the experience or product offered, and having the foresight to see past the first product.

Finding Your Niche. Is there a market for your brand extension? What feedback are you getting from guests about your concept and the messaging behind it? Are they interested in one specific aspect of your business? If the answers to these questions are clear and positive, then you’ve found your product niche. Although concepts will evolve, the basic principles of the brand will ultimately stand the test of time as long as they connect back to what brought guests to you in the first place.

Marketing & Media Strategy. Since much of marketing and guest/customer outreach and communication today occurs online and through social media, it is vital to utilize these platforms as part of your marketing and promotional strategy for whatever new feature you’re sharing. As the strong story behind your brand attracted and engaged over time, the more guests and consumers identify with your brand message means the more successful your marketing campaign strategy will be.

Farm Gin label on bottle

*photo courtesy: Founding Farmers: Farm Gin