8 Types of Brand Extension
In studying more than 300 brand extensions, Brand Extension Research determined that there are eight types. Each has its own unique type of leverage.

1. Similar product in a different form from the original parent product. This is where a company changes the form of the product from the original parent product.

An example is (frozen) Snickers Ice Cream Bars identified in our brand extension study. The original Snickers bar is a shelf stable candy. The brand extension is a similar product, but in a different form. Jell-O Portable Pudding and Pudding Cups is Jell-O pudding in a different form and section of the store.

2. Distinctive flavor/ingredient/component in the new item. When a brand “owns” a flavor, ingredient or component, there may be other categories where consumers want that property.

Peanut butter is a characteristic ingredient in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups candy. Chocolate is a characteristic ingredient of Hershey. Brand Extension Research identified Reese’s Peanut Butter as a logical extension that capitalizes on this association. Research also suggested Hershey chocolate milk.

3. Benefit/attribute/feature owned. Many brands “own” a benefit, attribute or feature that can be extended.

Brand Extension Research showed ArmorAll that that brand was defined by automotive surface protection – which can go beyond vinyl dressing. Paint needs protecting also. Arm & Hammer “owns” a benefit of deodorizing. Their baking soda product has claimed that it removes odors from refrigerators, etc. As a result, they extended the brand into other products such as Arm & Hammer underarm deodorant and cat litter deodorizer.

4. Expertise. Over time, certain brands may gain a reputation for having an expertise in a given area. Leverage can be achieved when extending into areas where this special expertise is deemed important.

Honda’s expertise in reliable engines led to lawn mowers, gas powered generators and a variety of other gasoline engine powered devices. What brand comes to mind when we think of baby products? – Gerber. As a result of this acceptance of their expertise, they successfully launched Gerber Baby Powder, Gerber Baby Bottles, etc. Sara Lee is known for baked desserts, so why not other baked goods like bread.

5. Companion products. Some brand extensions are a “natural” companion to the products the company already makes.

Contadina (now Buitoni) was a tomato paste and sauce brand. In brand extension research, consumers thought Contadina pasta was a logical companion product that would have the leverage of the Italian heritage of the parent. Aunt Jemima (the pancake mix brand) launched pancake syrup, as a companion to compete with Log Cabin syrup.

6. Vertical extensions. Some brand extensions are vertical extensions of what they currently offer. A brand can use their “ingredient/component” heritage to launch products in a more (or sometimes less) finished form.

Nestlé’s Toll House chocolate refrigerated cookies is an example. Most Toll House chocolate chips are used in cookies, so why not make a brand of Toll House chocolate chip cookies. Mrs. Fields Cookies were ready-to-eat. They offered frozen cookie dough, moving backwards as a vertical extension. Rice Krispies has always been used in kids' treats. Kellogg offered Rice Krispies Treats ready-to-eat.

7. Same customer base. Many brand extensions represent a marketer’s effort to sell something else to its customer base.

This works particularly well when that customer base is large and to some extent captive. VISA launched travelers checks directed to its credit card customers.

8. Designer image/status. Certain brands convey status and hence create an image for the user.

Designer clothing labels have been extended to furniture, jewelry, perfume, cosmetics and a host of other items. Some brands promote a lifestyle and can extend to items that people “wear,” as a badge of identifying themselves with that lifestyle.

Tommy Bahama extended their brand from clothing into furniture.
A notable success is Harley Davidson. Their extensive collection of licensed
lifestyle items goes way beyond any expertise inherent in the brand.