Celebrity, wine and cats
- July 9, 2013
All aboard the brand wagon—trending now are celebrities extending their brands into wines, beers and spirits. Film stars like Drew Barrymore, Francis Ford Coppola, and Brangelina, rockers like Pearl Jam and even sports heroes like Keyshawn Johnson all hope their bubbly offerings will get their fans loaded and loyal.
For celebrities, wise brand stretch can convert 15 minutes of fame into long-term financial dividends. Jessica Simpson might have easily been relegated to “that ditz with the pipes from the MTV Newlyweds show,” if she hadn’t successfully converted her short-lived spotlight into a perfume, clothing, bag and shoe line.
Twenty years ago, no one would have believed brides would be shopping Disney for their dresses. Now, thanks to their Princesses sub-brand, glittery gowns to launch every girl’s happily ever after seem an obvious offering.
But brand extension gone wrong can alienate fans and consumers who sense opportunism rather than authenticity. Do fans truly believe their favorite stars understand the craft of wine making? Or can they sense a sort of business, name-licensing deal?
Authenticity matters. Successful brand extension doesn’t change the existing brand stereotype, rather it strengthens, builds and enhances the current one. Then, Taylor Swift fans don’t care whether or not the tween queen really selected the floral notes in her fragrances because they truly are “Wonderstuck” by the starlet. Ale by The Grateful Dead makes perfect sense. But some consumers might think twice before buying the fine wine, Ditka.
Brand loyalty comes from fans feeling connection and kinship to a brand’s identity. Consumers will only extend their loyalty to sub- or stretched brands if they authentically fit with the master brand according to them. Otherwise, the extension may weaken the connective bond.
A rule of thumb for boldly going where your brand has never gone before: it’s got to make sense for the master brand. If not, consider a new brand altogether.
Here are a few questions to guide you:
- Will the extension of the brand reinforce the primary associations of the brand stereotype without creating new negative, conflicting or confusing associations for the brand? Does it build my brand?
- Will the associations of the brand be perceived as relevant and differentiating in the new category? Is this a fit?
- Does the new category broaden the definition of the brand, elevating it to a higher calling?
If you’re seeking to increase your brand’s star power with an extension, hold firm in your brand values. If you’re a cat, don’t try to “be more dog.” (We couldn’t resist. We love cat videos, too.)