A Guide to Graceful Brand Stretch
It’s easy to think big. What’s harder is to activate the ideas that push the envelope responsibly. Welcome to brand stretch—the way to tap sweet spots you’ve been overlooking.
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When I’m in an ideation meeting, concepts typically fall into one of two banks: core ideas, which nestle tightly with the brand’s existing equity and assets, and disruptive ideas—blue-sky, big-budget thoughts that push the brand well beyond its comfort zone.
Some marketers go for the disruptive idea—despite the challenging success rates in market—but more often, they ultimately choose to hang back, knowing that timing, budget and measurement are stacked against them. What many hastily overlook is a third, incredibly attractive option: brand stretch.
Brand stretch often refers to related categories where a brand could consider playing: eco-giant Honest moving from home-care to plant-based cosmetics and hair-care, for example. Or similarly, Seventh Generation wading into organic tampons and pads. But it can be more than categorical. “Brands that understand and activate against the desires that unite us have the permission to stretch in lots of ways,” says Bhavik Joshi, Senior Strategist at LPK. “They’ve earned the right to extend to adjacent consumers, markets and channels.”
Take Netflix, a brand stretch poster child. From the early days of DVD subscriptions to its now award-winning work in content creation (ahem, The O.A.), the brand is innovating up and down the value chain. It’s rule-breaking and feels disruptive—but really, the moves are rooted in adjacency mapping.
Pinpointing your adjacencies is the first step in a multi-step brand stretch process. Once you’ve identified new channels, categories or value chain opportunities you want to seize, prioritizing is key. Using trends forecasting, predictive strategy and brand analysis, we can gauge the brand extension that’s most rewarding—and least risky—for your business.
“The decision to extend your brand should be rooted in four things,” Joshi explains. “Authenticity, relevancy, ownability and aspiration. Insightful brand building accounts for all this and more when determining the best direction for future growth.”
Nicholas Partridge is Senior Innovation Director at LPK—and he’s obsessed with creating The New, be it product, service, brand or experience. Nick is a veteran innovator, having partnered with the world’s most powerful brands and scrappy upstarts on their hairiest innovation challenges. Prior to joining LPK, he served as Co-Head of Idea Couture’s New York office, as Innovation Director at Fahrenheit 212 (NYC) and Industrial Designer at Essential (Boston). He enjoys a good game of soccer and never met a lobster roll he didn’t like. Find him on Twitter at @KnewNewNeu.