Photos: Thrillist/Freshpeel/Cheetos
Find One Miscake
Is branching out the future big brand marketing strategy? We've taken a closer look at those who made it work - and those who, well, didn't.

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” – Walter Landor.

A successful branching out model can create more credibility to the brand, and strengthen the brand identity. When a brand has established a strong association with its products in consumers’ minds, the brand value increases. But did you know that by trying too hard, you can unintentionally weaken and dilute your brand?

By doing too much, the public can easily get confused as to what it is your company does. This is called consumer confusion. Worse than that, it’s much harder to see you as an expert in any one particular industry.

Find one miscake. Building a brand can be hard. Developing it can be outright treacherous.

How to do it

Some brands get it.

Volvo, the Swedish automobile company, made LifePaint, which is a reflective safety spray for pedestrians and cyclists. Volvo, the-safety-first car, is the perfect maker of this glow-in-the-dark spray, which makes cyclists more visible to drivers.

Red Bull, the energy drink company, established Red Bull Records in 2007. Red Bull Records is an independent record label dedicated to long-term artist development with a global perspective. The label has gained a lot of prestige and respect from people in the music industry and audiences in general.

Red Bull’s brand identity is risk taking, and like extreme sports participants, musicians live a hazardous life. The music industry offers a venture career and no sleep routine, and perhaps that’s why everyone believes it when Red Bull tells us they know music.

When it comes down to it, the underlying goal of any type of advertising is to solidify a company’s brand identity in the minds of consumers. 

Each product should be a natural extension. The consumers have to believe that the brand knows what they are doing – that they are experts. In the end, it’s about the value of storytelling, the brand’s ability to tell stories that create strong associations in the consumer’s mind.

You have to be able to tell a better story and it has to be consistent across all marketing channels to remain strong and trustworthy. This is the roadmap every brand should follow, and what better way to learn than to look back in history?

How NOT to do it

Sometimes “what not do to” is more enlightening than “what to do”. Here are some of the most obvious “what not to do” examples in the history of branching out:

Colgate Spaghetti
The oral hygiene expert wanted to branch out and take over the ready-to-eat meal market. Not surprisingly, it flopped, because consumers were unable to disassociate Colgate toothpaste from Colgate Spaghetti and Lasagna. Never really made it.

Hooters Airlines
The Hooter girls with tiny tops and big boobs suddenly had to educate themselves on airplane safety, because the restaurant brand was convinced that what people miss in airplanes is part-time workers who drink tequila shots during their shifts. No big success.

Cheetos Lip Balm
For some reason, the people at Cheetos all agreed that the cheesiness on your lips and face after consuming a pack of Cheetos chips is something people enjoy and would like to have as a permanent feature. That’s why Cheetos made the Cheetos Lip Balm, with Cheese flavor. Who would want to kiss that? No one, it turned out.

Harley Davidson Cake decorating kit
Motorcycles, beer and decorated cakes. Can you find the miscake?   

These brands are multibillion brands. Their failed attempts to branch out fortunately did not lead to financial ruin. Yet, if the brands were smaller with less capital, ventures such as these could have been catastrophic.

It’s not all a shot in the dark – you can always use the LifePaint Volvo spray to lead your way. Done correctly, branching out can indeed do magic for brands. Or at least, attain likes and perhaps some chuckles.

Like the KFC nail polish with the slogan “It’s finger licking good”, which was actually well received by chicken-loving customers because they managed to keep the association with KFC’s core identity, and showed the world they don’t take themselves too seriously. And who doesn’t like a little personality and humour in advertising?