branding expert laura ries

That New Product Could Kill Your Brand

branding expert laura riesIf you’ve ever taken a marketing class, there’s a good chance, the book was written by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

Al’s book Positioning is the bible on the subject. Laura Ries is Al’s daughter. Together they own consulting agency Ries & Ries.

Recently, I spoke with Laura and she shared some insight about branding.

She’s letting me share it with you.

My initial question:

How do so many established brands make the mistake of re-positioning contrary to the position they’ve already solidified?

I think one of the biggest reasons companies get branding wrong is that they are only focused on growth. They see milking brands via line-extension as an easy growth method. Short term line extensions can in fact bump growth, but the dilution of the brand usually results in a long term brand and sales decline.

If a brand establishes a position they believe it is theirs forever so they move on to adding other ideas. Instead they need to reinforce that position not try to expand it.

A brand’s success is also inextricably linked to the success of the category it is linked to. If your category dies, so will your brand.

UnFit For A King

I told her I felt a little uneasy about all the advertising Burger King is putting behind its new Grilled Dogs. Although hot dogs aren’t a far stretch from burgers, something just feels off about it to me. I asked Laura’s opinion and she said:

The executives at BK should walk outside and read the sign that says “BURGER KING.” It does not say Dog King. It is a huge mistake to spend so much time, money and resources promoting hot dogs.

The moral of the story is: Focus on things that reinforce your brand instead of expanding at the expense of dilution. Always pursue growth, but know that a short term bump may have negative long term consequences, if not aligned with your current positioning.

Don’t let that new product mess up a good thing. Pick up Laura’s book Visual Hammer for more insight on establishing your brand.

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