I met up with a maverick digital head of one the nation’s leading content creation agencies a few weeks earlier. I asked him the percentage divide between mainstream digital ad revenues and branded content or non-traditional revenues. To my surprise, he mentioned the divide at 85:15 favouring non-traditional revenues. Sometime around the same week, I was invited to be a panellist at the India Radio Forum 2018 in Delhi, the topic most suitably was; brand extensions and their requirement in a brand lifecycle.
1. What is a brand extension?
2. When should it be introduced in a brand lifecycle?
3. Should a brand have multiple extensions?
4. How different is a brand extension from a marketing extension?
5. How is the new age digital marketer relying on brand extensions to ensure that reach is intact and recall is loud enough in the cluttered consumer mind-space?
HARLEY OWNERS GROUP
Remember HOG? Harley Davidson Motorcycles created the Harley Owners Group back in 1983, which remains the granddaddy of all cult brand extensions. It is a million strong factory sponsored community worldwide. HOG still remains the top case study of how a brand introduced an extension using its employees, products and consumers and wrote the initial codes of what we now know as a subculture. Harley Davidson then engineered revenue streams through HOG, turned around global sales, sold merchandise and now every single dealership of the product, globally, has at-least one HOG chapter. To the brand extension curator meets motorcycle rider in me, there has not been a more established global model of the brand extension advocacy as HOG. Don’t buy a Harley to believe it, simply take a tour to Daytona Bike Week.
GLOBAL BRAND EXTENSIONS
Let’s take a quick dive of brands that have made extensions almost as integral to the consumer - brand lifecycle as the product itself. Guinness and the Book of World Records, Apple’s Macworld Expo, Extreme Sports by Red Bull, TED and it’s various communities, Cross Fit, Go-Pro with over 6000 videos uploaded each day, Playboy Club, Disneyland; the list is endless. Yes, there are the Minis and the Beetles as well but I am not making a your list vs. mine, I am simply highlighting how since the 50’s, brands have used extensions to create an emotional touch point, many of which have turned into cults with a loyal, ever increasing following. Additionally, I am attempting to visit the new age digital marketeer’s mindset about how she/he uses the brand extension space with the three second recall rule prevailing today.
THE INDIA CHAPTER
Closer home, we have had a fair share of somewhat successful attempts at the world table of extensions. Why did Standard Chartered require a marathon? Why did Coca Cola need a music studio production? Bacardi, a music festival? Ray Ban, a national band hunt? Not to forget, Pulsar Festival of Speed, KTM Orange Days, Red Bull Jod ke Tod or Kite Fight and Mountain Dew and its latest extension attempt with an athlete summiting the Kanchenjunga. This list too, is impressive. What is most interesting here is the differentiator between a brand extension and a marketing extension; a marketing extension is a requisite of the product strategy that a brand introduces for a short period of time as a necessary launch/recall tool to help the brand communicate and ensure quarter on quarter ROI.
THE PULSAR FESTIVAL OF SPEED – INDIA’S FIRST SPEED BIKING FESTIVAL
When the team at Bajaj Pulsar asked me how they could ‘own’ the ‘genre of speed’ in the minds of their consumers I was pleasantly surprised. The team was clear from the word go that this was not going to be a marketing extension, but a brand extension and therefore something they wanted to build as a community. Three weeks later, we presented the concept of ‘Pulsar Festival of Speed’, a carefully crafted story of how the Pulsar and its rider are synonymous with the concept of speed. We learned how the average Pulsar rider yearns to participate in controlled racing environments and how the sheer cost, size and a dearth of infrastructure of controlled racing environments are the largest factors keeping him from it. We proposed turning every go-kart track in the country into a temporary racing arena for the thousands of amateur racing enthusiasts and introduced the Pulsar Cup along with the Festival of Speed. Three seasons, two million digital touch points and hundreds of racers later, I can proudly and safely say that if an under 500CC rider speaks about speed and races, the Pulsar FOS must cross his mind.
To conclude, in my limited experience, it is an incredible time to create brand extensions, communities that online and offline would become evangelists for brands because of their EQ. What is inspiring is attempts and trends in the global digital first business brand extension space like YouTube Fan Fest, Apple iTunes Fest and Google GOSF.
Swaroop Banerjee is a Business Mentor at Adsto Sports & Co-Founder Tribe Asia. Swaroop creates brand extensions, alternate revenue models in Sports & Music environments and is a passionate explorer of global brand induced subcultures. Follow @swaroopbanerjee on Instagram and Twitter. Alternatively, you can connect with him on firstname.lastname@example.org
It is an incredible time to create brand extensions, communities that online and offline would become evangelists for brands because of their EQ.