Extending your brand is a pretty natural move for many people. After all, introducing new products and services is how you make more money right? It can, but it can also cost you money and damage your brand.

The reason is because extending your brand causes confusion. A brand cannot get into the mind, cannot stand for something, without consistency. Extending a brand, by definition, changes it in some way. You have to be very strategic in the ways you extend your brand.

Let’s take a look at an example to better understand this concept.

Take Jack Daniels. Jack Daniels is the most popular brand of whiskey in the United States. With millions in cash, supply chains in place and distribution channels fine-tuned, they could extend their brand rather effortlessly into other beverage markets.

Why not a Jack Daniels vodka, or a Jack Daniels gin? Why stop there, why not Jack Daniels soda or Jack Daniels sports drinks?

Jack Daniels could very easily extend their brand, but they choose not to because it will undermine the Jack Daniels whiskey brand. As crazy as a Jack Daniel line of sports drinks sounds, we see many small businesses try and do this same type of thing on a smaller scale.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. If you ever hear yourself saying, “Why should we limit ourselves…” the answer is because your brand demands it.

This is not to say your brand can’t be extended, as mentioned earlier you just have to be strategic about it. Jack Daniels has Jack Daniels Honey, and Jack Daniels Fire. These extensions are variations of whiskey, which means they fit within the overall architecture of the whiskey brand.

So how does a Jack Daniels extend into entirely new markets? How do you? The answer is by developing an entirely new brand altogether. Jack Daniels is actually a subsidiary of a company called Brown-Forman. Never heard of them? They want it that way. They would rather you have heard of Jack Daniels, Finlandia Vodka, or their host of other whiskey, vodka and tequila brands. They understand the difference between their brands and their business. They develop and build new brands in order to dive into the tequila market, the vodka market, or the lower ranges of the whiskey market (they would never lower the price and prestige of Jack Daniels).

Many brands. One business.

When you are developing new services, products and offerings, do so with your brand(s) in mind.

Ask yourself if your new offer is meant for the same market and if it dovetails with what people have come to expect from your current brand. If it does, great! If not, you might need to create a new brand for your new product or service.

Limitation combined with consistency is key to building a brand. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is a brand of Romano cheese.

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