Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Want Brand Extension? Create New Products

from this past weekend's edition of the Wall Street Journal

When it comes to brand extension, conventional wisdom states "don't overextend." Which is even more a maxim with startup companies. Coming out of the gate with too many product identities makes your business look unfocused and like it's trying to hard to be a "me too!" company.

The problem with the don't-overextend mind-set is that executives can easily fall into the trap of inbreeding: overwhelming customers with narrowly different new features and calling these items "new brands." Paradoxically, in an attempt to not overextend the product line, managers do exactly that leading to "feature glut" and reduced usability for consumers.

Get a new perspective--
OLD THINKING: Product managers often limit their imaginations by trying to improve their goods incrementally, daring only to add new features that supplement the original product purpose.
WHAT YOU MISS: By cross-breeding, you can take completely dissimilar products and combine them in ways that inspire wholly new functions.
RESULTS: A shoe-and-iPod combination from Apple and Nike, for instance. This shoe enhances athlete training by turning the iPod into a step and pace counter as well as an entertainment source.

So, look at products in terms of their external attributes and how they are used. How well would your product play with others?

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