Line ‘Em Up: New Products and Services Offer New Branding Opportunities

Brand Basics

New products and services can help your business grow, but it’s important to keep your eye on the brand.

As a business owner, you know that you can’t sit still. Whether it’s the competition, market forces, or simply plateauing, change and growth are constants. When it comes to growing your business, among the most effective and exciting methods is to come up with shiny new products and services designed to attract greater sales and new market segments. After all, nothing captures interest quicker than a hot, new offer.

It’s common for businesses to develop new products and services to serve customer needs or expand their audiences. Such line extensions may be related to the markets you’ve already mastered, or they might be an attempt to grow your customer base by appealing to new markets or cross-selling to existing customers. If you’re taking the step to create new direction, you need to pay attention to some of the fundamentals of branding that helped you build your business in the first place, says Bianca Lee, founder and chief strategist at White Rose Marketing Solutions, LLC, a New York City branding and marketing firm.

“You have to consider who your target market is and what is going to appeal to them as well as what you offer,” she says.

Sometimes, that means holding steady to your brand look and messaging, but other times, you may need to break out with something new, she says. Here are three areas to review before you begin building the new brand concept.

Are you ready to tell your customers and prospects a great story that will sell your brand? Dietz says there are four major types of stories your brand needs to be able to tell effectively. Are you ready to tell these tales?

1. Examine Your Strengths

Think about your new product or service. What are you promising to customers? When you have a good idea of what your brand delivers, you’re going to have a better sense of the image you need to build, says Sharon Geltner, a business analyst at the Small Business Development Center at Palm Beach State College, in Boca Raton, Florida, who works with businesses on branding.

“You can’t just force the new offering into your existing branding without thinking about whether it fits,” she says. Doing so may undermine any chance of success. However, if you can use your existing brand to your advantage, it’s often a good idea to do so.”

2. Explore the Audience

How will the new audience feel about your new offering? Think about whether it’s relevant to them and how it will be received, Lee suggests. Uniformity for uniformity’s sake can undermine your success. For example, what are refreshing beverages in Europe may be different than what a refreshing beverage is in America which may be different than what a refreshing beverage is in India, she says. Here, there’s no substitute for good market research.

“While it may not be as much fun to run an extensive market research program as it is to create a glossy ad, in order for you to really hit home with your consumers—to really dial up that relevance and know how to price your product so that it’s expensive enough that people think that it’s valuable but not too expensive so that they can’t afford it—that all comes out of your market research program,” she says.

3. Look for Common Ground

Whether you’re starting from scratch or using your existing branding elements, such as logos or color, there may be common ground, Lee says. For example, if you own a clothing shop that’s perceived as a very fashion-forward brand appealing to young women, it might be difficult to get a more mature, affluent buyer through the doors. In such a case, you might be better off building from scratch. But if you’ve got a new line of gluten-free cupcakes that you want to add to your successful bakery, your audience may love to know that the same great cakes can now be had gluten-free. But, either way, you may be able to use similar colors or logos to create a feeling of familiarity, Lee says.

Understanding what to take with you and what to change is an essential part of building your new product or service brand. By exploring these key elements, you can find the best compromise between using existing brand strengths and attracting the new audience you seek.

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