Business success or risk?
Diversification is central to the growth strategy of some of the world’s biggest brands, notably Nike, which evolved from running shoe brand to sportswear icon. But, while brand expansion can be critical to business success and longevity, it also comes with a degree of risk. Entering new markets can result in misfires that dilute the brand and leave consumers, at best, confused and, at worst, switching off in their droves.
Brands need to ensure that they’re not venturing too far from their market positioning by launching products or services that feel misaligned to their core offering. Cautionary tales include Harley Davidson’s perfume and Colgate’s ready-meal range.
It’s not just product diversification where brands risk straying too far from their core
Brands adopt different personas and tones of voice to suit the platform they’re on and the audiences they’re trying to engage with, specifically Generation Z. Now with so many brands embracing edgy, comic personas on social channels such as TikTok, it’s becoming hard to tell them apart. Perhaps even more of a danger though, is that as well as losing their point of difference, brands who bend themselves to please multiple audiences risk coming across as try-hard and disingenuous.
Social strategy works best when the brand’s online persona remains aligned with the overall brand identity. For example, Ryanair has always positioned itself as a no-frills airline, and so its subversive, sarcastic persona on social media is authentic to its brand. It comes down to the fact that consumers demand authenticity. To successfully grow as a brand, you’ve got to ensure you don’t drift away from your core values.
Carhartt, which turns 135 next year, has managed to stay relevant and attract a new generation of customers, precisely because it stays true to its original purpose. The brand, which started out as a workwear company, is beloved by celebrities, influencers, skaters and rappers, but still sticks to its roots in workwear. Unlike rival The North Face, which recently shifted into lifestyle fashion.
Carhartt’s Chief Brand Officer Susan Hennike explained: ‘We get a lot of requests, whether it be a collaboration or whether it be a marketing opportunity to go after streetwear. But we are focused on the hard-working people.‘
Ultimately, businesses have to adapt and evolve or they will become stagnant, but they must do so in a way that ensures continued alignment with their core brand purpose. In the rush for reinvention, marketers should never lose sight of the reason their brand exists in the first place.
Featured image: Ksenia Chernaya / Pexels