Brand Stretch – extensions that should exist, but don’t

Derrick Lin


Creative Agency: DewGibbons + Partners
Project Type: Concept
Location: London

NOW STRETCH – THE ULTIMATE DO’S AND DON’TS OF BRAND EXTENSION – DewGibbons + Partners unveils the stretches that should exist, but don’t

In its latest design monograph, Open Eye 27 – Stretch, brand design agency DewGibbons + Partners dissects the art and science of brand extension, and puts its money where its mouth is by designing extensions that should exist but don’t.

Brand extensions make up the majority of ‘new’ products launched every year. Since the path to brand stretch success is by no means smooth (think Cheetos Lip Balm and Colgate frozen ready meals), DewGibbons + Partners has put together the ultimate how-to guide with Open Eye 27 – Stretch. This includes the design of 10 new products as examples.

Nick Vaus, Creative Director at DewGibbons + Partners commented: “We’ve looked in depth at what it takes to meaningfully extend a brand in a connected, omnichannel world, and why brands need to do it. Despite much of what’s written about brand extension, it’s not an art or a science. It’s both. There’s certainly no magic formula, but there are key factors for success. And we’ve taken these factors for a look over the horizon into products we’d like to see on the shelves ourselves.”

DewGibbons + Partners has defined 21st century brand extension into three categories: Migration (shifting into alternative categories), Marriage (multi-brand collaboration), and Metamorphosis (the unicorn of brand extension: operating in any way in a far-off categoryany category, and almost impossible so usually feigned with by using Limited Editions, which are extremes of both the former).

One of DewGibbons + Partners’ Migration examples sees the creation of WD40 Joint Care. WD40 owns multifunctional lubrication, with a truly iconic and global visual brand equity to boot. Migrating this attribute into healthcare to relieve and loosen painful, stiff joints, where other OTC brands focus on pain or lubrication, delivers far more than a ‘me-too’ product. Next up for Migration is the agency’s idea of Schweppes Indian Tonic Insect Repellent – leveraging the quinine ingredient with its history as an insect repellent and malaria treatment. With the added consumer benefit of a pleasant zesty orange and lemon peel fragrance, this is a real contrast to Deet and other competitors.

For Marriage, DewGibbons + Partners offers Kleensex – a collaboration between Kleenex and Durex. Behemoths in their respective categories, this marriage brings together Kleenex’ undisputed knowledge of gentle fabrics and Durex’ intimate products expertise to create the ultimate range for post-sex personal and sex toy cleansing. Evian and Optrex’ Actimist Eye Wash marries Evian’s purity and gentleness with Optrex’ ownership of eye care to create a product that sits as happily on the beauty shelves as it does in healthcare. Another Marriage idea proffered by the agency is Cadbury’s Nyttime: Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate is comforting but a little too stimulating with its caffeine content, whilst Nyttol is an excellent sleep aid but there’s no pleasure in the taking – bring them together and you have the best of both worlds.

In the De Beers Fine Ice Limited Edition, DewGibbons + Partners capitalises on the company’s diamond heritage and the role it plays in marriage proposals. For a limited time only, buyers of De Beers’ engagement rings receive a bespoke engraved ice box and vintage champagne to create a memorable proposals. Next up in Limited Editions is OPI x Farrow & Ball. Farrow & Ball paint is the ultimate in elegant home décor, with 132 historic colours and playful names, and OPI is at the apex of professional nail colour and playful names. Bring the two together for several seasonal ranges and you get a refined Limited Edition with meaningful business potential.

Teetering right on the edge of Metamorphosis is DewGibbons + Partners offering Duracell Plus Power, where Duracell’s unchallenged position in everlasting power is brought to bear in the energy drink and supplements category. Another Metamorphosis is Nespresso Beauty Shots, where the brand’s convenience format and caffeine ingredient move to the quick fix skin treatment category. Ideal for travel and in a set of four resealable, iconic shaped pods, Nespresso Beauty Shots give instant refreshment and nourishment for tired skin. And finally, there’s Wall’s Love the Sun! sun cream. Synonymous with the British summer, who better than this ice cream maker to encourage kids to use sun cream, and the brand can use its ice cream vans as a novel distribution channel – providing the products when and where people really need them.

Vaus summarises: “While some of our examples are incredibly playful, they all have the potential to bring added value to existing brands. Stretch is often seen as an easier, cheaper way to drive growth, but doing it well takes almost as much thought as creating something from scratch. Quirky stunts are great to grab attention, but combine that with a strategic brand idea and that’s when stretch really can go the distance.”

About Open Eye 27 – Stretch
Open Eye 27 – Stretch is the latest in DewGibbons + Partners’ series of renowned Open Eye publications dating back to 2008. The concept for Stretch originated in a Studio conversation about Carlsberg’s Beer Beauty men’s personal care product range: did we like it, would we buy it and, more importantly, did it make sense? We found it was just one in a stream of extensions with ever-greater frequency: from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous.

Under the context that most truly new products fail and consumers want constant multi-channel engagement from brands, Open Eye 27 – Stretch offers an in-depth analysis and definition of three overarching types of brand extension. Migration looks at how a brand can extend into alternative categories (building on work from legendary marketing professor Ed Tauber) and the key factors for success. Marriage examines the phenomenon of brand collaboration and analyses the differences between a match made in heaven and a one-night stand. Finally, there’s Metamorphosis, true stretch, the unicorn of brand extension: a brand that can operate in any way in any category it chooses. As this last one rarely exists, Limited Editions are used to fill the gap.

Stretch covers the beautiful (Dolce & Gabbana’s artisanal fridges with SMEG), the clever (Men’s Health maximum nutrition ready meals) to the utterly ridiculous (Manchester United’s branded tractor and KFC chicken-flavoured nail varnish), along with a host of the very latest, best (and worst!) extensions in DewGibbons + Partners’ specialist sectors: beauty, health, and luxury.

What’s Unique?
Attention-grabbing brand extension is often strategy-free, going straight for the weird or wow factor with little – or any – meaning or congruence with the core brand behind it. The extensions here show how fun can also be fruitful – aligning great strategy with arresting ideas and design.