Today, I'm looking at the difference between using the Law of Division to initiate "divergence" versus allowing the brand to become diluted or de-valued through line extension. Click through the jump break to read more.
Finding Your New Category
Branding opportunities do not lie in the pursuit of new markets, but rather in the creation of new positions. After all, a Brand is defined as:
Without the ability to influence a purchasing decision, a brand has no power--no value--and a brand that no one has ever heard of before has no influence in any market. In particular, an unknown brand has no ability to spawn a new category. This is why publicity, not advertising, can propel a Brand to a position of leadership (I'll discuss publicity versus advertising again next week). So how do you reach a new consumer if not by advertising or expanding into a new market?
The Immutable Laws of Branding 1 and 2 (Law of Expansion, Law of Contraction) guarantee that "line extension" will simply force your current Author Brand into extinction. Expansion dilutes the message, making your distinguishing attributes unclear in the minds of the consumers. The less you are a unique and special snowflake, the more easily you become lost in the blizzard of choices. In a blizzard, consumers simply clear away a path by pushing aside everything they can. Be the different one and you'll be noticed, not pushed aside. Then present a strong and focused Author Brand that consumers can grasp, recognize and position for future reference.
Evolution of a New Category
A new Category or Genre, like a new species of animal, evolves from the introduction of some new attribute which distinguishes the new from the predecessor. A Brand uses these attributes to create a new position from which to launch a new marketing campaign resulting in the establishment of the new Category.
Using the animal kingdom a metaphor, let's start at the top, with the leader, since the leader determines the attributes defining the new Category. Note that this determination of the defining features or attributes is, in effect, the "naming" of the new Category.
In the animal kingdom, the lion is the King of the Jungle, but they are not the only Big Cat out there. They are large feline creatures and they are descended from the prehistoric "Panthera." (Hence the generic term "panther" to refer to a "Big Cat.") Somewhere in the distant past, divergence occurred and several new species were spawned which we now call lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, etc.
Each of these Big Cats is unique and has distinguishing features or attributes to help us simple-minded people file them in context (positioning them in our minds) as different things. Each type of Big Cat is distinct, different and holds a niche position in the food chain. Lions and tigers are both Big Cats but they are not cooperative; they are competitors. You recognize both as Big Cats (similar) and yet you hold them as distinct in your mind. They are in separate categories. You have positioned them in your mind.
Whatever the reason (attribute), you will have stored (positioned) each different species of Panthera descendant with a different connotation attached to them. That connotation or context is their position and their position is their "value" in your mind.
The Power of Narrow Focus
Positioning is a battle for control of the consumer's mind. You can win the battle by doing the right thing (narrowing your Brand's focus) or you can win when your competition does the wrong thing (expands their Brand's focus). If your competition expands and extends and you remain focused, you win and they lose. Narrowing focus will always win over dilution and expansion. Less is always more in this battle.
The consumer has an glut of information thrown at them daily and they will, by necessity, filter and "simplify" the data they store in their minds--and they'll only store a small fragment of the data they encounter! Recall, a position is inside the consumer's "over-simplified mind" so they'll discard and reject any information which does not easily fit into an existing position unless or until you give the consumer a very good reason to go through the pain of creating a new position in which to store your new concept.
The more simple your message, the more narrowly-focused your Brand is, the easier it'll be to enter the mind of the consumer and establish a position (or platform) from which to building your Brand.
The Market vs. the Mind
The one mistake many make, because they are new to the idea of Branding, is to think the battlefield is the marketplace instead of inside the individual consumer's mind. The primary objective of a branding program is never the market for a product, but rather the mind of a consumer. The consumer is influenced by the marketplace--by the full (or over-full) brands there--but the market will follow wherever the consumer's mind leads. The consumer buys things; we do not sell to them. It is a "pull" not a "push" process, like a simply "supply-and-demand" system. Never focus on the marketplace more than the consumer. Without demands from the consumer, there is no marketplace.
Next week, I'll look at how publicity, not advertising, helps launch a new Category and a new Brand with it. I hope to see you then!
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