If you do brand stretch well, people will not even notice.
In a previous blog post I wrote about how Red Bull had stretched it's brand from one of selling energy drinks to also owning a World Championship winning F1 team. Yet the great thing about this type of evolution is that it makes sense. The values present in the energy drink can market are there in Formula 1. The can being the container for energy, which feels very similar to the F1 car being the can the the fuel being the energy drink. And of course the driver, well they are the can and they obviously have to drink the drink to be able to drive well. Then at an even more raw level you have the idea of power, energy and speed wrapped into both narratives.
So what else is out there that has seen 'brand stretch'? If you do brand stretch I don't think you do see it. There shouldn't be any surprise that a brand has moved into a new market. While this company is always used as a case study within brand stories, I think one of the most successful brands that has 'stretched' is Apple. In many ways they have stretched as technology has developed which has perhaps masked just how much they have stretched. Yet think about all of Apple's original competitors. They could have all done the same but didn't. Some tried but in my eyes they had such a narrow narrative for their brand that you just don't believe they cared about anything other than computers.
So a quick history lesson will tell us how Apple founded by two Steve's. Very early on became successful and were challenged by Apple Corps (owned by the Beatles) regarding copyright of the name Apple. There was an understanding that Apple Computers would stick to making computers and just computers – this was back in the late 70's so even the best psychic wouldn't have predicted what happened next – roll on a decade or two and technology has moved on. The .mp3 has just been made possible and music is going digital. Apple Computers produce something called an iPod along with their new device comes iTunes and suddenly Apple's brand has not only stretched but they have changed an entire market sector. Roll on another decade or so and Apple bring out something called the iPhone with an attached AppStore which allows for purchasing of novelty applications and games for the phone. Once again Apple have stretched and transformed the mobile phone market and in a much more subtle way are in the process of radicalising the games industry. The blockbuster triple A games are still with us but with the ability to buy a game on your iPhone for 69p for how long? As well as this there is something else that has stretched. Centred around lifestyle. You always believed that Apple are focused on your life. They understand how you use products and what you want. They understand how you what technology to fit into your life. So an iTunes Festival where you can actually see you favourite bands in the flesh while taking photos on your iPhone all wraps into the world of Apple. They are a lifestyle brand centred around technology.
Since looking at Red Bull and Apple I have begun to look at other brands and how they are stretching. I am going to try and find some other examples that are maybe not as positive examples and will post them up in the next week or so.