For me, it depends on whether the unfamiliar territory a company moves into fits with its brand ethos and philosophy. Innocent is much more than a fruit smoothie brand – its philosophy is of purity of ingredient and simplicity, all delivered with intelligent naivety. Does going into Veg Pots fit? Of course it does – vegetables grow from the earth and are nurtured by the sun and the rain. If Innocent was planning on spinning its ‘fruitiness’ into a condom range, I may question the wisdom. But vegetables, unfamiliar territory? This is a no-brainer.
Martin Grimer, Executive creative director, Blue Marlin
The main impact on popular brands straying into unfamiliar territory is that investing time in a folly distracts them from their core business. Brand extensions often fail, but it’s rarely the death of the brand. We forgive their failures, as we would forgive an inappropriate comment from a favourite aunt. Veg Pots fit well with Innocent’s value and should do well. Innocent would only be damaged by a failure if it were caused by a departure from its values, such as loading the products with additives.
Luke Mansfield, Head of innovation, Landor Associates
For a brand extension to be successful consumers need to clearly understand its role and what it’s bringing to the new category. Semiotically, if the branding and graphics work in the same manner as the core product. In a different category context consumers will be forced to stop, think and decipher (in this instance, is it food for adults or kids?). Creating a barrier at the point of purchase is a high-risk strategy – it might have short-term success, but it will dilute brand values as consumers will question the role of the brand.
Avril Tooley, Partner, Brandopus
Brand expansion can be great for business if it is true to the brand and remains credible, but there are many examples where the elastic has been stretched so far that brands have ended up with their knickers around their ankles. Take Gucci and its apocryphal – and disastrous – tea towels, or Virgin Brides; nice pun, but just not credible. Innocent Veg Pots sound like a good idea – they stick with nature and carry the five-a-day message. Shame you have to microwave them.
Stephen Bell, Creative director, Coley Porter Bell