Harley Davidson Cake Decorating Biker

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m sure all of the Weekend Road Warriors have a Harley Davidson Cake Decorating Kit lined up as the perfect addition to their Roughneck Thanksgiving feast. Well maybe not.

Can you really picture the a Harley owner firing up the HOG and riding to the local grocery store with ingredient list in hand, so that he/she can make the bake cake?

Harley’s not the only brand that thinks it possesses superhero strength to stretch infinitely. Here are a few noteworthy examples of brands being stretched too far:

  1. Bic Pantyhose – I guess there is some missing link between ballpoint pens and pantyhose that no one else knows about.
  2. Hooters Airline – I wonder if the writer of Soul Plane rode on the airline before it bit the dust in 2006.
  3. Heinz All-Natural Cleaning Vinegar – How many people poured this all over their fried fish before realizing their mistake?
  4. Diesel Jeans Wine – The fact that it’s produced by a jeans manufacturer overshadows the normal sophistication associated with a good wine.
  5. Virgin Brides – Virgin is one company that you might be able to use to make a case for brand extensions, but this one is ridiculous even for them.
  6. Maxim Hair Color for Men – Maybe GQ…
  7. Cheetos Lip Balm – I’m a big Chester Cheetah fan, but his is just gross.
  8. Anything Bayer Product Beyond Aspirin – the company has slapped the Bayer name on everything from bug spray to antibiotic for pets.

Are all brand extensions bad?

No. In fact some brand extensions happen quite naturally.

Take Mr. Clean’s Windshield Wash and Wiper Blades for example. The products are a very natural and logical extension. Everyone is familiar with how well Mr. Clean products work in cleaning their homes, so the products are an obvious choice when it comes time to pick the best product to clean their cars. Adding the wiper blades to the mix turns the task of changing your wiper blades into a routine maintenance item.

So how do you know if your brand extension will be a Harley disaster or a Mr. Clean success?

First decide if it feels natural? Does it make sense?

If it passes that test, be sure weigh the pros and cons that are associated with brand extensions. Even if the brand extension makes sense it may not be worth risking the dangers entailed.

Marty Neumeier, the author or The Brand Gap and Zag, has come up with, The 4 Dangers of Brand Extension. This is a great place to start before diving into a brand “leveraging” effort.