Dec 5 2008

Book Short: A Brand Extension That Works

Book Short:  A Brand Extension That Works

Usually, brand or line extensions don’t work out well in the end.  They dilute and confuse the brand.  Companies with them tend to see their total market share shrink, while focused competitors flourish.  As the authors of the seminal work from years ago, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Jack Trout and Al Reis would be the first people to tell you this.

That said, The New Positioning, which I guess you could call a line extension by Jack Trout (without Reis), was a fantastic read.  Not quite as good as the original, but well worth it.  It’s actually not a new new book – I think it’s 12 years old as opposed to the original, which is now something like 25 years old, but I just read it and think it’s incredibly relevant to today’s world.

Building on the original work, Trout focuses more this time on Repositioning and Brand Extensions — two things critical to most businesses today.  How to do the impossible, to change people’s minds about your brand or product mid-stream, whether in response to new competitive activity or general changes in the world around you.  And how to think about brand extensions (hint:  don’t do them, create a new brand like Levi’s did with Dockers).

The book also has a very valuable section on the importance of sound and words to branding and positioning, relative to imagery.  Trout has a short but very colorful metaphor about women named Gertrude here that’s reminiscent of the research Malcolm Gladwell cited in Blink.

If you haven’t read the original Positioning, that should be on your wish list for the holidays.  If you have, then maybe Santa can deliver The New Positioning!