The temptation is strong. You’ve worked hard to build a brand that stands for something, and you’ve been successful. Now you have a new product. You know how much effort and expense goes into building a new brand, so you decide to release the new product under your existing brand name.
Most of the time, that’s a recipe for failure.
It won’t happen with musician Adam Young, who’s band Owl City had a #1 hit last summer with the catchy song “Fireflies”. In a few weeks Adam’s new album will come out, but it won’t be by Owl City.
Why not? Owl City has already had a #1 hit. Fans and radio programmers would instantly recognize the name and give the song a chance to be heard.
Adam knows better, and explained his rationale to Billboard Magazine. ”It was clear early on that it needed to be separate from Owl City,” Young says. “Overall, this piece is disconnected enough to be its own thing.”
So instead of a second album from Owl City, the world will be hearing the debut of Sky Sailing – an entirely new musical act focused not on new-wave synth sounds but instead on acoustic singer-songwriter material.
Brand extension failures are legendary. TippingSprung releases an annual list of the best of the worst, and in the past has noted Burger King’s failed menswear line and cologne, Hooter’s now-defunct airline, and Kellogg’s disasterous experiment with hip-hop clothing.
Sometimes brand extension works. When the connection is logical and simple, it can be successful. TippingSprung notes Iam’s pet insurance, Starbucks coffee liqueur, and the Tide To Go stain removal pen as great examples of smart brand extension.
Take the advice of Adam Young’s manager Steve Burksy. “If one artist puts out five different CDs with five totally different sounds under one name, it would be utterly confusing to people,” Bursky says. If your company makes five different products with five completely different purposes, don’t put the same name on them.