Last night, I was watching a Fiat commercial and had made a passing comment about how I liked Fiat's new model - the 500x. I like how it is completely on brand with the look and feel of Fiat, but it is a natural transition into the larger, more SUV - type automobile. My comment then sparked a conversation/discussion/debate about how brands have grown and why it's been successful (or not) for them.
In a previous THOUGHTS post, I talked about getting the basics right, and how setting a strong foundation paves the way towards a successful future. When I think about companies and brands across several industries that in my mind have grown successfully and branched out in ways that makes sense, not only have they gotten the basics right, but they've also gone one step further in smarts and creativity.
So what are some of the keys to growing successfully?
- Establish your brand well
- Know your customer
- Be a leader, never a follower
- Don't get ahead of yourself (financially and creatively)
- Don't try to do and be too much at once or ever
Many brands, especially in fashion, have used the world of beauty, cosmetics, and fragrances as an extension to their already existing brand. Fragrance especially is a tool that extends a brand by using scent to tug at the emotions of its customers. Who would have ever thought that a company originally built on trench coats (Burberry) would be selling lipstick? Or remember Dream by Gap?
But growing your brand by way of beauty, cosmetics, and fragrance, for example, is not always the way to go. Yes, the cosmetics industry generates almost $60 billion each year. And just a little bit of that market share may represent millions of dollars. But what does it do to your branding, your story, and the message you send to your customers (loyal, new, and potential)?
If your brand isn't established sufficiently, and you are branching out all over the place, customers can get overwhelmed and confused. At the same time, even if your brand is well established and you are branching out by way of beauty and fragrance, your existing customers can be 'turned off'. It's all very much a fine line. Don't do something just because everyone else is doing it. Do something because it is a natural next step for your brand - all while being creative and thinking outside the box. Never try too hard to be something you are not because customers will see straight through you. And always, always, always stay true to who and what you are. Simple. Customers ultimately are looking for trustworthy brands. Trustworthy could mean high quality, it could mean stylish, it could mean consistent, it could mean best bang for your buck. Whatever trustworthy means to your customer, be that kind of trustworthy for your brand and for your customer.