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August 31, 2007

Brand Naming v. Brand Extensions: Survival of the Funniest?

As a naming consultant, developing product names for brand extensions is a topic that I've written about before... and it's a strategy that is often necessary for a brand to continue growing.

The recent news that Guinness is diversifying into red beer with the launch of their new Guinness Red drink is a perfect example of this kind of brand extension.

For 250 years, Guinness has meant black and white. It's a black beer with a white froth. Now, parent company Diageo is pushing the brand in directions never been before... offering us Guinness bread and even your own froth maker called a "surger."

guinnessred.gif Some drinkers are not impressed... the World of Beer grumbles, "Guinness is stout, plain and simple. Not some Kilkenny knock off, not a weird looking creation which, judging by the photo published online at The Sun, boasts tomato juice as an ingredient, but stout. The black stuff. Period." Yet, other beer bloggers can hardly wait for the weekend to try it.

What's up? Extending a brand name, no matter how old and powerful and well loved it is, is something marketers feel compelled to do.

Even Guinness can't rest on its laurels... it has to offer extensions to customers or be swept away in a tide of microbrews and light beers into the ever smaller space of a niche brand name.

TD Clark's excellent article on the subject talks about how newer brands, like Crocs shoes, are already creating new brand names out of old ones. The Crocs brand is now offering apparel consumers "Crosslite rt" or "relaxed technology" shoes. This is aggressive brand naming at its finest, given the relative newness of the Crocs brand name.

Similarly, Mars is offering us a Starburst Drink... you remember Starburst fruit chews, right? By the way, this is an awful line extension, I think, and is doomed to fail. And current TV is using brand extension strategies to "expand its web presence and increase its marketing efforts."

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Posted by William Lozito at August 31, 2007 8:04 AM
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Starburst in liquid form sure sounds wrong to me, Bill! And you are right: brand extensions are the name of the game in 2007, both to counter possible recessionary forces and to gain a greater market share.

Hello Jack!!! I have to say that as usual I agree with Bill...but I sure am looking FW to tasting Guinness Red. I love your blog, great to see you in this neck of the woods.

In the case of Guinness, I feel the brand is a singularity among brands, with a rich history that Diageo may be ignoring to their own detriment.

Soon after Diageo acquired the Guinness and Smithwick's brands, I was at a marketing presentation in Miami where the Diageo marketing representative called Guinness a "beer" (it's not a beer, it's a stout), and mispronounced the Smithwick's name.

Guinness owns black. Trying to extend and water down the name into the crowded red beer market, just might take the brand OUT of the black.

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