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Keep it tight

Brand houses , brand extensions and brand flexes. They are all different ways to branch off from a core brand. For brand houses, think Virgin - Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Trains. For brand extensions, think Marks and Spencer - M&S Food, M&S Bank. For brand flexes, think a logo that changes colour, to represent different service areas.

Coca Cola brand extension

From an operational point of view, they make sense, they make things feel managable and compartmentalised. It works politically too, as each compartment often has has a chief, who likes the idea of having a logo all of their own. This is handy when you are looking for buy in.

But from an external point of view, things can come at a cost. Brands can soon begin to fray at the edges, look fragmented, unfocused and at worst, confusing. And although on the inside things started off feeling manageable - they can soon feel siloed and unmanageable from a brand consistency point of view.

For a brand to be recognised, it has to be seen. It needs to be distinctive, clear and focused. That means no clutter, no added layers and no contradictions. In practice that means having a leadership team, who consistently put an organisation's values and purpose, ahead of projects, departments and shiny propositions. Keeping their eye on the long game and not allowing the brand to be taken off course for a short term opportunity.

Having said all this, there are times when it works.

My sense check is to ask: Does it align, support, or consolidate the spirit, values, purpose and characteristics of the original brand? In other words, is it true to the core brand, does it add to it, or does it just add new flavours, that simply don't work together?


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