Brand Building: 3 Steps to Multichannel Expansion

How do you add new products or services to your brand without diluting it?

Summary
Transcript

Kat Cole, North America COO and president at FOCUS Brands, shares three tips for mastering multichannel brand expansion:

1. Be really good at the core of what you do.
2. Be honest about how powerful your brand really is.
3. Find the right partner.

    Watch the video for an in-depth look at why these three elements are critical to successful multichannel brand building.

    If I think about multichannel expansion and if I were to go to a business school and teach a class on it, a master class or a basics class on multichannel expansion, I would give a few tips: First, you need to be really good at the core of what you do. Trying to play in different channels before your core is strong is simply distracting.

    Cinnabon was able to expand into multiple channels only long after it had a strong established base in the hearts and minds of consumers of what the brand stood for. When the brand branched out to do something different, it didn't confuse the consumer. They said, “Oh, Cinnabon is really famous for this, and now some little piece of that is in this form.” If Cinnabon had only been in a few places for a few years and all the sudden we launched a cereal everywhere, we would've been a cereal company that happened to have some cinnamon roll shops, as opposed to an indulgent cinnamon roll company that happened to have some cereals and coffee creamers, etc. Having a strong core legacy business model is step one.

    The second is be honest about how powerful your brand really is. You love your brand because it's your baby and you made it. You think it's world famous to the five people who are your customers. You've got to be really honest about how much power that brand brings because what you're going to do next is go approach someone that already has a product in the marketplace and suggest that your brand adds value to them that they can not add to themselves and then ask that that command a price.

    You've got to be able to prove that. If your brand isn't strong or strong enough to be incrementally valuable to what's already in the marketplace and strong enough to command a more premium price that allows that partner to pay you your license fee or your cut or your portion, it will never win. It all starts with being really clear and confronting reality of how much power your brand actually has.

    If you know your brand has power and if you have a strong core, the third step is find the right partner. You can not replace a bad partner in multichannel expansion. You want to get partners that are first or second in their category. You want to get those that absolutely respect the premium value that you now have confirmed that your brand brings and get those that have strong relationships in the channels where you will be doing business. Any other route is significantly more risky.

    Choosing the right partner, for us it's been blue chip companies most of the time. Sometimes it's startups and entrepreneurs because we just believe in them. We have a tremendous amount of process and diligence around who that partner will be. If that happens and you launch a product in the marketplace, then you don't just sit and say, “We've built it now everyone will love it.” You've got to work just as hard to build awareness around that product.

    If you're successful with one multichannel tier expansion and you continue many, at some point you have to stop and look backward and ask how is the brand being portrayed broadly now. Do we stand for anything different now that we have coffee creamer and cereal and vodka and all of these other things? If we do, are we okay with that? If not, how do we architect our brand and these expressions in such a way that it protects the equity of the brand but directly communicates to the consumer what they should or should not expect in these many different forms?
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    Kat Cole

    Kat Cole’s twitter handle reads “Connected-Creative-Conscious-Community building Capitalist, Biz Advisor, MBA, Coffee-loving Chronic Learner” – this not only describes her as a person, it describes the philosophies she applies to busi...

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