The Rise of the Brand Extension

From Bumble Beauty to Huawei + Porsche, we’re seeing an increase of brands expanding offerings using the brand extension strategy. In a climate of ever-growing competition, partnerships are leveraged to help repositioning. Some brands are embracing pop culture in an effort to reach younger audiences through collaborations with artists and innovators. And some are creating brand extensions well outside their core offering to help them stand out from the crowd.

The brand extension isn’t necessarily a new strategy. However, we’re likely to see more and more of them driven by a growing demand for better consumer experiences.

The motivation behind a brand extension can often be discovered via insights found in external data. Customer and industry online breadcrumbs help those who follow spot new opportunities, such as potential collaborations.

5 Brand Extension Mashups

1. Bumble branches into skincare with new Bumble Beauty

What happens when your dating app starts offering skincare advice? Popular Tinder alternative, Bumble, is trying its hand in the beauty business. So where did the brand extension come from? It’s the platforms way of looking to cure some emotional issues by venturing into the physical. The team at Bumble “spent several months working with psychotherapists and dermatologists to make serums that simultaneously solve skin and emotional issues,” CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told Marie Claire.

This follows Bumble’s recent ventures outside the world of dating whereby they began connecting female friends through platonic matches with Bumble BFF. They’ve also started connecting women in professional networks via Bumble Biz, as well as launching an investment arm for female-founded businesses via Bumble Fund. For Bumble, beauty seems a natural brand extension, whose ethos has always been about championing and celebrating women.

2. Spotify partners with

Music streaming platform Spotify has teamed up with to offer ‘heritage’ playlists based on your DNA results. Again, not one of the most obvious brand extensions. The new offering presents a unique intersection of art and science, bringing personalisation to your playlist.

Quartz reported that since the two companies launched the new service on Sept. 21, over 10,000 people have signed up for a custom playlist. So far more than 10 million people have taken the AncestryDNA test. Users have responded, however, with some mixed reviews.

3. Running on Dove + Dunkin

Two things that get your day going: caffeine and top beauty time-saving hack, dry shampoo. Dove has partnered with beloved coffee chain, Dunkin’, for Dove X Dunkin’. Dove X Dunkin’ is a styling Cafe that will “offer commuters, tourists and random passersby freestyling appointments using Dove’s dry shampoo products, as well as complimentary Dunkin’ coffees.” Result!

Dunkin and Dove’s brand extension is a direct result of insight the brands discovered by monitoring consumer behaviour on social media. Through social listening, they found the popularity of the phrase “running on coffee and dry shampoo.” According to WWD, “it also highlights two Millennial cultural obsessions — preserving blowouts by going several days without washing one’s hair and the Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ debate.”

4. Google + Levi’s: Google gets into FashionTech

Now firmly in the ‘wearable’ space, Google has teamed up with original denim brand Levi’s for a high tech jacket that enables users to control smartphone features with basic arm movements. Originally launched 2 years ago and marketed to the cycling audience, the latest Project Jacquard now features ride-sharing support via Uber and Lyft. It also supports Bose’s Aware Mode in their headphones, taking wearable tech to the next level.

5. Huawei + Porsche bring luxury + AI together for a new mobile experience

Looking for a brand sat squarely in the luxury space, Huawei engaged German luxury automaker Porsche for the design of its Mate 10 and Mate 20 smartphones. Billed as a “performance-driven smartphone”, the high-end model comes complete with a set of Porsche-branded accessories. The partnership has enabled Huwawei’s Mate line to offer an extra luxury tier. The offering is complete with a luxury price tag averaging around $2,000. This brand extension has truly given it a leg up on the basis of competition when it comes to design.

Defending your position through brand extension strategies

Keeping an eye on the competition means more today than predicting their linear moves. Brands are teaming up across industries, across audiences and across product lines to create new hybrid projects that boost the power of both brands or introduce entirely new offerings.

Often, the insights that led to the formation of these partnerships were found when the brands looked out at their wider industry and customer behaviour to draw parallels and discover gaps in the market.

These strategic plays can be monitored via Outside Insight. Is the brand hiring for expertise outside of its core industry? Are they investing heavily in R&D or new patents? Has there been buzz in the media or on social about an unlikely creative collaboration? Has there been a change in management? All of these questions point to clues that can be discovered in the breadcrumbs brands are leaving behind, enabling competitors to remain one step ahead.

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