Brand Extensions We Could Do Without

Marketing by brand is big money, but just how far can you stray from your core product or service before consumers say no?

Picture this: A burly, tattooed Hell’s Angel wears a dainty gingham apron over his black leather biker vest as he frosts a birthday cake. It’s a highly incongruous image, but one that leapt to my mind upon hearing of the Harley-Davidson brand cake-decorating kit currently available for sale via baking stores and Web sites.

You can see the thinking. Riding a Harley (HDI) is more than a form of transportation, it’s a lifestyle. Shouldn’t the company take advantage of that by introducing branded products that its fans need in life—such as icing?

But when there’s extreme dissonance between a company’s core identity and a new product launched to reach untapped markets, corporations risk diluting the power of their brands. Would you buy Bic underwear or Pirates of the Caribbean jewelry?

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3 Responses
  1. J. Douglas

    Well, women are a huge market for HD and targeting them, in a way is like targeting their husbands. It’s been commonly known that women are the chief influencers of automobile purchases. Many people tend to sterotype the biker babe as one who would rather purchase a Harley G-string over Betty Crocker. But most of biker babes I know are conservative homemakers who would relish the idea of spreading the Harley brand at their next birthday party.

  2. J. Douglas

    Ironically, Bic makes stereo equipment. The only place I’ve ever seen it for sale is on, which is quite telling.

  3. Lisa C

    I don’t know that I would go so far as your first comment, but it is true that bikers can also be members of the corporate and homemaker set. My parents’ best friends (aka my “second set of parents” while growing up) continue to be a bank manager and a fireman during the week, but are now bikers on the weekend, leather and all.

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