Brand Building Step-by-Step - Part 3: Restraint in Brand Building

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Posted Jan 13, 2012
Susan Gunelius

So far in the Brand Building Step-by-Step series, you've learned about the first two steps of brand building -- consistency and persistence. The third fundamental step you need to understand in order to successfully build your brand is restraint, and that's the subject of Part 3 of the series. All of your efforts in brand consistency and persistence could be destroyed with a single unrestrained brand extension or expansion that confuses consumers or violates their trust. That's a mistake you don't want to make!


Most businesses want to grow, so it makes sense to pursue opportunities that open the doors to growth. However, not all growth opportunities are right for your brand. Sometimes, you have to say "no" to an opportunity that runs counter to your brand promise. In other words, some business opportunities can do more harm than good to your brand and your business' long-term goals.

The reason goes back to the first step in brand building -- consistency. You don't want to be short-sighted when you pursue growth opportunities. For example, when Mercedes launched an inexpensive model a few years ago, the brand's most loyal customers were not happy. Suddenly, a brand that consistently represented itself as high-end was catering to a low-end audience. That inconsistency led to consumer confusion. Many existing Mercedes customers believed that the brand had broken its promise to them. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, confusion is the leading brand killer. By exercising restraint, you reduce the chances for brand confusion.

It can be challenging to turn your back on a brand extension or expansion opportunity that could drive profits in the short-term. However, brand building is a long-term strategy. If a growth opportunity only delivers short-term value but could hurt the brand in the future, it's probably not an opportunity you want to pursue.

This is an area where brand research can play an important role in helping you choose the right growth opportunities to pursue. By surveying both your existing customers and the broader consumer audience through opinion panels, you can gather the data you need to make the best decisions. In Part 4 of the Brand Building Step-by-Step series, you'll learn more about conducting market research in order to successfully develop your brand, so stay tuned to the AYTM blog.

Bottom-line, it's essential that you balance growth potential with long-term brand building goals. Don't be tempted by big short-term dollar signs to pursue something that could damage your brand down the road. It's rare that it's the right decision to risk alienating your existing customers in order to attract new customers. Always remember that your core, loyal customers are the bread and butter of your business. For Mercedes, its high-end clientele is the customer segment that has made the brand what it is today. Sacrificing the trust of that core audience by rolling out a cheap model was a long-term branding mistake. And that's the type of mistake you don't want to make.

If you missed earlier parts of the Brand Building Step-by-Step series, you can follow the links below to read them now and catch up:

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