July 09, 2009

Academic Brand Extensions

Un_university The United Nations recently launched what they claim to be the world’s first tuition-free online university. Dubbed University of the People, the site aims to bring education to the masses. Shai Reshef, head of the venture, has ambitions of giving free textbooks, e-learning, and peer-to-peer teaching to hundreds of millions of people with no access to conventional teaching methods. According to the UN, students will be placed in classes of 20, after which they can log on to a weekly lecture, discuss it with their peers, and take tests online. Volunteer professors, graduate students, and students in other classes offer additional training. Visit the University of the People here.

Jackwelch Those with perhaps a less overtly altruistic bent might consider another educational brand extension – the Jack Welch online MBA. The Jack Welch Management Institute is slated to begin classes this autumn, with an MBA running a mere $20,000 (versus some $100,000 the old-fashioned way). "We think it will make the MBA more accessible to those who are hungry to play," Businessweek quotes Welch as saying. "And they can keep their job while doing it." More here.

June 01, 2009

Aesthetic Extensions

Lego Lego keeps coming up with clever extensions. Hard on the heels of the Lego camera (covered in a prior post on this blog) comes the Lego Architecture series, featuring all the Lego you’ll need to recreate a Frank Lloyd Wright home or a scale model of the Guggenheim Museum. Rather than a gimmick, the product seems to be truly educational and fun. “Lego Architecture works to inspire future architects, engineers, and designers as well as architecture fans around the world with the Lego brick as a medium,” says the manufacturer.

Meanwhile, you could have visited the actual Guggenheim Museum to attend the world premier of another brand extension. French parfumier Christophe Laudamiel, creator of products for brands like Clinique and Ralph Lauren, commissioned an opera punctuated by 23 scents. The work, entitled Green Aria, will introduce olfactory stimuli to “tell the story of an epic struggle between nature and industry." Laudamiel is both innovative creator and smart businessman, the Wall Street Journal reports. The opera serves to drum up some publicity for his larger business of marketing a "new scent technology to hotels, movie theaters, videogame makers and other entertainment companies that want to pack a bigger sensory punch.” More here.

May 18, 2009

LoJack Now Finds Missing People

Lojack The company whose name became a byword in locating stolen vehicles is now extending into finding people. This February LoJack launched SafetyNet, a service for “tracking and rescuing people at risk of wandering,” including those with Alzheimer’s and autism.

“This offering is a natural extension of LoJack’s family of products and services and takes our solutions beyond ‘getting the bad guys’ off the streets to now protecting those afflicted with cognitive disorders by helping return them safely to their loved ones and caregivers,” said Ronald Walters, LoJack’s CEO.

LoJack SafetyNet consists of a “personal locator beacon” worn by the client, a search-and-rescue receiver for law enforcement, a database about the clients to assist in search and rescue, 24x7 emergency caregiver support and training for law-enforcement and public-safety agencies. LoJack plans to roll out the solution to 200 agencies over the next 12 months. Read more here.

Is this a logical extension for LoJack, or an extension where the brand has little to add? Your thoughts?

December 28, 2008

The Results Are In...

2008survey What do Burger King underwear, Kellogg's hip-hop street wear and Allstate Green insurance have in common? They all were voted among the worst brand extensions of 2008. Earlier this month, TippingSprung polled 689 Brandweek readers and other marketing professionals, online, about this year's flurry of brand extensions. Among others voted thumbs-down: Coca-Cola's RPet clothing at Wal-Mart, Playboy energy drink and Disney Sleeping Beauty executive fountain pens priced at up to $1,200, particularly ill-timed in this economy.

Accentuating the positive, Campbell's V8 Soup was selected the top beverage extension. Nearly 77 percent of marketers said it was a good idea. Coppertone sunglasses and Mr. Clean performance car washes were named the best brand extensions, according to 31.2 percent and 25.7 percent of respondents, respectively.

For Ken Hein’s full coverage in Brandweek, click here. To receive a full survey report (available in the first half of January 2009), email us.

This is TippingSprung's fifth annual brand-extension survey conducted with Brandweek. Past winners include Iams pet health insurance and Huggies Little Swimmers sunscreen; past losers include Precious Moments coffins, Hooters airlines, Cheetos lip balm and Salvador Dalí deodorant (yes, these are/were all real products). Feel free to write us for past results as well.

November 28, 2008

National Geographic: The Store

NationalgeographicThose daring to shop this season who happen to be in London may enjoy visiting the new National Geographic store, the first of its kind. The 20,000-square-foot outlet seems the perfect extension of this venerable brand. Products range from locally sourced collectables to items designed for the "rigors of adventure and exploration." The Guardian reports that visitors can road-test products in special high-wind and temperature chambers.

The shop is dedicated to "stimulating, educating and inspiring visitors to celebrate global cultures." It will include a rotating series of curated exhibits, artwork from the magazine, and a café serving tapas and other slow food. More here.

Also featured is the Genographic Project, a program cosponsored by IBM which will collect and analyze 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous peoples around the world. You can pick up a kit at the shop for $100 and receive a confidential analysis on how your own genes reflect broader patterns in the population. Read more on the Genographic Project here.

November 23, 2008

Participate in Brandweek/TippingSprung's 2008 Brand Extension Survey

Extension_survey_header_small_3Brand extensions seem to be everywhere these days - footwear from Harley-Davidson, a baby stroller from Jeep and, yes, even the kitchen sink from Jacuzzi.

But which ones are smart, well-developed ideas and which ones are just taking up space?

TippingSprung, a branding consultancy based in New York City, in collaboration with Brandweek, the newsweekly of marketing, invites you to participate in our fifth annual survey to rank this year's top brand extensions.

We're sending this confidential survey to you as a branding professional and thought leader. It should only take five or 10 minutes of your time to complete - if you do, we'll send you a set of complete results, and include you in a drawing for some attractive promotional items from Brandweek.

Click here to take the survey. Please respond by December 2, 2008.

October 29, 2008

Bringing an Apple to School

YaleIn past entries, we’ve talked about brands extending through education -– including McDonald’s Hamburger U, Sephora University, and the BMW Driving School.

Apple has just raised the bar on corporate training, by naming the dean of Yale’s school of management as an Apple vice president and dean of Apple University. Joel Podolny, credited with revamping the Yale business-school curriculum and improving the institution’s standing, recently announced his imminent departure for Cupertino.

The Yale Daily News reported that Apple insiders, speaking off the record, expected Podolny to focus on executive education.

Podolny is known for his interdisciplinary approach, which Apple apparently sees as the wave of the future for leading business thinkers. The investment seems like a move to the head of the class for Apple. Read more here. For past coverage on companies extending their brands through smart training programs, click here.

October 15, 2008

Mass-Market Boutique

WorldofgoodeBay has just launched – "the world’s first online marketplace to convene thousands of People Positive and Eco Positive sellers and products all in one place, empowering you to shop in ways that align with your personal values."

The venture is a partnership with World of Good, Inc., an organization founded in 2004 with the goal of building bridges between "thousands of marginalized artisans around the world" and consumers looking for socially responsible products. In addition to the eBay partnership, World of Good has longstanding relationships with Whole Foods, Borders, and Wegmans. seems like a remarkably clever brand extension to us – it has a fresh interface, completely distinct from that of eBay, yet it leverages all of that organization’s buying power and technical know-how. All listings are also available on, thus bringing many artisanal products onto the screens of eBay’s 84 million active users worldwide. includes a number of distinctive features, including Trustology – a series of seals from "Trust Providers" that are used to validate the environmental or social claims of the products – and Goodprint, a tool that lets users find products and suppliers that match their interests and values. Visit

May 08, 2008

Retooling a Classic

Harley_2Dark Custom Cross Bones may sound like a character from J.K. Rowling, but this brand extension is pure Harley, not Harry. A sub-brand from Harley-Davidson, Dark Custom features stripped-down designs inspired by vintage post-war bikes. Gone are chrome and gleaming paint, replaced by blacked-out wheel rims, fenders, hubs, engine assembly, and the handle bars that lend the line its sinister name. Losing the chrome makes Dark Custom more affordable to younger riders, with some models selling under $10,000 (touring Harleys can cost upward of $35,000). With the average age of a Harley buyer around 46, an authentic, gritty sub-brand is a smart way to reach the next generation of Easy Riders. And because Dark Custom stays true to Harley’s roots and builds on the company’s heritage, it shouldn’t alienate the older wrinkly riders.

February 01, 2008

Precious Moments Caskets?!

The results are in for the fourth-annual TippingSprung brand-extension survey.

  • PetSmart PetsHotel was named best overall brand extension with 34.3% of the vote. Huggies Sunscreen came in a close second with 29.0%, followed by Disney Wedding Gowns.
  • The ASPCA Collection of pet travel and safety products was named best nonprofit extension, edging out the Smithsonian Home Collection.
  • Preciousmoments_2

  • Worst brand extension, for the extension that seems least to fit with the brand’s core values, was won by Precious Moments urns and caskets (33.9% of respondents). The Humane Society Dog Lovers Wine Club came in a close second with 28.4% of the votes.

Top-rated brand extensions in past years include Iams pet health insurance and American Red Cross emergency radios. Prior “worst” extensions went to Hooters Air airlines and Cheetos lip balm.

Complete survey reports are available upon request. We’d also love to receive ideas for brand extensions that you think merit consideration for next year’s survey. Email us here. For Brandweek coverage, click here.

About This Blog

Brand extensions are all around us — clothing from the Sierra Club, furniture polish from Steinway and, yes, even the kitchen sink from Jacuzzi. TippingSprung, a New York-based brand-extension consultancy, publishes an annual survey on brand extensions with Brandweek. If you spot a noteworthy extension for the blog or survey, email us.



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