Building brand equity through products

There are plenty of boundaries when it comes to creating a brand, and one of those boundaries can be product development.  Does the product speak to the overall feeling of the brand? Are there too many products? Not enough? Two companies we studied in my brand equity class – Nivea and Nike – did a great job of using their product lines to contribute to brand equity (aka, the character of the brand). While both companies had their issues, they provide an interesting look into what it means to expand a product line.

Nike started their product with something they knew well – running shoes – and continued to develop that line for many years. In our class text, one piece of advice was to increase the efficiency of promotional expenditures (Keller Text, 498)  – which Nike did when it hired Steve Prefontaine as its first professional spokesperson. He was successful in the running market and Nike signed him before his fame – the sponsorship helped build the brand as a premier running shoe (Keller Case, 127.) That equity stuck with Nike when it developed shoes for other sports, including basketball. Nike was able to leverage its reputation for making a superior running shoe into creating superior shoes for all sports (Keller Text, 512-513). It’s product line continued to evolve, both on a US and a global scale. Nike sought out opportunities to understand the global market by finding different sports to promote, such as soccer, and integrating those promotions.

Nivea focused on building sub-brands in the same category – skin care. The success of Nivea Creme became a building block for the brand, which then extended into lines such as Nivea Visage and Nivea Body. In each extension case, Nivea focused on branding the project separately but keeping all the brand linked by a “Blue Bible” (Keller Case, 240.) This brand book outlined how Nivea’s different products lines could market themselves (in looks and in messaging) to stand out yet be seen as part of the Nivea family.  In fact, executives credited the Bible for being the most important branding step they took – as a global company with many different sub-brands, the document helped tie messaging, packing and promotion together so the brand was recognizable as one entity. (Keller Case, 243).

As a brand and a company, what can you do to focus on expanding your product line while keeping true to your brand?

Keller, Kevin Lane. (2008). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Keller, Kevin Lane. (2008). Best Practice Cases in Branding: Lessons from the World’s Strongest Brands (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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