It’s Okay to be Narrow-Minded (Or, How to Not Dilute Your Brand)

confused-manSometimes, success can go to a company’s head. This usually equates to spin-off products or services, as businesses venture out into other industries, hoping to get into the mix of things in other markets.

Believe it or not, this is very rarely a good thing. Getting too involved in too many different markets can cause brand dilution. This can be one of the biggest obstacles that a business will ever have to overcome. Not only does it result in the loss of money and time, but it can also make your brand looked foolish or even confused about its identity.

Here’s an example. When you hear the name Harley Davidson, a certain picture comes to mind. Beautiful, hulking bikes. People—mostly men in their 30s-50s—out on the open road, experiencing freedom on their motorcycles. It really doesn’t conjure images of men primping in the mirror and making sure they smell great.

Regardless, not so long ago, Harley Davidson thought they could get into the perfume and aftershave market. Sales were okay but not great. One might think that Harley Davidson would venture into motor oils or spark plugs before jumping into the toiletries market.

While there was no serious backlash, there was an obvious dilution here. Men that considered themselves as biker hard-asses would not be caught dead in the mall buying cologne or fancy aftershave, no matter what name or logo was on the bottle. Luckily for Harley Davidson, they had established a strong enough brand recognition that this failed experiment didn’t cause them much harm.

But here’s the thing…your business doesn’t have the luxury of unbreakable brand recognition. The lesson here is to focus your brand on your one specific service or product. If you are an ad agency, do not confuse yourself by also becoming a small printing company. If you are a bike repair shop, don’t get wrapped up in collectible bike-related toys.

Stay focused on what you know you are good at and out all of your time and energy on that. Don’t get distracted by other ventures and make the mistake of diluting your brand.


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