November 19, 2019
Brand extension — expanding your product line into new categories — can be an explosive strategy. Think of Apple when they moved from personal computers into consumer tech with the first-ever iPod release, or KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, two brands that got their start in reality TV and shifted into the wildly successful cosmetics business. In both cases, brand extension opened the floodgates for innovation and made billions — of dollars as a result.
However, brand extension isn’t just for household names. Budding fashion brands and Etsy sellers often see a huge uptick in sales when incorporating accessories into their inventory. For instance, local coffee shops benefit from the increased revenue of branded merch items, which turn their most loyal patrons into walking advertisements. Regardless of how large your brand currently is, the advantages of brand extension are the same — even with products as small as pins and patches.
Custom accessories are a popular first step for brands looking to extend their product lines. That’s because items like pins and patches are quick, easy, and cost-effective to manufacture — and because they’re practically irresistible to today’s shoppers. Small, cute, and inexpensive, they’re easy for a customer to tack on to an existing purchase. This is the example we’ll turn to when evaluating the following advantages of brand extension:
No matter what you’re selling, pins, patches, and other small accessories are bound to be priced at a lower level. That means, by expanding your product line into accessories, you’re opening your brand to customers who may not want to spend very much money — or who aren’t quite ready to commit to purchasing any of your big-ticket items. This makes your brand immediately accessible to a much wider range of buyer personas.
Especially for small businesses, brand extension has the potential to improve your overall brand reputation. The more products you offer, the more your company looks legitimate and established to passersby in person and on social media. Accessories like pins and patches make for excellent social media content as well, offering you a greater variety of items to post on a regular basis. Visual variety is also beneficial in-person, with cash wrap displays and storefronts seeing increased foot traffic when colorful accessories are added into the mix. Variety draws customers in — and assuming you’re working with a reputable manufacturer, your products’ quality will keep them coming back for more.
Because accessories have a quicker turnaround time than most other manufactured products, you have the opportunity to capitalize on trends almost immediately. Even better, pins and patches themselves are currently trending as mediums. Ornate pins were featured on countless celebrity tuxedo lapels at the 2019 Emmys, and patches have risen to new heights within the VSCO girl aesthetic. Moreover, if you partner with a company that can do small batch custom manufacturing on a short turn, you’ll be able to release accessories while the trends still rage.
Brand extension also offers you the opportunity to project your brand identity more solidly into your product line. Millennial audiences care what a company is about, and what issues you stand for. By releasing patches and pins that make a statement, you’ll attract customers who have similar passions. Patagonia, for example, launched a hugely successful “Worn Wear” program that allows customers to extend the life of their gear through reuse, repair, and recycling. Anywhere you see a “Worn Wear” patch, it signifies the company’s commitment to reducing waste and helping the planet. Small accessory add-ons like this can expand your brand identity and reinforce the values you hold as a company — and extend the value of core products.
The final and most important advantage of brand extension through accessories the opportunity to invest in your business with relatively low risk. Expanding inventories with full-scale production is inherently risky, because you have to shell out to meet high MOQs and you must move product quickly to avoid inventory bloat. With small batches of custom accessories, you can invest much less in each added SKU and therefore achieve a higher ROI on the products that really sell. You also get the standard brand extension bonus of reduced promotional costs. Small accessories like pins and patches are practically made for real life A/B testing, and custom on-demand manufacturing allows you the freedom to experiment — with low risk and everything to gain.
If brand extension sounds like a good next step for your business, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a good manufacturing partner who can create small batches of high-quality accessories. You could start your search on a network like Alibaba, but you have no way of vetting the hundreds of international companies who bid for your business — or of making sure their products actually measure up to retail-ready quality standards.
Instead, we recommend seeking out the services of a custom on-demand manufacturer like The/Studio. Our online product creation tool makes getting your first order incredibly simple. Plus, we offer free design services for those who may not have a specialized accessories designer already in-house. With on-demand manufacturing, you get the benefit of doing a brand extension with a partner who’s already vetted all the factories, ironed out the logistics, and mastered the art of creating super high-quality accessories. In such a creator-friendly environment, there is no limit to what you can make.
The/Studio is an end-to-end custom manufacturing solution that allows you to harness all the advantages of brand extension. We help clients manufacture custom accessories and apparel with low MOQs and incredible quality. To launch your next product with an expert partner by your side, contact us today.