Have Maximuscle pushed the “new brand” button too fast?

A new launch by Maximuscle, the hard-core sports nutrition company, makes me wonder if they've pressed the "NEW BRAND" button too quickly. They've launched a whole new range for women called… Maxitone.

Now, wherever possible, you should stick to one brand. This has huge benefits for the business, by ensuring focus in building one strong brand, and allowing marketing efficiency (one brand identity, you can do joint advertising and promotion). It also keeps things simple for the consumer: one brand, with different products.

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Now, you can see why you need a separate range for women, focused on toning and weight loss, with its own more feminine pack. But why the new, rather hybrid of a brand? It uses the word "Maxi" and the star symbol. Yet its a new brand name.
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So, what is the overall "parent brand" now? I guess its *maxi. Mmmm, not great.

The key to getting the right branding on a new product is to consider the stretch from the core brand today.

– Functional stretch: does the consumer believe we can make it?

– Emotional stretch: the personality and feel of the new produc

As the stretch gets bigger you work through branding options.. from a simple product descriptor, to an ownable descriptor (not the dreaded "sub-brand") to a new brand with endorsement through to, the last resort, a new brand.

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In this case the functional stretch is small. Women will have seen their boyfriends or husbands using Maximuscle. And I bet the Maximuscle range is already bought by women, who like the authority and performance credentials of the brand.

The emotional stretch is bigger. We want something for strong, confident women, not big, muscle-bound guys. But, this suggests you could have created a new female range from the Maximuscle brand. That way you stick to building one strong brand, with a range for women, and a range for men.

Now, I guess the argument knocked back over the net will be that the Maximuscle brand is, well, too muscle-y, and that women wouldn't buy it. Fair challenge.

But, I'd make two points.

One, its worked for Gillette with their female range of razors, which last time I checked was bigger than the male razor business. As with Maximuscle, women were stealing their guy's product. And they liked the authority and performance credentials of the brand. So, Gillette created a range for them, with more female design.

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Second, whatever people say in focus groups, if the product's good enough, they'll buy it. A great product, in a nice pack, with performance credentials, at the right price, in the right shop… then if its Definity from Maximuscle, or Maxitone, people will still buy it.

In conclusion, before you launch a new brand, with the risk of fragmentation of investment and dilution of equity, than think through how big the stretch is. And do it only as a very last resort.