Stretching to grow the core: Expert Impact Speakers

Expert Impact Mentors is a brilliant organisation that provides free mentoring to social entrepreneurs. I’ve worked as a volunteer mentor for several years and get a huge kick out of sharing tips and tools on creating brand-led growth. Expert Impact is now launching a new business: Expert Impact Speakers. This new service gets gigs for top speakers (including Louis Theroux, Lenny Henry and Kevin McCloud). The speaker bureau fee funds the mentoring side of Expert Impact. Speakers can also chose to donate some or all their speaker fee to Expert Impact. In this post I look at how this a good example of strategic stretching to grow the core.

1. Go beyond ‘halo’ image effects

A lot of marketing theory suggests a key benefit of brand stretching is the so called ‘halo effect’. The theory is that launching something new will have a positive  effect on the other products you sell. But often, these desired image effects are more of a mirage than a halo.

First, many brand stretch attempts fail (c. 70% by some estimates) or end up being small. And small launches tend to be small in every sense, including image effects. They get bought by few people, so first-hand experience of the product or service is limited. And, as they are small in volume, the marketing budget  allocated to communicate the new launches tends to be low too.

Second, the desired effect on the existing product range is INDIRECT. The new launch needs to change perceptions of the brand overall. And these enhanced brand attributes then need to have a knock-on effect on the rest of the range.

The occasional blockbuster brand stretching success does end up positively impacting the brand, with Apple’s iMac and the Audi TT being examples. But I suggest there is a better way to approach brand stretching.

2. Create a ‘brand ecosystem’

I suggest a better way to strategically stretch is to create a ‘brand ecosystem’. Here, we are looking not at indirect image effects but rather at direct business model effects. Let’s use Expert Impact Speakers as an example.

  • Leveraging the core: Expert Impact Speakers draws on Expert Impact’s roster of experienced mentors. These experts cover multiple fields, including leadership, HR, finance and marketing. Many are top speakers. And they are all highly motivated to help social entrepreneurs. 
  • Reinforcing the core: Expert Impact Speakers is a brilliant ‘feeder’ for the core Expert Impact Mentoring business model. First, the new speakers attracted by the speaker bureau offer are a potential source of new expert mentors. Secondly, the speaking offer raises awareness of Expert Impact with social entrepreneurs 

Yes, there are likely to be some positive image benefits from the launch of Expert Impact Speakers. But more important are the positive, self-reinforcing business model benefits, that work like a flywheel.

3. Successful stretching to grow the core

There are some good learnings from the Expert Impact Speakers example on how to stretch strategically:

  • Interrogate your core: what are the key strengths in your core business that could be the basis for brand stretch. Don’t just think in brand image terms. Look at your product or service, your capabilities and your distribution network. For example, Apple’s network of Apple Stores have been a valuable asset used to stretch the brand. Many people coming in store to look at an iPhone have ended up buying other Apple products, such as a MacBook laptop.
  • Look at adjacencies: having identified the “stretchable” brand assets, look at adjacent markets that have some link to your core business. For example, Dove started with a cleaning bar. Shower wash was an obvious adjacent category where the brand’s 1/4 moisturising cream product truth also added value 
  • Get your architecture right: when deciding on the visual identity of your brand stretch, get the right brand architecture. To do this, it helps to look at the degree of stretch from the core product or service. For Expert Impact, the speaker bureau was a relatively small stretch. Hence, use of simple descriptors was a good approach to distinguish the new and core offers, supported by different colours for each. This ensure that any positive image benefits do feed back to the Expert Impact brand.

In conclusion, Expert Impact Speakers shows how strategically stretching your brand can positively impact your core business model, not just your brand image.

To hire a speaker and help social entrepreneurs, see Expert Impact Speakers:

For more information on Expert Impact Mentoring: 

We also explore brand stretch alongside seven other modules on our Mastering Brand Growth program. We offer a reduced price for social enterprises. If you’d like to join the waitlist for the next program click here. Or to get a brochure, simply pop your name and email in the form below