Okay I’ll admit it. I love “Duck Dynasty”.
I can’t explain exactly why I love the show so much but I just finished watching a marathon. Maybe it’s because the show at its heart is about family and I’m definitely down with that. I even have a favorite character, Jack. (Those of you who watch the show will get that less-than-subtle hint.) Actually, I’ve even thought about taking up duck hunting and I do find myself wearing a bit of camo every now and then. I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t be wearing camo, even occasionally, if not for Duck Dynasty.
By anyone’s account the TV show is a smashing success, boosting the sales of the Duck Commander Company that the program highlights exponentially. Parallel to the Duck Commander brand is the Duck Dynasty brand. I just researched all the products that carry those two brand names and discovered everything from birthday invitations and t-shirts to Chia Pets and pacifiers. And now there’s even Duck Dynasty wine. The word ubiquitous comes to mind when I think of these dual brands. They’re starting to be everywhere. But this ubiquity is starting to make me a little nervous.
As a marketing professor and strategist I fully understand Branding 101. One of the best things about having a strong brand is the opportunity it presents to stretch and extend the brand. It could take years to build a solid and successful brand. Brand building requires a lot of investment and any smart marketer wants to leverage all of that investment. But even strong brands can be stretched almost to the point of breaking and marketers have to be careful here.
Make no mistake. Brand extensions can be very successful (think Disney) But there are a number of examples of brands that have been overextended and stretched almost too far. That potential for overextension is proportional to the amount of diversity of the products to be branded. There must be a logical alignment in the mind of consumers between what the brand stands for and the nature of the product to which the brand is being extended. Bic is often a brand that’s been offered as an example of overextension. In the book Brand Failures: The Truth About the 100 Bigesst Brand Failures of All Time author Matt Haig talks about Bic’s foray into the perfume business. Bic Parfum was scrapped three years after it launched. Another Bic brand extension failure often cited is Bic Pantyhose. As Barbara Thau in a recent Forbes article points out, “…the link between pens, razors and lighters, and women’s undergarments, was a tad tenuous”.
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So what should the Duck Dynasty and Duck Commander folks be cautious of? The main thing that comes to mind is brand dilution which can be triggered by overexposure of the brand. If too many people have too many Duck Dynasty/Commander products will they lose their cool factor and become run-of-the-mill? Of course for the marketers the temptation is to strike while the branding iron is hot. The TV show is popular so they of course want to take advantage of that popularity.
So maybe that’s enough and maybe I’m overthinking this. Oh well, I think I’ll just go watch another 20-episode marathon of the show Jack!