Marketing Idea No. 227 – How to do a brand extension like Abhisekh Bacchan

There are many ways to look at a name. Shakespeare thought its no biggy. After all he felt rose in any other name would smell just as sweet. Some think of it as a shortcut: a shortcut to a goal that can be paved by having a handy name. But almost all think of names as something important enough to spend days, even months deciding it. And considering the life-long impact that names have, it is kind of important. But that is for the name you can choose. What if the name is imposed on you? What to do then?

If you are a star child in a film industry like Bollywood, you would probably think of it as either a blessing or a curse, depending on the actual name itself and what you intend to do with it. But a simple rule of thumb (If ever there can be a rule of thumb for star childs in Bollywood) is in the beginning of your career tagging the name of your famous daddy can be a blessing because it opens doors for you. But in the long run, its a curse because for that tag alone, people will compare you all the time with your famous daddy. And the trick that is needed here is the star child must create an identity of his/her own, which is separate from the famous father/mother.

A fantastic case is Abhisekh Bacchan, son of famous Amitav Bacchan and Esha Deol, daughter of “Dream Girl” Hema Malini. As Amitav has always been considered as an actor’s actor who honed his craft by playing serious, melodramatic, “Angry Man” roles, Abhisek created an identity of his own as a cool dude, very much a flag bearer of the new generation and made his mark in comedy roles. Which is why despite having the biggest baggage of all (the Bacchan name), Abhisekh is very much his own man, his own brand. The same unfortuntaley couldnt happen to Esha Deol, who was always considered as Hema Malini’s daughter. She suffered the same fate as Twinkle Khanna who also like her super star mother Dimple, never really stood out with an identity of her own. The streets of Bollywood are unfortunately wet with the tears of many such star children who couldnt create his/her own identity. 

The lesson to learn from this is that with a brand extension (where we simply take an existing popular brand name and launch a new line of products with that name), in the short run you might get good results but in the long run the extension must have an identity and strength which is different from the parent brand name and also in a way should give something back to the parent brand. Only then can this be mutually beneficial, complementary, sustainable and profitable branding exercise. If the brand extension’s sole purpose is to piggyback on the main brand name all the way without creating a space/identity of its own, then this exercise will be a waste of money in the long run.

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