What Is a Brand Extension Creative Agency?

Two brand extension creative agency designers at work.

There sure are a lot of design agencies out there.

Design agencies come in all shapes and sizes, each working within their own niche to provide a variety of services. For instance, ad agencies develop promotional campaigns for media buys in television, print, and digital; branding agencies help launch new brands or revitalize older ones; and creative agencies provide design assets as well as marketing materials and creative strategy. But what about a brand extension creative agency, one that specializes in brand extension and brand licensing?

At StyleWorks, we offer an array of services covering brand identity, strategy, packaging design, trend collections… You name it. But more often than not we work with brand owners, marketing managers, and branding agencies to launch their brands in new directions.

Our biggest clients have brands and properties that already dominate a particular market. These are brands with rich histories, recognizable names, and reliable product lines — but they’re brands with room to grow.

By “brand extension,” we’re talking about when an established brand enters a new product category, like when a computer company puts out a digital music player — Apple’s iPod.

By “brand licensing,” we’re talking about an established brand having outside companies produce products using the brand’s intellectual property. Common examples include professional sports teams, entertainment franchises, or consumer product brands allowing third-party companies to create apparel, accessories, and other merchandise.

In both of these situations, the established brand’s intellectual property or identity is being applied to products and other offerings beyond the confines of the brand’s traditional market. Because internal creative teams can only do so much, this often calls for hiring a design agency of some sort, one that can adapt the intellectual property and provide manufacturers or licensees with the required brand assets — along with some kind of instruction on how to use them.

But is investing in a brand extension or brand licensing program always worth it?

Now, stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a chance in an unfamiliar market can be risky business. Even a traditional brand initiative requires a considerable investment of both capital and resources. And if it’s not done right, a brand extension can seem forced and, quite possibly, could even have a negative impact on consumer perception.

But a successful brand extension allows a brand to branch out in new directions, to find new sources of revenue while broadening its target audience. On top of that, new and licensed products in new product categories have the added bonus of directing attention back to the core product line, thus raising brand awareness and further strengthening a brand’s position in its own original target market.

This is where creative agencies that specialize in brand extension come in.

A good brand extension creative agency has a track record with similar clients and a thorough understanding of what is needed to get the job done. At StyleWorks, we specialize in developing brand visions and style guides that translate an established brand’s most fundamental elements and demonstrate exactly how those elements can be applied in a different context.

These deliverables aim to widen the scope of a brand while retaining the brand’s true essence and authenticity. They convey the brand’s mission and messaging, its voice and values, as well as its past success and current reach. With the strength of this foundation, they can then turn to positioning the brand for a whole new venture by visualizing what that venture might look like and the impact it would have on consumers.

The process gives the various stakeholders involved a chance to see the brand in a new light and can also help bring additional partners on board.

Licensing style guides take this a step further, fully realizing a brand in one or more new markets, from initial conception to the final package. They provide licensees with rules for working with the brand’s logo and other key identifiers, direction on how those identifiers should be treated, as well as inspiration for potential product applications.

The goal is to keep everyone on the same page, something especially important when working with multiple licensees creating new products for varied markets, sometimes found on opposite ends of the globe. And to provide stakeholders and business partners with what they need for success, the team developing these deliverables has to be fluent in brand extension strategy, focused on the target audience and mindful of the brand image.

So… what is a brand extension creative agency?

A brand extension creative agency is a team of designers, copywriters, and creative strategists, led by seasoned creative directors with extensive experience overseeing brand initiatives that introduce a brand to new markets through products and other offerings worthy of the brand’s established name. More importantly, it’s a team of creatives that can imagine a world of possibilities while immersing themselves in the world of a brand. This way they can partner with their clients to develop creative assets and assist in a marketing strategy that pushes boundaries while staying true to the brand’s mission.

Such an agency has the ability to recognize a brand’s full potential. And it can provide a vision of that potential along with a roadmap for how to get there.

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To learn more about designing for brand extensions and what we do at StyleWorks Creative, check out our portfolio or visit our Services page for a complete list of deliverables.