Measuring Brand Meaning

Gillian Oakenfull, Edward Blair, Betsy Gelb, and Peter Dacin

Brand extensions constitute an estimated 95% of the 16,000 new products launched in the United States every year, according to Murphy (1997). Extensions are popular because they can provide new products with a ready-made image while helping existing products through increased brand exposure. However, extending a brand name to inappropriate products may result in product failure and/or reduced brand value.

In the research described here, we introduce a categorization-based procedure to help marketers identify key elements of a brand’s meaning for purposes of extension. We believe the best extensions can only be generated when marketers know which attributes are most definitive of the brand and also know what the brand cannot be. Our procedure identifies such attributes through judgments of 'fit' between products and brands. We discuss the concept of 'fit' next and subsequently describe our procedure and illustrate its use.