The Line Extension Trap

One of the core concepts in Ries and Trout’s classic “Positioning” is the concept of the line extension trap. Brands must communicate a simple message to consumers that sticks despite our society’s communication overload. A line extension such as Starbucks Liquor can “blur the sharp focus of the brand in the mind”. It is easy for companies to utilize their brand equity by attaching it to unrelated products like Harley Davidson Wine, but it dilutes the meaning of the brand for consumers and undercuts the brand positioning strategy. One example is Ralph Lauren who has extended their clothing line to colognes, eyeglasses, bedding, dog sweaters, wallpaper, paint, gardening tools, luggage, and much more. What does Ralph Lauren stand for? No one knows.