Carhartt had a question. Could the brand continue to connect with hardworking women and men after their workday was done?
There’s a set of values that Carhartt has built over time. One of them is that their customer wants to ‘make the most with less’—such as repairing broken items as opposed to buying new ones. Another is ‘tackling practical projects’. Then there’s the awesome ‘work ethic.’ A final value is ‘celebrating the craftsmen’.
Carhartt spent a year or so in research on these themes and what came out was a brand extension: the Carhartt Woodsman pale ale, which, not only connected with their current customer, it provided the ability to take the brand to a worker who may not wear Carhartt while at work, but had the same internal DNA.
The beer sold out fast, brought in 34 million social media impressions and is slated to return.
Very smart marketers have stated that brand extensions dilute a brand, limit its focus and should be avoided. There’s truth to those concerns. It’s just that the world isn’t simply “either/or” anymore. It’s shades of gray, which is why Disney can have Disneyland, Dove can have shampoo and IKEA can have hotels.
A great brief to tackle is the brand extension. Any brand with a solid Brand Purpose who is looking to enhance their brand associations, draw in relevant audiences who are too distant, or diversify their platform can take the approach that Carhartt did. And we crave briefs like that.