On a trip to Switzerland last week I saw the bizarre bit of branding which is Editions, the new range extension from Red Bull: Silver (lime), Blue (blueberry) and Red (cranberry). The range was also launched in Germany last September.
I'm really not sure this will give the sales of Red Bull wings. Let's have a look why.
Addressing a barrier to trial?
Let's start with the good stuff first. The role of core range extension can be to overcome barrier to trial. And perhaps Editions addresses such a barrier by changing the taste of the product? I'm not a big Red Bull drinker, but I have heard that some people like the energy it offers, but not the taste. As the advertising for Editions states, it offers "New tastes, same energy".
However, even if the new taste benefit is relevant, the problem is whether people will pick it off the shelf...which brings us to the next point.
Breaking memory structure, not building on it
Editions' bizzare branding fails to build on one of the world's strongest identities. The Red Bull visual identity is very powerful and helps you find Red Bull on auto-pilot. It has several key elements, none of which are used in Editions:
RED BULL vs. EDITIONS
1. The 4-quadrant design vs. Block of colour
2. Red, silver, blue vs. Red or silver or blue
3. The two clashing bulls in the middle vs. Bit of one bull
4. Red Bull name in red, centrally positioned vs. Red Bull small, vertical on the side
By breaking all these codes, it looks on shelf like there are three new products called Blue, Silver and Red.
Creating fresh consistency
The challenge with Editions, as with any range extension, is balancing two conflicting objectives:
1. Freshness: to make the new range stand out
2. Consistency: to build on the brand memory structure
In the case of Editions freshness clearly won the day.
A better balance was achieved with the sugar free version. This kept three of the four key elements of the brand identity (quadrants, name and bull), changing only the colours. This means you can distinguish the two versions on shelf, but it still looks like Red Bull.
In conclusion, Red Bull Editions shows the challenge of creating fresh consistency with range extension design. In my view, Editions has gone too far towards freshness, and this will reduce the ease of shopping at the shelf.
It will be interesting to see the decision of UK marketing director, Huib van Bockel. He was quoted in Marketing this week as being in the process of deciding "if and when" to launch Editions.