Branding Basics #11: Law of Fellowship


Greed has a tendency to get in the way of common sense.

Dominant brands try to grab even more of their category’s market share by broadening their appeal.  For a refresher on extending a brand, check out the previous article in our Branding Basics series, #10, The Law of Extensions.

The 11th Immutable Law of Branding indicates that as you try to broaden your appeal, you’re actually weakening it. The Law of Fellowship says that not only should leading brands tolerate competitors, they should embrace them.  Choice stimulates demand. It increases the buzz, and tends to increase sales in the category.  The competition allows the category to broaden, while allowing the brands to stay focused on their own style. They can each reach different demographics.

Customers see choice as a major benefit. In any dynamic and growing market, there are at least a few competing brands.  Market share is not based on merit, but on the power of the brand in the mind. For more on that idea, head on over and read our blog post on The Law of the Name.  Those few Brands who have real power seem to try to drive out any new competitors.

In the past handful of years, a new “light & fruity” category has opened up in the Canadian craft brewing industry.  Five years ago, a Grapefruit Radler by Steigl Brewery in Austria came onto the scene via McClelland Premium Imports, its Canadian distributor.  Their radler (German for cyclist) beer is 60% fruit soda and only 2.5% alcohol, and has fast become a seasonal favourite. “In one year, sales grew 400 per cent.”

Canadian craft brewers noticed the trend, and inspiration flourished. A few years ago, canada-radlerthere were virtually no options available. There are now several brewers across Canada that now features a radler on tap. From left to right on the map, options now include:

Of course, Major North American breweries took note as well. Molson Coors jumped to provide their own version of the new summer seasonal, the Rickard’s Radler.  Labatt owned Lowenbrau has a version. And, Germany’s Schofferhofer and Holland’s Bavaria also have their own radler type beers being distributed in Canada.

There sure seems to be a lot of options in the radler category of the Canadian beer industry. Should the frontrunner brands be worried about losing market share to their competitors? The #11 Immutable Law of Branding, The Law of Fellowship, says NO!

Remember, emerging categories benefit from healthy competition, and should embrace the added attention from the whole group.  It only helps to bring more customers into the category.  Forget the Greed. Feel the Love.


Take Away from Law of Fellowship

“In order to build the category, a brand should welcome other brands.”

photo via Waterloo Brewing Co.