Brands become symbols of their cultures or countries in which they are associated. Examples of brands becoming icons of their countries are Budweiser (American), Patron (Mexican), Louis Vuitton (French), Ferrari (Italian), Sello Rojo (Colombian coffee), etc. Not only are these brands a symbol in their own countries, but they are also a symbol in the United States to non-natives of the brand as well as natives. The symbol of these brands is not what you can physically see but more of what you can envision in your head. For example, when you think of Budweiser, you think BBQ, good times with family and friends, chili cookoffs, football games, etc. The symbol the brand has created in American culture is the brand image in the eyes of the consumer. Another example is Louis Vuitton. The cultural symbol Louis Vuitton brings to mind is sophistication, class, high quality, and luxury. There are many brands, not just the ones listed above, that bring different symbols or icons of their cultures to the forefront of the mind of the consumer.
Once a brand has established itself as a perceived image in the minds of consumers, they sometimes like to create brand extensions to grow as a brand and also branch off into a different area in order to attract consumers. For instance, a brand that is well known its music, airlines, and trains; Virgin; tried to extend its brand into water purifiers. Although the brand is well known, it did not do well when they launched their water purifiers. The product did not gain much recognition or success, even though the brand was well known. This Business Insider article shows how a successful brand has tried to launch over 400 companies under the Virgin brand, but they were not all successful. https://www.businessinsider.com/richard-branson-fails-virgin-companies-that-went-bust-2016-5 /
Another example of brand extensions is in 2000; Harley Davidson launched its brand extension of branded cologne and aftershave. A brand that is well recognized, such as Harley Davidson, you think would welcome a brand extension of cologne and aftershave well to the market, but unfortunately, it fizzled out quickly. In hindsight, critics point out that customer audience research and some well-developed purchaser personas would have indicated that Harley rider brand values are not focused on smelling good. Loyal fans believed it did not fit in with the tough brand identity. Take a look at this case study of Harley Davidson and some of its brand extensions, which were not successful. http://www.casestudyinc.com/harley-davidson-brand-extension-failure
Whether it be brand image or brand extensions, consumers will hold a certain standard and image in their mind about what they believe the brand should stand for. Creating brand extensions can often be tricky. Although a brand may be well known and established in the industry they are in, they may not always be positively received in a new product market. Leveraging what the brand stands for and what the new product has to offer within the extension may mean the difference between success and failure.