Forming strategic alliances with other brands can be a cost-effective and mutually beneficial way to both market your business and produce content. Brand collaboration can take many forms; from actively promoting each other on social media, to co-branding and launching a new product.
Given its many benefits, it’s no wonder this idea is becoming more and more popular. In fact, more than 60% of start-ups and small businesses are now working together to find new customers.
Are you considering brand collaboration? If so, make sure you read our five top tips first to find out if it’s right for your business, and how you might benefit.
Say you’re a health foods company. You’re approached by a large confectionary manufacturer who is interested in working with you. The exposure and brand awareness you’d receive off the back of the project would be significant. Do you start a brand collaboration?
In this instance, the partnership would most likely be ineffective due to a lack of brand fit. The values and image of a health foods company and those of a confectionary company are probably not closely aligned, making content creation and marketing difficult. A real life example of this was when McDonalds was announced as a partner for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. With such different brand values, many found the partnership confusing and inauthentic (the fast food chain was accused of misleading people into thinking their food was healthy by public health advocates).
The most effective brand collaborations occur when the brands in question naturally complement each other, but are not direct competitors. This way you are likely to have the same demographic, a similar tone of voice and desire to project the same message. The partnership between Innocent Drinks and vegetable box company Rocket Gardens is an example of good brand fit – they worked together to help teach children about eating healthily in 2012.
While it’s important to stay true to your brand and work with partners who both you and your customers see as a natural brand fit, don’t let that restrict your potential candidates to a just a few companies. It’s worthwhile to think about the future of your brand and the direction you’d like it to take five years down the line, as well as the image it has now.
Bottled water manufacturer Evian represents a brand who was bold enough to think out of the box – and it paid off. They collaborated with French designer Courreges to promote the label’s 50th anniversary. Although fashion and water aren’t a pairing that immediately springs to mind, the partnership worked to enhance Evian’s image as sophisticated and classic.
Brand fit isn’t the only thing you need to consider before choosing a brand to partner with. You’ll also want to audit your marketing and content activity to identify any areas where you’re weak, or haven’t managed to garner a huge following.
For example, you may have been concentrating on a select number of social media outlets and as a result, don’t have a presence on Pinterest. Identifying a brand who has a lot of activity and followers on this platform would be beneficial in widening your reach and getting your name out to new audiences. The impact on your marketing here would be much more effective than simply shouting again into an arena where you are already making a lot of noise.
Similarly, you may also choose to associate yourself with a brand who has certain values you would like to market yourself as having; but that you don’t necessarily have already. Think back to the health foods example – this brand could partner with a sportswear manufacturer, benefitting from the association with fitness as well as good nutrition.
To help guide your decisions on what might be a good brand fit for you, always try to keep the best interests of your customers’ as your top priority. Looking through their eyes will help you filter what is a good fit and what isn’t.
Consider what other brands your customers may interact with or show interest in. Social media is a great place to research this, and surveys are also an informative route to take.
For your partnership to be successful, you need to build a strong and profitable relationship with your brand partner. A collaboration is not something to be left simmering away in the background of your marketing landscape; you’re likely to get out exactly what you put in.
It’s key to spend some time at the beginning of your agreement fleshing out exactly what both parties stand to gain from the partnership, as well as the expectations you may have. Make sure you’re both clear on how success will be measured, so you can track how you are doing at any given time.
Agree who will be responsible for what. If you are creating a lot of content, both brands need to be clear whose remit certain tasks fall under in order to avoid any disputes (and delays) further down the line. A successful partnership is one that has been effectively and extensively planned; not one that has popped up overnight.
What have been your experiences of working with other brands? Let us know in the comments below.