Co-branding, brand partnerships, collaborations: first of all, what’s this all about?
Our article will give you an in-depth look at the brand-building tactic of partnerships from a fashion perspective, suggesting a few ways to exploit its full potential.
A brand partnership is the alliance of two different companies, that get together to form and sell a new product indicative of both their identities. It can be a fast and cost-effective way of boosting brand awareness and breaking into new markets, but only if it’s a win-win strategy for both the brands involved.
First of all, you need to identify a partner. You might already have someone in mind, maybe a firm in your industry or even in a completely different market. In any case, an effective way to decide is to create a pretty wide list of brands that you would be interested in.
To find the perfect fit, the companies’ cultures have to match so that the partnership can work and enhance your brand’s reputation and credibility.
An in-depth analysis should follow so that you will be able to discard all the non-fitting brands. Before contacting the interesting ones, do a lot of research using tools like Alexa.com or Buzzsumo.com, subscribe to your prospects newsletter and check their social media profiles. Learn everything you can about the target companies and their audience.
For a co-branding strategy to be effective, the goals of the campaign need to be established beforehand. This kind of partnership can work for different objectives: building a different brand image that may be more appealing to customers, enhancing the user experience in a new way or expanding the customer base, you choose.
Once the strategic goals are defined, move on to define the marketing mix: which one of your products makes the foremost sense to co-brand, and which distribution channels work best for you? Also, make sure that co-branding won’t damage sales on your product core line.
As brand partnerships become increasingly crucial to revenue growth, organizations must develop an impeccable operational strategy. This way, it’s possible to leverage the correct tools to meet tactical best practices to ensure partnership success.
Partnerships take many shapes. Recently, new models are more focused on referrals, as new forms of transactions and influence have come out. Think of social influencers, affiliates marketing, ambassadors, and media houses that are uniquely positioned to reach a brand’s target audience in the moment of need. These partners can boost not only awareness but also revenues for a brand through referral traffic (i.e. the traffic coming from the partner’s website).
According to recent research brought out by Forrester, and conducted among the 450+ companies surveyed from the US, EMEA, and APAC, over half of them (52%) got more than 20% of their revenues from co-brandings and brand partnerships channels in the past 5 years. On average, partners contribute to an average of 23% of the overall company revenues.
More specifically, when a brand partnership is truly effective, brands can achieve the following:
When two or more reputable brands partner with one another, that’s showing the consumer that the brand is worthy of their trust. If the consumer trusts the brand you are partnering with and has had a good experience with the company, they will expect to have a positive experience with your brand as well.
A well-integrated brand partnership and co-branding project adds intrinsic value to the product or service that each of the companies involved offers natively. When the two brands are working together, they bring a surplus and something unique to the customer.
When two different companies partner, also in fashion, there’s usually some noise surrounding the operation. Indeed, consumers coming from both brands’ channels may be excited about the product. This is why a brand partnership is a valuable opportunity either for public relations events or increased media exposure.
The perfect example of a good brand partnership is the 2016 Kenzo X H&M capsule collection. The French brand forged a bond with a new generation of potential consumers while H&M supported their brand positioning as a trendy fashion destination: a win-win.
Another great example of co-branding is the 2018 co-branding campaign between Redbull and GoPro called Stratos. For this occasion, athlete Felix Baumgartner jumped from a space pod 24 miles above Earth’s surface, setting also a world record and representing accurately the two brands’ values and images.
Another partnership worth mentioning is the one between Dunkin’ Donuts and Waze, launching the “Order Ahead” feature. Dunkin’ Donuts customers who commute every day can use Waze, the real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app, to save time both on the roads and at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants. In fact, the commuters can order directly through Waze, saving time in line.
One of the most famous co-branding campaigns is Yeezy, the partnership between Adidas and Kanye West.
The combination of Kanye’s personal brand and Adidas’ growing streetwear segment has made for robust company earnings and brand growth since it was introduced.
Kanye’s celebrity appeal benefits Adidas by creating buzz around its apparel collections. In turn, the athletic-wear brand gives Kanye a well-established platform to build his high-end clothing line. Arguably, the strongest feature of Yeezy is its exclusivity: Kanye’s fame, scarcity
On the other hand, Adidas currently operates its Yeezy Supply e-commerce site where sneakers are released, lending its operational know-how to get shoes to shoppers who rush for the latest styles.
According to Bloomberg, sales for Yeezy’s Adidas sneakers remained resilient through the pandemic, growing 31% to nearly $1.7 billion in annual revenue last year and netting Yeezy $191 million in royalties.
In order to get the most out of a brand partnership, it is crucial to track, review and optimise the campaigns. Without monitoring the efforts and assessing the outcomes, it’s harder to judge if the co-branding strategy has been beneficial or not.
With this in mind, setting actionable metrics and sharing them with the partner is of the utmost importance. Not only so to measure the success of the campaign, but also to work towards the same goals.
Some of the relevant KPIs are the following:
Remember, when analyzing the positive or negative results of the brand-to-brand campaign, one must compare each metric with previous campaigns and make adjustments accordingly.
When doing brand partnerships, companies can share the risks and benefits coming from more available financial resources. Co-branding opportunities may support the exclusive launch of a new product, splitting the expenses together with your partner.
At the same time, you’ll gain visibility and reach a new audience. When two brands come together to form a co-branding partnership, they are automatically given the opportunity to gain the interest of each other’s market. Last but not least, co-branding can help to legitimise your startup’s presence on the market. The customers who are already in love with one brand will automatically trust the newly introduced product.
Francesco Fiume is Head of Marketing Communications and Digital of Fashion Technology Accelerator.
He manages brand and digital marketing strategies for companies in the Acceleration Program. Francesco also offers his expertise in our Consulting Sessions and is the reference point for FTA’s own brand and corporate marketing activities.