Let me tell you now: any form of collaboration takes strategy. Successful collaborations can change the way an individual or business is viewed, and they aren’t just reserved for musicians and artists anymore. When we talk about brand collaborations, we’re essentially talking about co-branding. Co-branding is a marketing strategy that involves two brands partnering together on a product or service. These days, consumers digest content so quickly that it can be hard for brands to keep up. Irrelevant, unexciting, “same old, same old” content leads to bored consumers. And bored consumers will drop your brand faster than my six month old puppy running away with a sock.
For a brand, one of the biggest challenges they face is differentiating themselves from their competition. The market is vast and competitive; to gain traction with consumers, brands must stand out. This is where the brilliance of co-branding shines. It’s an opportunity to take the strengths of two brands and create a unique, unparalleled product or service. Co-branding is a form of strategic marketing with different types and levels of intent. Brands like GoPro, Spotify and Away are great examples of brands that are using collaborations to up their marketing strategy.
Finding a common thread
For co-branding to be successful, two brands must share values and complement each other. Let’s talk about GoPro and Red Bull. While GoPro sells action cameras exclusive for sports, Red Bull sells energy drinks—two very different things; yet, they share some commonalities. Now, what exactly do these two popular brands have in common? Well, three words come to mind: adrenaline, excitement and adventure. They have both established themselves as on-the-go brands synonymous with action-packed lifestyles.
Though they operate in different sections of the market, GoPro and Red Bull have teamed up for a global partnership to cross-promote their products—they are using their differences to their advantages. As Red Bull continues to produce extreme-sports content (in-line with its energy drink which “gives you wings”), GoPro will be there to capture unbelievably epic moments.
Speaking of the partnership, Nicholas Woodman, founder and CEO of GoPro, has said, “We share the same vision…to inspire the world to live a bigger life. While we’ve worked closely for many years, as official partners, we’ll be able to more effectively help one another execute our shared vision and scale our respective businesses.” This strategy doubles their brand exposure and allows them to benefit from each other’s market.
Capitalizing on opportunity
When strategized effectively, brand collaborations can produce amazing ways to build business and boost brand awareness. Take Spotify, for example, which teamed up with Uber to mutually enhance each other’s brand experiences. The concept is appealing: let Uber customers customize their ride by allowing them to control music using Spotify. Thus, if you’re an avid Uber user who never thought about Spotify before, you might change your mind now—and vice versa.
Just looking at some statistics will show us how these two big brands can help each other garner more users through co-branding. Uber’s transportation services is available in 84 countries and over 789 cities worldwide. In 2016, Uber’s former CEO said that the company has 40 million monthly active riders. In comparison, Spotify is available in 65 markets globally and has 71 million subscribers and 157 million actives users, according to data from 2017. That’s a lot of international coverage from both brands, which means that there is also a huge opportunity to benefit from each other’s user base.
Adding value to each other’s brand
Strategic partnerships in co-branding can be particularly beneficial when involving two non-competing brands. Away, an up-and-coming luggage manufacturer, is a smart example of a brand that has taken to using collaborations to build business. Away targets “the modern traveler” and offers premium luggage sets for affordable prices. The company has collaborated with the likes of actress Rashida Jones, the Despicable Me franchise and West Elm. With each of these collaborations, we see Away’s strategy of trying to surprise customers while also being appealing to new ones.
The collaboration with Rashida Jones, a famed actress and philanthropist, opened Away up to celebrity status. Being endorsed by someone notable gave the company a sense of reputation and led to many other celebrities buying into the brand, which has promoted Away even further. For Rashida, her benefit from the partnership came in the form of publicity (amongst other things). She was able to design pieces from the brand’s collection and execute philanthropic efforts, as a portion of the proceeds were donated to the International Rescue Committee which helps refugees.
Away’s partnership with the Despicable Me franchise was the perfect step for its launch of a kids’ carry-on suitcase. The company wanted to extend its brand and market it as a product for the whole family. What better way to do that than to release a suitcase just for kids, showcasing the beloved minion character from the Despicable Me movies. This collaboration coincided with Despicable Me 3’s release and boosted awareness for both brands—how convenient!
With its West Elm collaboration, Away’s intent was clear. West Elm is a well-established, modern furniture store that has a strong following. Not only does it characterize sophistication and contemporary living, but it is also a lifestyle brand filled with desirable aesthetics. This collaboration allows Away to tap into West Elm’s customer base and expand its own. By aligning itself with West Elm’s brand, Away is essentially saying that it too is sophisticated, contemporary and a part of the modern lifestyle. In return, West Elm gets to ride Away’s coattail of being fun and new—keeping its own brand refreshed and relevant.
When done correctly, co-branding can help brands to amplify their business, increase awareness and even enter new markets. Finding a common thread, capitalizing on opportunity and adding value to each other’s brand are all things to consider when strategizing about brand collaborations. As you can see, these collaborations are powerful tools that can help brands to showcase themselves and achieve their business goals. At Mellonaid, we love to read about new collaborative brands and the trends that they set, as it helps us to keep our own minds sharp in strategy and marketing. Co-branding can be very successful, so it never hurts to stay well-informed about marketing’s best kept secret.