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What is energizing the power of brand collaboration?

Over the past two years, there was a growing trend of unlikely brand partnerships. These brand collaborations were being used to shift or elevate a brand’s perception, to prove that the brand was still relevant with a specific audience, or by opening the brand up to a new market.

Whether it was Verizon and The Met curating unique galleries and immersive art challenges, BMW and Louis Vuitton partnering to express the art of travel, or B2B brands from opposite industries such as Amex and Amazon, these brands have identified ways to increase the number of users for each of their services. This approach poses the question of what is energizing the power of brand collaboration?

In the third James Bond film, 1964’s  Goldfinger, a new car for agent 007 was introduced—the Aston Martin DB5. This would launch the beginning of a collaboration between the Bond franchise and Aston Martin that has spanned almost 50 years and seven films.

Source: Aston Martin

Upon the release of Goldfinger, sales of the DB5 increased and the company’s awareness in the luxury segment grew. The 2015 Bond film, Spectre, featured the Aston Martin DB10, a model developed specifically for the film, and the upcoming No Time to Die will pay tribute to two supercars from Aston Martin’s past: the DB5 and the V8 Saloon. The film will also feature the 2021 Aston Martin Superlegga, as well as a concept car that has yet to grace the streets: the Aston Martin Valhalla!

While few brand collaborations have the longevity or have achieved the success of such a partnership, many are finding a way to breathe new life into their brands while taking advantage of the benefits of their counterpart’s audience relevance and brand recognition within the category.

Rejuvenating a Brand’s Relevance

To celebrate 70 years of baseball cards, Topps has collaborated with more than 50 of the world’s most influential artists across pop culture, fashion, music and the arts.

Project 70 includes the bespoke sneaker designer, The Shoe Surgeon, the streetwear retailer, Undefeated, and the graffiti artist, Futura, whereby each artist is reinterpreting the baseball card’s designs by selecting their own MLB players and Topps cards to craft a unique story.

Each artist will promote their card redesign on their social media channel, resulting in broadened awareness for the Topps brand with a newfound audience and an increase in relevance.

“Many are finding a way to breathe new life into their brands while taking advantage of the benefits of their counterpart’s audience relevance and brand recognition within the category.”

Creating a Mutually Beneficial Competitive Advantage

Despite being from completely different industries, Uber and Spotify collaborated to create “Soundtrack Your Ride,” which allows the listener to create a custom playlist of any length, based on the time and distance of their ride. By creating a more personalized experience for riders, this also creates a subtle, yet competitive advantage over Lyft.

By complimenting the customer experience of each brand, this partnership enabled both brands to increase their reach and brand recognition, while capturing greater customer insights and data.

Centering a Partnership Around Passions

With a business goal of driving traffic, media and news content aggregate Flipboard partnered with Airbnb to drive users to Flipboard’s “Heart” stories, featuring Airbnb experiences.

Flipboard also indicated, “As with any good partnership, we set out to create a win-win program, Airbnb was looking to reach a qualified audience and create awareness around experiences. At Flipboard, we were looking to create meaningful engagement for current readers, while giving people who had not used the app in a while an incentive to check out the service again.”

The results of this co-partnership generated 4.2 million page flips from 440,000 viewers who “Hearted” Airbnb experiences more than 69,000 times. Followers of the Airbnb profile on Flipboard went from zero to 29,000, and also drove a 9% CTR, or some 38,000 visits to Airbnb.com

“Both brands must align not only with their audiences and content, but with the brands’ purpose and passion, based on a strategy that unifies and endorses the collaboration.”

Checking the Collaboration Boxes

Based on the examples above, it’s clear that you can’t just mash up two brands and expect it to work. This post suggests four areas to focus on in order to avoid the risk of failing and to increase the probability of a brand collaboration’s success:

Misaligned values: when the two brands start out as seemingly compatible, but over time move apart in consumers’ minds, or, worse, begin to conflict

Poorly defined agreements: when the two partners have not agreed on every aspect of the partnership and its deliverables in enough detail, and are left disappointed

Lack of trust: when there is a lack of personal commitment to the deal and the potentially valuable partnership turns sour because of suspicion about hidden agendas

Poor execution: when the thinking behind the partnership is on point for both parties, but the actual implementation is misguided and damaging

A key takeaway here is that both brands must align not only with their audiences and content, but with the brands’ purpose and passion, based on a strategy that unifies and endorses the collaboration.

Questions? Email me here to discuss how your investment or brand can leverage the right partner to expand their brand’s awareness or relevance.