Brand Storytelling

The Upsides (and Downsides) of Brand Partnerships: A Guide

Be it co-branded products, sponsorships, joint advertising campaigns, or event collaboration, brand partnerships help brands combine their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses to reach a common audience.

These brand partnerships can take many forms, including licensing agreements that may be short or long-term.

If you’re on the fence about beginning a brand partnership, or would just like to see the lay of the land, we’re going to go over the benefits (and challenges) of creating a brand partnership.

Brand Partnerships Create Cost-Effective Marketing

One of the strongest aspects of a brand partnership–especially during times when marketing budgets may be tight–is cost-effectiveness.  

Smaller initial investment. The entire point of a brand partnership is to split the costs (and share the benefits). It may not always be an equal share, depending on the size and audience of both parties, but in general, you’ll be spending less on marketing with a partnership than you would alone.

Potentially the same or greater return. Even with half the investment, you could be seeing the same return you normally do on similar solo campaigns. Of course, ideally, you’ll be benefiting from the other company’s extended reach, and getting more than your usual return for far less initial investment.

Ability to pool resources. With the “share and share alike” mentality of brand partnerships, you’ll both be able to bring your strengths, budgets, and other resources to the table to create something neither of you could manage alone. 

Co-Branding Opportunities Lead to Greater Reach

One of the next great benefits of a solid brand partnership is getting your product in front of an entirely new (or expanded) group of people.

Combining brands combines audiences. With a brand partnership, your campaign hits your customers and your partner’s customers, expanding your audience.

Potential access to more customer data. It’s not just the audience exposure that’s worthwhile in a partnership: it’s the ability to share data. Obviously, we want to follow the laws pertaining to consumer privacy here, but even access to demographic data can be a huge benefit for future campaigns.

More or expanded distribution channels. No company is the master of every channel. When sharing a campaign with another company, you get access to the social media, newsletter, and in-person channels of two entire brands.

Combining Teams Creates Fresh Ideas

We all fall into comfortable ruts of ideas: we’re only human. Our experiences and our skill sets are naturally limited. But when you take on a brand partnership, many new minds get to meet, creating something unique for both parties.

Expanding the team expands possibilities. Two marketing teams are better than one. With access to a larger talent pool, you are just naturally going to see fresh ideas. 

Increased diversity of thought. Diversity in all its forms improves any group of people. When you combine two groups from two companies full of unique individuals from different backgrounds, you expand what’s possible. New ideas come from new experiences, and a team with a higher diversity of thought (which is a natural side effect of any partnership) is going to come up with a wider array of creative work.

Access to expertise you may be lacking. Diversity of skill is another strong benefit of a brand partnership. Few marketing teams have every skillset imaginable, even at the largest companies. A shared marketing campaign between two companies gives them both a chance to meet and utilize team members who have skills their team is missing. 

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Brand Partnerships

Yes, we’ve made it to the “con” section of the blog. Like any endeavor, brand partnerships aren’t always a unicorn ride through the park. However, if you’re prepared for the potential challenges of a brand partnership, your campaign is going to go a lot more smoothly. 

The primary challenge of any brand partnership? Loss of control.

Sharing space with the other brand. The most obvious challenge of a brand partnership is that you’ll have to be okay sharing the spotlight (and the sales) with the other company and its products. Choosing a brand that doesn’t overlap with your capabilities and products is key here. 

Compromising on strategy and execution. Any long-time married person will tell you: compromise is the key to any relationship. You’re going to have to compromise on every aspect of the marketing strategy (and its execution) and learn to foster and entertain ideas you may not be fully comfortable with. The upside of course is that you may succeed in ways you’ve never expected.

Unintentionally mixed messaging. If both brands don’t have the same message they’re sending out to consumers, you could have a problem. If one of the brands is aimed at green initiatives and the other at a jet-setting industry, consumers may feel a bit of whiplash from your partnership.

Brand Partnerships Take Many Forms

Did you know that 71% of consumers have positive feelings about co-branding partnerships? Consumers are primed, and considering all the benefits that companies can reap, it’s a good idea to at least give it a shot. 

One of the best things about brand partnerships is that there are multiple options for who you can partner with. Brand-plus-brand partnerships are common, pretty much what you see in most licensing agreements and co-branded ventures.

But you can even brand with a competitor, which is usually used to advance a charitable cause. McDonald’s and Burger King, the rivals to the burger throne, famously collaborated to help fight cancer with their “Day without a Whopper” campaign

A third, extremely popular, method of brand partnership is when a brand partners with a non-profit organization to advance a cause. MUSH, makers of ready-to-eat healthy oats, partnered with the Enthuse Foundation with an “Invest in Women” shirt and apparel line, the proceeds of which went to help female entrepreneurs.

To learn more about brand partnerships, or to help create one of your own, reach out to Inspira Marketing today

This article has been published in the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Marketing Knowledge Center. Click here to visit their blog.

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