Everyone loves to tell a good story, and a brand is no different. Following on from Adrian’s previous blog on content creation, brand partnerships are a perfect way to generate new content with a fresh perspective that can both excite and engage existing and new audiences.
With the current overcrowded advertising landscape, brand collaborations and partnerships are becoming increasingly important. Marketers need to find new and creative ways to get their brand in front of audiences who otherwise may not have engaged with them. A noticeable and smart trend is brands partnering together in a strategic alliance. Customers must like the idea of two brands they love and support in a co-branded product. This popularity by association will expand their audience into new market segments.
Successful brand partnerships are beneficial to both parties because they gain a higher audience reach due to the crossover of each other’s followers and, much like personal partnerships, work best when both brands have similar values, interests, goals and partner expectations.
This is different to the traditional model of celebrity endorsement and/or sponsorship in the sense that brands aren’t paying a person to advertise for them. If executed well, it creates a win-win for brands creating a best of both worlds relationship where each business benefits from the others reputation, image and customer base.
Celebrity endorsement won’t ever die – brands thrive off endorsement to stay ‘cool’ across all media channels. However, locally and internationally, alliances between brands over celebrities offer a refreshing perspective. Forward-thinking brands are forever growing, adapting and ensuring they are always relevant and in tune with their adapting audience. Brand collaborations can be the spice of life that keeps a brand from becoming bland and show that a brand is flexible, willing to adapt, explore, grow and stay current and relevant. Likewise, brand collaborations should be slowly changing, evolving and adapting over time.
Successful brand partnerships – H&M, Spotify and Allbirds
H&M are experts in brand collaboration and have successfully partnered with Balmain, Alexander Wang, Jimmy Choo, Versace (and a long list of others) making limited edition designer clothing more accessible to younger people who aspire to be able to afford designer clothing in the future. Tapping into an elitist human aspiration, both H&M and their partner brands are seen in a positive light by H&M consumers – H&M are allowing their consumer market to afford these designer brands while Balmain and Alexander Wang are gaining exposure to H&M’s market who are future prospective consumers of their designer clothing.
Another brand that takes partnerships to a whole other level is Spotify – the worldwide music streaming provider. Clever partnership decisions helped cement Spotify on their audience’s radars. How better to do so than with the original mecca of “coffee-meets-music” venues, Starbucks. Every employee received a premium subscription to the music service to curate playlists that Starbucks put out on the Spotify platform, and coffee lovers were able to earn Starbucks rewards points through the app. This partnership was relevant because of the announcement that the global coffee house was no longer selling CD’s, which was a big part of their brand story.
When Spotify then partnered with Uber to provide the ultimate driving experience the two disruptive brands positioned themselves firmly at the cutting edge of the market. Imagine being welcomed into your ride with your own playlist greeting you! This added a major advantage to Uber, with their customers being treated to an exclusive offering and the brand experience sticking in the hearts and heads of the early-adopters. The personal aspect of having ‘familiar surroundings’ was surely played on here, and gave Spotify the step up over its competitors Pandora, iTunes and YouTube.
We’ve been looking at other local ‘grassroots’ partnerships, closer to home and one in particular was Allbirds partnering with Wellington brands. Allbirds are a game changer in the footwear industry and while they’ve had plenty of NZ/international celebrity endorsements, it’s partnering with local companies that really solidifies their brand. Earlier this year they partnered with Wellington Chocolate Factory, Garage Project and Coffee Supreme – all hero brands in Wellington. Footwear inspired by these local brands was sold in pop-up shops in February 2017.
The geniuses behind your best bet to staying dry in the wild NZ winter, Blunt Umbrellas, partnered up with two significant brands, who also just happen to be well known individuals too – Karen Walker and Dick Frizzell. Karen Walker and her fashion house led the pack, and have continued to do so for the last two years – releasing limited edition umbrellas with designs from her latest collection in them.
The success of Karen Walker + Blunt was so great the umbrella gurus teamed up with another household name – NZ artist Dick Frizzell. The collaboration between Blunt + Frizzell was significant because not only was the umbrella getting a slick limited edition skin, it was also supporting Oxfam. The umbrella he designed sold out in 5 days and raised $40,000 for the charity.
Both Karen Walker and Dick Frizzell blur the line between brand and celebrity which begin to question the marketing strategy – are these celebrity endorsements or a brand partnerships? After some healthy debate we are on the side that these are brand partnerships – these individuals are their brand and their brand is bringing value to the table.
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Brands who are looking to expand their audiences or refresh their image would do well to try an approach like these strategic alliances. It takes careful planning and requires a wicked social media strategy if any of the above examples are anything to go by, which we covered in our last blog about content marketing.
You could be looking to make a move with an existing partnership you already have, perhaps a campaign idea you want to get off the ground – the collective win if it all pays off would be worth it.