Brand Collaboration & leveraging
Brand collaboration is a strategic alliance between non-competing brands for mutual benefit. Done correctly, it can help combine the strengths of participating brands to generate greater awareness for all at less expense and many other benefits. The goal is higher profits for all.
Often, brand collaboration is called brand leveraging. According to an article written by Nancy Giddens for Iowa State University, “Brand leveraging is a strategy that uses the power of an existing brand name to support a company’s entry into a new but related product category.”
Each makes a unique contribution
Brand collaborations do not require all the participants to be the same size. Each brand may bring something to the table that would benefit all. For instance, a brand alliance between a well-known company and a less-known company offers an obvious benefit to the minor participant. But in turn, the smaller could contribute a service typically affiliated but not supplied by the more prominent brand, which enhances the larger brands customer experience.
What do you call your new collaboration?
Brand affiliations often start out with new name and logo. This is not a bad approach. However, timing and cost must be considered. A new brand can take quite awhile to reach enough of the targeted audience to gain awareness, recognition and recall. This can often take between 3 months to several years, depending on the aggressiveness of your marketing (and the size of your wallet).
Oftentimes, one of the participating brands has significant name-recognition advantage in the market place. Another strategy to consider is to capitalize on the brand equity of the well-known brand partner. While it may create concern among the smaller participants to market the collaboration under the umbrella of a well known brand, financially, this could prove far faster and more beneficial to all compared to introducing something from scratch. To smooth the concerns, clearly explaining within all marketing collateral that this is an affiliation of independent brands, not an acquisition by the larger brand. This sets the stage for the less-known brand to protect their independent brand equity.
Examples of good brand collaborations
One example of a good collaboration would be a real estate brand collaborating with a trusted title or escrow firm. Since these business services are typically involved within most real estate transactions, it would create a more convenient and trusted one-stop for your buyers. Other natural brand collaborations could be the teaming of CPA and a wealth management firm. Or a graphics firm could team up with a printer, and so on.
Primary benefits of brand collaboration
- Each brand shares its core and previous customers. Affiliation combines the audience volume and improves exposure for all.
- A reduced cost or improved ROI on marketing budgets. Collaboration is particularly effective for Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA)
- Sharing of good brand characteristics increases customers’ confidence. All brands contribute to the opportunities for gaining new customers from each other. In other words, affiliation with a trusted brand improves customer confidence in others, and buyers are more receptive to try a new brand if it appears one they know seems to trust them.
- Brand collaboration can improve the buyer experience. It could improve the quality of customer experience through enhanced communication and knowledge sharing between the brands. Alignment creates more direct and transparent communication, often to the benefit of the customer.
- Brand leveraging is helpful in rebranding efforts. Let’s say one company has been in business for a long time and is rather conservative. It has trouble reaching or attracting younger customers. Affiliation with a younger firm can suggest that the older company is more progressive than previously, enabling the older firm to increase market share.
- A strong collaboration can cause concern among your competitors. Brand affiliation can be alarming to competitors. These concerns can often trigger them to take steps to try to keep up, which are often knee-jerking tactics that don’t end well for them.
Building a collaborative brand marketing campaign
Announcing and supporting a new affiliation between brands should not be taken for granted. While the visual elements such as your logos side by side can create buzz, your campaign should also explain the purpose of the affiliation. Mainly, what is the benefit to the consumer? That’s what the customers want to see. Spell it out for them in your marketing communications.
Planning for brand collaboration
Good brand collaboration begins with each brand participant clearly defining their goals and key objectives, and then listing how an affiliation will help their individual organization succeed. It is also important to be realistic about potential pit-falls.
Here are some factors which you’ll want to address before jumping in:
- Will this affiliation dominate your existing brand?
- Will you be able to withdraw if things don’t work out? What is your exit strategy?
- Do your brands align with each other? Are you certain your values mesh?
- Are you genuinely non-competing, or are there areas (products/services) that may overlap and create friction?
When considering a brand collaboration, it may be a good idea to bring in consultants who may be able to uncover the opportunities and the pitfalls of affiliating your brand with another. Good examples would be an experienced marketing consultant such as Red Crow Marketing, your CPA, or your attorney,
At Red Crow Marketing, Inc., we’ve worked with a wide range of companies and their branding. Contact us today at 417 861-5290 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.