You have built your brand by the sweat of your brow only to find that your success has stagnated. Where do you go from here? One possibility, and one that major brands have been doing for years and continue to do to this day, is to co-brand. The best way to think about co-branding is to consider it a branding partnership. Your brand and all its fans, followers and customers teams up with another equally successful brand and the two of you share success into the sunset. That’s how it’s supposed to go. Whether or not a co-branding is successful depends on the parties involved. Let’s take a look at co-branding and how you can use it to propel yourself to your ideal version of success and beyond.
What is Co-Branding?
Understanding co-branding may be easier if you actually read the technical definition of the term. Basically, co-branding represents a partnership between two or more brands that offer goods or services to the public. A sponsorship is one version of co-branding, but most co-brands go way beyond the typical sponsorship deal.
To help further the understanding of co-branding, let’s look at a few examples of this marketing technique in action.
Examples of Co-Branding
Have you ever stepped into a TGIFriday’s restaurant only to find Jack Daniel’s cooked and flavored items on the menu? That is a great example of co-branding. TGIFriday’s is already a successful restaurant and Jack Daniel’s is already a successful creator of premium whiskey. Separately, they each have their own fans and loyal customers, but together they have managed to increase the popularity and success of both brands.
Another good example of co-branding is the relationship between Eddie Bauer, which offers sports and outdoor gear and clothing, and Ford, which is of course an auto maker. Together, they created the Eddie Bauer edition of the Ford Explorer that is supposed to be more rugged and that is offered at a higher premium than typical Explorers. The partnership was and continues to be a resounding success, but there are others that you may have heard of also.
Think Nike and iPod sport or Budweiser and Harley Davidson; these are just two more successful co-brands and there are countless others. Now that you have a better understanding of co-branding and how it works, you might want to consider partnering your own brand with another successful brand that is potentially far different than yours. The first aspect is to approach another brand to get the partnership started.
Approaching Other Brands
Before you begin to approach other brands for the purpose of co-branding, you should have a specific plan in mind. For example, if you’re Budweiser and you’re about to approach the execs at Harley Davidson to propose a co-branding partnership, you might say something to the effect of, “Listen, your Harley Davidson customers drink beer and we offer beer. Let’s team up so that we can create co-branded commercials and hold contests that feature both brands’ products.” You might also want to come up with some figures of what commercials will cost, what the contests will entail and so on. The more information you provide to potential brand partners, the more successful the proposition will be.
Developing a Plan
Once you have secured at least one co-brand partner, you will want to come together to solidify a plan and define all expectations. As partners, you will share editorial control of all content and you will also share in the responsibilities of getting that content made. The following will give you some examples of co-branding content and how it can be used to further the success of both brands equally.
Social Media Co-Branding
So far we have used physical commercials and contests to help with the understanding of co-branding, but the following step will show how to take all branding partnerships into the virtual world; starting with social media. The brands involved have a couple of options here. They can either add the respective brands and all associated logos to their current social media profiles or they can create a new co-branding social media presence to avoid confusion.
For example, if you already have a Twitter profile that includes your colors and logo, you might choose to merely add the other co-brand partners’ logos to your Twitter profile to let all your Twitter followers know that you have teamed up with those brands. Or you can create a completely new Twitter profile that includes a combination of colors, a combination of logos; or even perhaps a new logo that is a mesh between the two or more brands involved.
Other Ideas for Co-Branding
Social media is just one example of how you can use co-branding. You can also create a new website, start an email marketing campaign or use any other online marketing technique to further all the brands’ images with the target groups. This will expand the online media presences of all parties involved, thus leading to increased success across the board.
This should be included in the plan that the brands come up with, along with financial details and a timeline so that there is no confusion once the co-branding partnership gets off the ground. Just like any other partnership, a co-branding can turn sour if expectations are too high and one party feels as though the other party isn’t pulling his or her weight. Alleviate all confusion and explain every detail in the plan before the co-branding partnership officially commences. You will alleviate headaches and potential financial pitfalls by doing so.
Get Creative With Co-Branding Possibilities
There is yet another co-branding relationship that hasn’t been discussed. That is the relationship where one partner provides the sales page, shopping cart or some other type of product or service and another brand advertises that product or service as its own. As far as customers are concerned, the latter brand is the primary brand and the former brand that actually provides the product or service remains more or less invisible. The invisible brand will provide the services, such as shopping cart functionality and support, only the secondary brand will be the customers’ first point-of-contact. This relationship is otherwise known as a joint-venture, but it represents yet another possibility that understanding co-branding can bring about.
Get creative and come up with new ways that co-brands can come together and flourish. Study the above examples and any others that you can find and find out what makes a successful co-branding partnership tick. Use that knowledge to further the success of both brands and you just might enter the annals of co-branding history.
Team Up, Work Hard and Hope for the Best
Will the co-branding partnership take off? That is completely up to the parties involved. It depends on the current success of the brands, the completeness of the plan, the defining of expectations and, well, there’s a whole lot of chance involved, too. Hopefully your co-branding efforts go well; but if they don’t, brush yourself off and try it all over again. There is a co-brand out there that will help you achieve success. Your job is to seek that brand out, come up with an enticing proposal and present your proposition with everything you have in the hopes that the other brand will see dollar sign visions that pay off for all parties involved.
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