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Collaboration is a ubiquitous word in the modern business environment. We no longer work with our colleagues; we collaborate with them. We partner internally to save time, reduce costs or to extend our reach and call this collaboration too. What of collaborating with other brands or even—whisper it quietly—our competitors?

See also: Two brands are better than one – when there’s a fair exchange of assets: Collabosaurus CEO

The world has changed

The world has changed and traditional marketing is starting to become ‘paleomarketing’. Once upon a time a marketer would use traditional in-your-face advertising and ad nauseam self-promotional messages to win business. This is no longer the case as consumers now have so much choice and have either been put off by the advertising excesses of the 80s and 90s or have grown up in an on-demand world and adverts are an alien concept to them.

Get too in-your-face with consumers these days and they’ll be off. They’ve worked out that they don’t need to put up with unimaginative adverts and self-promotion. Good marketers caught up with this fact a while back and started to shift towards a more content based strategy. How to take it to the next level though?

Brand collaboration

When used correctly and appropriately, strategic brand collaborations, or partnerships, can be an extraordinarily effective way to build your business. These partnerships allow brands to enter new markets more confidently and increase brand awareness in a more efficient way. They are also a way for brands to amplify their appeal by becoming part of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

The benefits of collaborating for brands

Brands like AirBnB, Coca-Cola, Google and Apple have shown us countless times that collaborating can provide some serious exposure and generate a lot of buzz. Successful collaborations include AirBnB and KLM airline, Waterstones bookshop and even the French government; Apple and Nike; Google and KitKat (they even named an operating system after the chocolate bar); and Coca-Cola and what seems like every other brand on the planet.

Collaboration can add value if the strategic and creative thinking is aligned. Both brands can benefit from increased growth, reduced costs and a greater reach. The simple trick to success is for brands to align themselves with the most compatible partners. This increases value to the customer and enhances the brand experience.

If brands are non-competing then there is great potential for rapid audience expansion as brands can introduce their customers to their partners. And there’s always potential to reach out to a new audience and get them to pay attention to a brand they might otherwise have never considered.

Setting expectations

There are risks in aligning your brand with another. There is no guarantee for success and the strategy can easily fail if there is not equal value for or effort made by the brands in the relationship. It’s also important to ensure your combined audience will understand the collaboration.  

Negative feedback and attention will be shared whilst positive attention can seem a touch diluted when shared. However, don’t let that put you off. Collaboration is not something to be scared of or avoided. It has great potential; it just requires some careful consideration.

If you set expectations early on not only are you clear about what is expected from each party but you’ll get results more quickly. Work out what each brand brings to the table and respect the expertise each has. By accepting which brand does what better you’ll both be more empowered to achieve. Keep a regular schedule of communication to keep everyone on track and on message. Most importantly; have fun!

Brand collaboration can positively surprise your customers and attract new ones. Whether you are updating your brand image, entering a new market or launching a new product, brand collaboration can help you to amplify what you are doing and advertise your business in a new way to the modern consumer.

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Maria Bellissimo-Magrin

Maria Bellissimo-Magrin

Maria Bellissimo-Magrin is the CEO of full-service creative marketing agency Belgrin.

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