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- A brand partnership can be a powerful tool for increasing sales, boosting brand recognition, and growing credibility.
- When searching for potential partners, consider complementary brands that have an aligned audience, values, and services.
- A successful brand partnership requires clear expectations from both sides and mutual goals.
- Both sides of a partnership must agree on and assess progress monitoring metrics to maintain sustained success.
The phrase, “two is better than one,” may be a cliché, but all clichés start from some sort of truth. Although the marketing world is one of competition, the right brands partnering together and combining their strengths can make both sides come out stronger.
Brand partnerships offer a mutually beneficial way for two brands to collaborate and share their resources. A thoughtful and carefully crafted partnership can allow both brands access to wider audiences and increased sales.
Still, it takes a cohesive and comprehensive strategy to realize the full potential of a collaboration. To maximize the impact of your brand partnerships, you’ll need to follow a few best practices, from finding the right partners to establishing meaningful goals.
What is a brand partnership?
A brand partnership is when two or more businesses have a mutually beneficial agreement to collaborate on a project or campaign. This arrangement is typically set up between two non-competing brands and gives both a chance to share their resources to boost each other’s sales and increase brand recognition.
There are three main types of brand partnerships:
- Co-branding – In a co-branding relationship, two brands work together to create a new product, service, or campaign. This arrangement allows both brands to combine their strengths to reach a larger audience of customers. An example of co-branding is the co-branded Doritos Locos Taco from Taco Bell.
- Influencer collaborations – Becoming increasingly popular, influencer collaborations involve a brand partnering with a celebrity or influencer to gain access to their audience. Influencers will discuss and promote a product or service to provide greater reach. Michael Jordan’s partnership with Nike is an excellent example.
- Cross-promotions – This type of partnership allows brands to promote each other’s products or services, allowing them to reach more customers with mutually beneficial relationships. An example of cross-promotion is grocery stores that offer points to use at partnering gas stations.
Each of the above partnerships offers its own advantages, so the type of brand partnership you choose depends on your goals.
For example, if you are looking for more brand recognition, you may benefit from cross-promotion or influencer collaborations. On the other hand, co-branding allows potential customers to have the chance to immerse themselves in your product and helps you build brand trust through association with another trusted brand.
What are the benefits of brand partnerships?
Brand partnerships are more than just an opportunity for a fun collaboration—they are an excellent strategy for brands looking to embrace wider audiences and build a larger loyal following. Some of the benefits of brand partnerships include:
- Extended brand reach – Each brand has its own audience. By working together, both sides get more exposure to the other’s audience.
- Enhanced credibility – When brands partner with larger, more trusted brands, they gain more credibility from consumers.
- Increased engagement and customer loyalty – Brand partnerships often bring about new products or offerings, which can get customers excited about and engaged with your brand.
- Cost-effective marketing – Marketing is costly, but working with another brand allows you to save costs by automatically gaining access to their audience and expanding your reach.
Altogether, brand partnership is an excellent way to pool the strengths and resources of two brands to get people talking and generate more interest in both sides.
How to develop a brand partnership strategy
Any good partnership starts with a solid strategy so that you can maximize its potential. To develop a fruitful brand partnership strategy, there are a few best practices you can take.
1. Identify complementary brands
You wouldn’t see brands collaborate if their services were entirely unrelated—otherwise, it would just be confusing for everyone. Therefore, the whole process starts with finding a brand that aligns with yours in the right ways.
To identify complementary brands, you should look for the following features:
- Shared target audience and demographics – The audiences of the two brands should align in interests or needs in order to ensure the partnership remains mutually beneficial and both brands can benefit from each other’s audience.
- Common brand values and mission – Aligning values ensures that both brands’ messaging will resonate with each other’s audiences and increase the chances of a successful partnership.
- Aligning product or service offering – A partnership should provide value to consumers, so choose a brand with a product or service that aligns with what you offer and complements it in some way.
Although you want a brand to complement yours, you can still consider brand partnerships outside your niche. In fact, partnering with brands in different industries may actually be a good idea if their product or service can complement yours in some way.
For example, Nike and Apple are in completely different niches, but there are ways you can use technology to improve your experience with fitness. Keep an open mind and potentially get creative with your partnership ideas.
2. Research potential partners
After you determine some brands that complement what you do, start to hone in a bit more and begin researching your potential options. As you think about which brands would be a good fit for your partnership, you should:
- Examine case studies of successful partnerships – Look to case studies to determine what partnerships typically work and explore the dynamics between them so that you can decide which brands may offer you a similar arrangement.
- Analyze competitors’ partnerships – Analyzing your competitors can help you consider how to develop stronger initiatives. Find out what was successful about their partnerships and how well your competitor aligned with other brands to see how you may be able to find a solid partner.
- Assess reach and engagement metrics – Assess how well any potential partner is able to reach their audience. Engagement metrics will tell you who may be the most valuable partner as you look to expand your audience.
Putting careful thought into your potential partners will allow you to create an initiative that resonates with your target audience and maximizes your reach.
3. Set clear objectives and expectations
Any successful relationship starts with clear communication and mutual understanding—the same goes for brand partnerships. You can ensure both sides are on the same page by taking a few key steps.
Define mutual goals
The first step in fostering a successful partnership is ensuring that both sides have aligned goals. Establishing mutual goals will highlight what a successful partnership should achieve and ensure that the experience will be beneficial for both sides.
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs)
Any new strategy or campaign requires key performance indicators to measure success, and the same goes for brand partnerships. Setting these KPIs from the start will allow you to determine what success will look like for each side.
Some KPIs that you can use to determine the success of your partnership include customer engagement, customer satisfaction, and Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).
The KPIs you and your partner choose depend entirely on the dynamic of your agreement and what makes the most sense depending on the goals of your partnership.
Draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU)
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a written agreement between both sides that lays out the ground rules for the partnership. A formal, established MOU outlines each brand's roles, responsibilities, and expectations throughout the agreement.
A detailed MOU is simply business and will play a significant role in ensuring a successful partnership.
Successful brand partnership examples
The marketing world is full of successful partnerships. Brands often collaborate to combine their strengths, from collaborating on products to hosting events together. The brand partnership examples here highlight the power of collaboration and combining strengths to drive successful outcomes for both sides of the partnership.
Nike & Apple
Nike and Apple worked together to create the Nike Training Club app, which seamlessly brought together Nike’s fitness expertise and Apple’s strength in technology. The app included personalized workout routines, music integration, health tracking, and more, making it a valuable tool for fitness enthusiasts.
Each with strong and loyal customer bases, these two powerhouse brands were able to connect each other to millions of potential customers through this useful service. Apple customers were introduced to the option of using this convenient fitness-focused technology, which established a pathway for these consumers to become interested in using Nike’s products and apparel.
Meanwhile, customers who were already enthusiastic about Nike were directed toward Apple if they wanted the benefits of the app—this situation created a win-win for both sides. Thanks to the app, both brands were able to enjoy enhanced customer engagement and satisfaction.
GoPro & Red Bull
Extreme brands GoPro and Red Bull came together by collaborating to organize and sponsor extreme sports events. Red Bull brought its expertise in sponsoring extreme sports events, and GoPro provided the cameras to grab the intense action footage in real time.
This partnership made sense, given the strong overlap in their audiences, as Red Bull and GoPro both have their share of thrillseekers who enjoy their products. Red Bull hosted the events, like the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series and the Red Bull Rampage, while GoPro captured the content to be shared on social media.
By working together, both brands were able to combine their strengths to tap into each other’s adventure-driven audiences. As a result, they each strengthened their reputations as key players in the world of extreme sports.
Spotify & Uber
Spotify and Uber successfully partnered up on the “Soundtrack for Your Ride” campaign. Through this campaign, Uber passengers were given a chance to control the music during their trips, thanks to a simple integration through the app.
Thanks to this collaboration, Uber’s customers were able to enjoy the benefits of Spotify’s services while also receiving a more enjoyable, music-filled car ride. At the end of it all, customers were able to appreciate the convenience of Spotify and a positive Uber ride all in one, enhancing the user experience and strengthening customer loyalty for both brands.
How to execute a brand partnership
Executing a brand partnership is where all the real fun begins—you’ll implement the partnership campaign and begin monitoring the fruits of your labor. To execute a successful brand partnership, you must follow a few best practices.
Negotiate terms and agreements
Before you act on your partnership, you must have a mutual agreement on who does what and how it will work. Each business may contribute different resources, like finances, marketing efforts, or product development. Both sides must understand and agree on their level of contribution to the arrangement.
In the early stages of launching the partnership, you should also discuss an agreement that legally protects both sides. Before executing the campaign, be sure to have a comprehensive legal agreement that protects any intellectual property rights and covers the risks of any potential conflicts.
Handling the negotiations and legal agreements from the start will set the foundation for a healthy, cooperative dynamic and allow both sides to then focus their full attention on the success of the initiative.
Launch the partnership campaign
After both sides understand their role in the partnership, the next step is to ensure that both sides coordinate properly on their branding and marketing efforts. Both brands must be on the same page to ensure consumers hear a unified message and receive a consistent experience.
Both sides should have coordinated efforts and messaging across all their channels, including social media, email marketing, and in-person events. Having both sides committed to marketing will really hammer home the customer outreach and maximize the reach for both sides.
To maximize the impact of your partnerships, you should utilize multiple channels to reach customers. You can use numerous social media platforms to your advantage as well as channels like email marketing and communications across apps and in-person shopping experiences.
Monitor and measure success
Like any campaign, progress monitoring in a brand partnership is crucial. Monitoring the progress of your campaign is a valuable step in assessing the effectiveness of the partnership, understanding its reach, and making informed, data-driven decisions to guide the initiative's success.
Monitor your success by analyzing key metrics and KPIs like:
- Customer engagement
- Click-through rates of ads
- Return on investment
- Conversion rates of online ads
- Customer satisfaction
Keeping an eye on the above metrics allows you to identify any challenges and make necessary improvements. If you notice less than desired success, you will have the chance to pivot and adapt your strategy to meet those desired outcomes.
Many initiatives evolve after the initial launch, as things can often play out differently in practice than on paper. Still, it’s the ability to monitor progress and adapt that can help drive home the success of your partnership.
Generate and improve the impact of your brand partnerships
Brand partnerships are an impactful tool when carried out strategically, allowing brands to lift each other up, gain access to wider audiences, and boost sales. To maximize the impact of your brand partnerships, it’s important that you find a complementary partner with an aligned audience and then work together to define mutual goals.
PETERMAYER supports brands in building marketing strategies that will engage their audiences and expand their reputation. With our expertise, we can help guide you in an approach to foster a strong brand partnership strategy too.
Contact us at PETERMAYER to schedule a discovery call so that you can get started in developing meaningful campaigns that captivate your audience.