puzzle pieces held by co-branding partners

How to Boost your Sales Using Co-Branding Partnerships

In 2012, RedBull in partnership with GoPro organized a global co-branding event that not only set 3 World Records, but also caused a double-digit sales percentage rise in many of their markets. How did they achieve this? Not all brands can (or want to) pull off extreme stunts, but every brand can find an innovative way to grow their sales through a co-branding partnership.

In 2012, RedBull in partnership with GoPro organized a global co-branding event that not only set 3 World Records, but also caused a double-digit sales percentage rise in many of their markets.

How did they achieve this?

They applied their brand offering; adventure chasing and strength in daring moments, to a relative brand offering (from GoPro); enabling users to capture once-in-a-lifetime moments. The result was Felix Baumgartner’s jump from a space pod 24 miles above Earth’s surface with a GoPro camera strapped to his body. The impact of that campaign is still evident in both brands’ perception today. This is the power of co-branding partnerships.

Not all brands can (or want to) pull off extreme stunts, but every brand can find an innovative way to grow their sales through a co-branding partnership.

What is a co-branding partnership?

This type of partnership is a joint marketing effort by two similar, but non-competing brands. The similarity is not in their products and services, but in their target audience and end users. Co-branding has gained popularity over the past decade, debunking the assumption that brands constantly have to position themselves above and as a sole body to avoid conflicts in the market.

Co-branding partnerships don’t always happen in similar industries, and many seem almost unreasonable until they are put in motion (Star Wars and CoverGirl Makeup, for example).

Here are some of the reasons why brands may choose to go into co-branding partnerships:

How Co-Branding Partnerships Help You Make More Sales

1. Bigger marketing budget

Effective marketing is currently more competitive and expensive than it has ever been. With co-branding, businesses can split costs evenly, making it easier for both parties to fulfill their commitments. With the joint effort, they can also go above their usual marketing budget, increasing the impact of the campaign.

Sometimes, resources invested may not be financial. One brand may have a team of experts in one field, e.g video production, while the other may have the expertise to set up an e-commerce platform for smooth processing of all sales from the partnership.

2. Wider reach

Even with similar markets, a co-branding partnership will open each brand to new audiences. Co-branding campaigns can help each brand generate revenue from exposure by selling their products and services in one package. In the Uber and Spotify partnership, both service-based businesses expected to see a spike in their patronage. As a rider, the offer was to connect your music with your Uber ride even before entering the car. It also enabled continued play from wherever the music stopped on your device.

According to their first report in 2016, Uber got more clients who enjoyed a seamless integration of their music into car rides, and Spotify got over 60 million streams (and more royalties for their clients).

3. Stronger brand recognition and perception

One great thing about these partnerships is that they highlight specific aspects of a business that often go unnoticed. Being able to merge two separate offerings from two different brands shines a spotlight on what you really bring to the table. The buzz from such a campaign will increase brand recognition, and often influence the general perception of the brand.

A good question at this point will be, “If the benefits are so good, why isn’t every business looking for a co-branding partner?”. The simple reason is, just like every other marketing effort, a successful co-branding strategy will require research, creativity, and resources to execute. Both brands must also align seamlessly in what they offer, and what they stand to benefit.

Here are a few pointers, along with examples, to give you better insight into how your brand can benefit from a co-branding partnership.

How to Boost your Sales Using Co-Branding Partnerships

1.   Consider both target markets

The intended audience/market is what solidifies a branding partnership. There must be an overlap where you can prove (with data), that both your products and services can satisfy customers at the same time. Your buyer personas don’t have to be identical, but they must share several similar needs.

For example, Mastercard was the first credit card company to let users store their card details on Apple Pay. This collaboration was born from a need: users didn’t want to carry their cards around and manually enter the details with every purchase. Both brands sell different services but were able to provide a joint solution to users’ needs.

2. Compare brand guidelines and values

When integrating your branding with another company’s, several compromises will have to be made. These changes might affect the public’s perception of your brand. It is important that you work with a brand that operates under similar values to yours.

Increased sales are not worth the integrity of your brand in the long run. The Shell and Lego partnership is a good example of this. LEGO had a successful run, creating toys with the Shell brand boldly displayed. However, environmental groups and parents quickly started showing outrage at the fact that they were selling toys that were affiliated with a brand (Shell) that had a questionable environmental practice history. The partnership came to a quick end once the outcry started growing.

3. Compare their current market reach

There’s no benefit in a partnership that can’t offer you measurable value. It is expected that one brand will be bigger, or have higher equity than the other. However, they must both have a good amount of reach and presence in the market. If you have a mutual partnership interest with a brand, request for annual sales and marketing reports. They will most likely request for the same to be sure that your brand has value to offer them.

Before approaching a brand for partnership, ensure that you have all needed reports in order. They might also conduct some online research on your brand, so keep your website updated with the best user friendly features, and news on brand developments.

4. Stay within your pricing bracket

A partnership between two brands in different pricing brackets will be difficult to pull off. Target learned this lesson the hard way from their partnership with Neiman Marcus. In 2012, they brought in high-end fashion pieces from Neiman Marcus into their department stores. Fashion influencers completely undervalued the collection, and their comments heavily affected sales. Eventually, Target had to offer a 70% price slash to get rid of the items.

To avoid causing this disconnect in your co-branding partnership, make sure both customers can easily afford each other’s products and services.

If the pricing gap is too far apart, the partnership might not be worth it.

5. Offer innovative packages

It’s not enough to create a two-in-one package and stamp both brand logos on your marketing materials. You must be able to solve a problem, even if it’s not a hard driven one. Your offer could make a product/service easier or more fun to use. Whatever you come up with must be able to prompt a ‘need response’ from the market.

In conclusion…

For a smooth and profitable co-branding partnership, outline every aspect of the relationship on paper before actual work commences. This will make it easier for both parties to refer to the initial agreements if needed. Beyond all the obvious factors, ensure that your teams understand, and easily integrate with each other. This goes from marketing, all the way to production, especially if you will be creating custom products/services. Pick a brand that you can ‘win’ with.

About the Author

RaitRait is a full time online marketer and SEO enthusiast with over 10 years of experience. He has helped hundreds of businesses to dominate the search engines and drive more targeted traffic to their websites. In his spare time, he plays guitar, keeps fit and loves reading.


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