CO-BRANDING – The ‘I’m with them’ Promotional Product Strategy
We love a good mash-up. When the best parts of our favourite things combine into something magical. People talk about a well-executed cross-over. Co-branding is one strategy that works to start conversations. So, when you’re thinking about your promotional product strategy, why not consider partnering up? Give your audience the best of both worlds.
‘I’m with them!’
Co-Branding is tapping into the best bits of a brand to strengthen your own. Aligning your company to another, more popular brand can really elevate yours.
Ideally, you’ll have similar target markets.
This lifts your brand awareness among the people you should be doing business with. Or, if you are looking to break into a market that is slightly outside your usual, your co-brand’s endorsement can smooth the way.
An affiliation builds your credibility to match your partner’s. Clients or potential customers then see your companies as equal.
It’s then a flow-on effect. Raising your brand’s profile results in more mutually-beneficial partnerships and collaborations down the road.
You also set your brand apart from competitors by establishing yourself as an industry leader. Essentially, through the B2B relationships you build.
Your brand will be saying ‘I’m with them’ in terms of company values. Aligning with a brand with clear values and a stance on social issues can change the way your audience views your brand. In this case, a strategic affiliation can shift an entirely different demographic’s opinions in your favour.
The beauty of co-branding, is that your potential clients get a whole lot of information about you and your brand because they already know your affiliate. If they know your co-brand well, they can guess your values and priorities, your industry standing and your objectives. They’ll know by the fact that you’re working together. That being said, the partnership has to make some sense.
Side by side branding
As an example, one of the longest continuous co-branding partnerships we’ve found is the Dr. Pepper/Bonne Belle Lip Smacker lip balm. The soft-drink brand lent the taste of their product to the cosmetic brand in 1973. Together they created an iconic product that is still being sold today. While the two seem like quite different companies, their target markets are the same. Their products are highly compatible too. The result is a logical collaboration of the two brands into a single product that has been popular for almost 50 years.
A promotional product strategy
Most commonly, co-branding happens as a promotional product strategy for one-off sponsored events. Companies will collaborate on their promotional products to distribute them at sports games and community events. Brands may also come together on singular occasions to commemorate an industry event for their shared client base.
A more subtle, and possibly more powerful, way of co-branding is branding “big-brand” products. But what on earth does that mean?
Ultimately, it means putting your logo on a product that is made by a big-brand. Rather than putting your logo next to a big-brand.
An example of this kind of co-branding is your logo on a KeepCup. It is a perfect fit to project your brand’s stance on environmental responsibility to clients or potential customers. Alternatively, if your goal was to raise brand awareness and standing in the rural community, you may use Akubra products in your apparel and branded merchandise.
Leveraging a product that your target market knows well and respects immediately raises the product’s perceived value. Consumers keep and interact with the product longer. And we know that a product your audience uses more often results in more impressions.
Additionally, the chances of them considering your brand for their next purchase or service needs also increases. You can read more about perceived value and impressions in our Cost vs Value post.
Keep co-branding appropriate
The right “big-brand” product gives your own brand credibility within your target market. It does it in the same way that conventional co-branding does. That is, your employees in Calvin Klein and your logo speaks volumes to clients on sales-calls.
As previously though, the partnership has to make sense.
The product must reflect your brand. Otherwise the message you are trying to portray gets lost. If the match is wrong, you could lose the credibility you were trying to attain, and then some.
A confused client is not too motivated to buy.
Even the daddy of all big-brands is not immune to a dud co-branded product. Coca-Cola teamed with OPI nail polish in 2014 to create a collection based on Coca-Cola brands and flavours. This collaboration could have made sense if the polish was scented. Or even intended only to cash in on the signature Coke-red colour. Instead, it featured, among others; a silver for Diet Coke, a deep green for Sprite and a baby pink that even they couldn’t explain on their website.
Due to Coca-Cola’s behemoth status, it didn’t lose out on this misadventure. However, it has left a lot of people thinking, ‘huh?’
If you’d like to give your brand a boost, consider adding co-branding to your promotional product strategy. Partner up with someone that will raise your profile and strengthen your stance on issues you feel passionate about. The key is to first, know your target market. Next, have a clear message and, finally, choose a brand or product that makes sense.
Harvey goes into some more detail about co-branding below. But for more promotional product insights, follow us on LinkedIn or contact us.