Co-Branding – The ‘I’m with them’ Promotional Product Strategy
We love a good mash-up – when the great parts of our favourite things combine into something magical. When you nail a cross-over people will talk about it. Co-branding is one strategy that works so well for starting conversation. 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 organisation 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, the endorsement of your co-brand can smooth the way.
An affiliation builds your credibility to match your partner’s as clients or potential customers see your companies as equals. Raising your profile within your industry can then result in further beneficial partnerships and collaborations. You will also set your brand apart from competitors, establishing yourself as an industry leader through the B2B relationships you build.
Your brand will be saying ‘I’m with them’ in terms of company values. Aligning with a brand that is clear about what they value and their stance on social issues can change the way your company is viewed. A strategic affiliation can shift the opinions of an entirely different demographic in your favour.
The beauty of co-branding or strategic affiliation, is that your potential clients get a whole lot of information about you and your brand because they already know your affiliate. They can guess your values and priorities, your industry standing and your objectives by the fact that you’re working together with a brand that they know those things about. That being said, the partnership has to make some sense.
One of the longest continuous co-branding partnerships that 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 to create a product that is still being sold today. While the two seem like quite different companies, their target markets are the same and their products are highly compatible. 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?
It means putting your logo on a product that is made by a big-brand, rather than putting your logo on a product next to a big-brand. An example of this kind of co-branding would be your logo on a KeepCup. It is a perfect fit if you want to project your brand’s stance on environmental responsibility to clients or potential customers. Alternatively, if you were trying to raise your brand awareness and industry standing in the rural community, you may use Akubra products in your company’s apparel or as branded merchandise.
Leveraging a product that is well-known and respected in your target market will immediately raise the perceived value. Consumers will keep and interact with the product for longer, resulting in many more impressions. The chances of them considering your brand for their next purchase or service needs will also increase. You can read more about perceived value and impressions in our Cost vs Value post.
Keep it appropriate
The right “big-brand” product will give your own brand credibility within your target market in the same way that conventional co-branding does. Seeing your employees in Calvin Klein company shirts speaks volumes to clients when out on sales-calls.
As previously though, the partnership has to make sense. The product must reflect your brand or the message you are trying to portray. If the match is wrong, you could lose the message and 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 know your target market, have a clear message and choose a brand or product that makes sense.
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