When you choose not to go it alone
OK, so the news coverage has brought to light one form of co-branding—the unsanctioned kind—Michael Jordan vs. Dominicks.
But that instance aside, let’s look at when co-branding makes sense. First some background. According to Wikipedia,
Co-branding refers to several different marketing arrangements: Co-branding, also called brand partnership, is when two companies form an alliance to work together, creating marketing synergy. The term ‘co-branding’ is relatively new to the business vocabulary and is used to encompass a wide range of marketing activities involving the use of two (and sometimes more) brands. Thus co-branding could be considered to include sponsorships, where Marlboro lends it name to Ferrari or accountants Ernst and Young support the Monet exhibition. Co-branding is an arrangement that associates a single product or service with more than one brand name, or otherwise associates a product with someone other than the principal producer. The typical co-branding agreement involves two or more companies acting in cooperation to associate any of various logos, color schemes, or brand identifiers to a specific product that is contractually designated for this purpose. The object for this is to combine the strength of two brands, in order to increase the premium consumers are willing to pay, make the product or service more resistant to copying by private label manufacturers, or to combine the different perceived properties associated with these brands with a single product.
That all being said, the value of co-branding is for one brand to capitalize on some aspect of the second brand’s equity. This could be by using brand A’s audience to introduce brand B (expanding market reach). Or capitalizing on a brand personality trait or value to achieve a halo effect for the second brand. Sometimes it’s just two solid brands wanting to capture a significant marketshare. Co-branding is quite prevalent in the consumer space and includes a wide variety of types of brands. Airlines and credit card companies. Martha Stewart with Home Depot. Pottery Barn and Benjamin Moore Paint. Celebrity endorsement can even be construed as co-branding since the rise of individuals as brand giants—Kardashian, Trump, Jennifer Aniston. A great example you’ll see everyday is the recent co-branding effort between Divvy bikes and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Their clever headline ties the two brands together quite well, capitalizing on both brands’ color asset.
There are numerous considerations when thinking about implementing a co-branding strategy. A recent study and paper from the Journal of International Consumer Marketing, delves deeply into hypotheses and results from a co-brand research study, titled “Impact of Luxury Brand Retailer Co-Branding Strategy on Potential Customers: A Cross-Cultural Study”. [LINK] This was a compare and contrast study of US and Indonesian marketplace differences. While this is an extensive and highly specific research effort, there are several interesting take-aways, among them:
• Product ‘fit’ is important for success. Both brands should share certain traits—both are luxury brands, both value sustainability, etc.
• The ‘culture’ of the target audience affects the believability of the co-brand. Some market segments trust more readily than others.
• For brands looking to expand globally, co-branding with a trusted ‘local’ business can bring immediate reward.
We recently launched a point-of-sale co-brand promotion test for one of our clients. Fleetmatics is a leading provider of GPS fleet management solutions for large and small businesses. They selected McKnight Kurland to develop and launch a test market co-branded promotion with Meineke (a franchise network of locally-owned car care shops). By targeting small fleet owners who select Meineke for their vehicle service needs, Fleetmatics hoped to capitalize on their positive brand equity to introduce Fleetmatics services, creating a win, win, win situation: Meineke provides a value-add option to their customers with systematized fleet maintenance. Fleetmatics gets a warm introduction to prospects in one of their difficult to identify target markets. And the customer gets a systematic approach that saves significant fuel, money and paperwork. We recommended and developed a series of point of sale elements, driving the customer to a campaign landing page for a free product demo. The eye-catching headline was geared to the overwhelmingly male audience.
This was a classic example of two well-aligned brands capitalizing on each other’s strengths. So consider adding co-branding to your marketing planning strategies, and think, “What brand would my organization benefit from ‘partnering’ with?”Share: