We are confronted with 1200 advertising messages per day, so to gain visibility, brands use many techniques and co-branding or “brand partnership” is one of them. It allows brands to associate for a more or less long period in order to set up commercial or communication operations. To reinforce one’s identity and gain visibility, co-branding is a powerful tool because it is an association of the identity and know-how of two brands for the production of a product or a service or for the creation of a specific communication operation.
What is co-branding?
You have probably seen commercial or communication operations carried out by several brands? This is what is called co-branding. Co-branding is a strategy that serves the marketing of a brand because it allows to cross the image and the notoriety of the brands that are associated and thus, to reinforce their visibility and to target a new audience.
These marketing operations have a considerable impact on the image of brands because they are supported by a communication plan and above all, an efficient digital communication. They allow to develop a particular identity according to the collaborations made, to release a positive image of the company or to develop a new strategy of management of the brand image.
Each brand has an identity and when they are evoked, especially for the big brands, they generate a feeling, an emotion or particular ideas according to the values they put forward.
For example, when we think of Red Bull, we think of a strong, sensational brand because it has oriented its marketing in such a way as to be perceived as such by the public. Thus, a co-branding operation with the Go-pro camera brand allows it to penetrate the video market by focusing its communication on high-level athletes or those practicing extreme sports.
Thus, when co-branding operations are set up, it is to cross these identities, to boost and develop a particular image thanks to the DNA of the partner brand.
What is the benefit of implementing a co-branding strategy?
As you can see, when brands join forces for a co-branding operation, it is often for specific reasons. But the objectives of these operations are multiple, because they can be used to :
Reinforce or develop the notoriety of a brand,
Find a new positioning for a brand,
Expand their visibility,
Penetrate new markets,
Expand the range of services or products offered to reach new targets...
In short, co-branding can, if done well, be a major asset in creating a clear perception of a brand among the public: it is very useful to create a strong brand image or to bring the brand to new targets.
To ensure a successful operation, brands and companies pay particular attention to the complementarity of their values, to set up a clear strategy and a brand image. This serves both partners who, in addition, rely on market research to find a relevant offer to reach the targeted prospects.
For example, the collaboration between Dior and Nike with the Air Jordan 1 sneaker allowed Nike to approach the world of luxury and the luxury brand Dior became accessible and visible to a new audience. The same goes for the Adidas and Prada collaboration.
Creating a co-branding strategy allows you to reach new potential customers and maximize returns on investment. Accompanied by an adapted content strategy, it also allows the differentiation of the brand from its competitors.
The different types of co-branding
Which sectors use co-branding?
Co-branding can take many forms and be exercised in various sectors. Most often, these operations take place in the food sector: among many others, we can cite the collaboration between Coca Cola and the Bacardi rum brand. Many collaborations also take place in the fashion sector, such as those mentioned above.
They can also cross various sectors of activity: that of services and food with the Netflix platform and the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream brand, that of the automobile and fashion: the kenzo renault or the photo and drink: gopro and redbull.
We distinguish functional co-branding from symbolic co-branding.
Here, co-branding is used to help a brand develop its reputation thanks to the reputation of another. A brand is invited by another brand to use its know-how and its parts, materials and distribution chain to create a product. For example, Mercedes and Swarovski joined forces in 2010 to create keys decorated with crystals.
The co-branding operation is then dominated by a brand called the host brand or employer brand, which takes charge of the production and distribution of the product. The guest brand benefits from new business opportunities or a commission on sales.
This time, the marketing interest is to allow by a collaboration, a simultaneous promotion of two distinct brands or companies. It must allow to associate two brand images during the creation of a product. This is the example of the North face and Gucci or the collaboration between Coca and KarlLagerfeld.
The purpose of this association is simple: By teaming up with a certain brand name, the host brand will be associated in the minds of consumers with the guest brand. This allows it to reach new targets while benefiting from the image of the guest brand.
For example, thanks to its collaboration with Haribo, Nissan was able to direct its visibility towards a family audience and thus compete with Peugeot’s 806, which is registered in this same market.
How does a co-branding operation between two brands work?
For a collaboration to work, it must meet certain criteria:
Choosing a partner with similar values
The choice of the partner is essential because in these co-branding marketing practices, the partnership must allow to develop brand awareness, to penetrate a new market, to reinforce its positioning on a market and many other things as to generate qualified traffic on the website or social media of a brand or to reinforce its conversion rate.
In short, it is a real marketing lever that allows to build loyalty or to reach new prospects. Thus, the choice of the partner is essential and the collaborators must share common values or have compatible brand images and remain coherent and relevant to the target audience.
Development of a clear strategy and a precise marketing plan
To develop the visibility of the brands and their campaigns, it is also necessary to agree on the objectives of both partners: what goal should this marketing strategy achieve?
The strategy must be useful to both partners in order to reach an agreement and set up a cobranding action. In order to achieve the objectives, a precise strategy must be defined and validated by both parties in order to establish the use of resources and their implementation.
This is the moment for both brands to determine which marketing levers will be used: digital levers, webmarketing, which creative line will be followed, which visuals will be adopted…
It should also allow to limit the cannibalization of one brand by another. Indeed, the risk that the co-branded product will be confused with another product of one of the associated brands in the mind of the consumer is present and must be prevented.
Develop a product
Now that the collaboration has been decided: with which brand, why and to meet which objectives, it is time to think about the product that will be created. The association of different brands results in a distinctive and original product or service that is usually very appreciated by customers, especially in the ready-to-wear sector.
This is the moment when the brands agree on the nature of the product, its design, its price, its quality, or the distribution methods.
It is also necessary to carry out an analysis work in order to know the target in order to generate notoriety and an effective sales promotion. Here, the customer experience is put forward since to succeed in its strategy, it is important to reach its target.
Build a solid marketing strategy
Co-branding does not escape the marketing basics in this stage one comes to refine its strategy. Like any product, the one resulting from the collaboration of two brands answers the current marketing practices: to develop a strategy of visibility, to elaborate contents, to choose the media of diffusion and to measure the king.
The marketing managers then focus on identifying the targets that need to be converted into new customers, on proposing a unique product and marketing it on the market and on the communication and digital marketing strategy to be implemented.
Build an image that serves both brands.
This stage is the one of reflection around the communication strategy of the product, generally digital. A content and web communication strategy is then put in place to ensure consistency and efficiency of the campaign.
To seduce the consumer, both brands must build a visual identity that recalls their respective brand identities. It is the implementation of a particular storytelling that allows to distinguish the product and to promote a specific image by transmitting the values of the brands.
The product must create an identity or support it in order to enhance the brand and bring credibility and notoriety to the target audience.
Developing a co-branding strategy is an interesting opportunity to build and reach visibility objectives with a target audience. By combining the brands’ images and producing strategic content to reach new targets, co-branding can have a positive impact on both brands’ awareness.