Some rights reserved by Sarah Jane
Co-branding, is a marketing strategy that involves strategic alliance of multiple brand names jointly used on single product or service.
Co-branding, also called brand partnership, is when two companies form an alliance to work together, creating marketing synergy. As described in Co-Branding: The Science of Alliance:
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.
Here are seven questions — and answers — to help you understand when it’s best to co-brand and when you might want to decline such an opportunity.
Co-branding is not only about creating awareness whenever possible. You also need to protect your brand’s reputation when “partnering” with others. If you perceive any palpable risk, seriously consider not participating in the program. If you see no risk, ask yourself:
If the answer is only your brand or the third-party brand, in most cases you wouldn’t communicate as the new co-branded identity, but rather use the relevant brand’s identity. If the answer is both brands (or several brands in the case of multiple sponsorships), ask yourself:
This question is not binding, but it provides context that can help you find the right answer and approach. In an ordinary co-branding scenario, your audience will be interested in hearing about what the different brands have in common, not just about the exclusive aims of one particular brand.
If you’re communicating through your brand’s corporate channel, or that of a third party (e.g. internal massive email or town hall) you would normally be using that brand’s identity. However, if the communication takes place in a neutral place or channel (e.g. a backdrop in a hotel ballroom or a dedicated microsite), then co-branding with the new co-branded identity definitely applies.
Co-branding opportunities are beneficial when they benefit the individual strategies of the companies involved. Even when it’s beneficial for your marketing or sales efforts, you should make sure that the message being sent on behalf all of the participating brands doesn’t interfere with your messaging strategy and instead helps to reinforce its brand perception.
Any marketing program you participate in, including co-branding, should be meaningful for your brand strategy and not just “fluff.” Make sure that there is a compelling reason why your brand should participate.
Whether it’s because they are important brands in the sector, or because they’re just important for you, the question of what the other brands mean for the relationship is not insignificant in co-branding. Ask yourself how important the other brand is in the industry and for your business to improve the relationship. The answer will not only help you decide whether to co-brand or not, it will also help you define the co-branding communication approach.
As said, co-branding is not an exact science. But by asking yourself the right questions, you’ll be able to better decide which co-marketing opportunities are beneficial to enhance your corporate reputation, and how to approach them from a solid brand perspective.
By: Jose Ignacio Monrabal