Who pays any attention to brand partnerships these days? Me, apparently. I’ve spent the last year working on various brand partnerships. In all honesty, the concept of brand partnerships had rarely entered my thoughts before Cake. But the last year has opened my mind to the perks (and pitfalls) of brand partnerships.
If I’ve learnt anything, it’s that the best brand partnerships are just that – a partnership (stating the bleeding obvious I know). The best partnerships are those that are genuinely and truly mutually beneficial. Both parties benefit (in some way) from the partnership. Often, with no exchange of money between the two.
Brand partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. Here are just some…
- Brand rewards (as in the legendary Orange Wednesdays)
- New product innovation (the brilliantly over-quoted Nike + iPod)
- CSR (the inspired Orange Rockcorps)
- Promotions (the hugely popular Walkers Gary’s Great Trips)
- Content (Starbucks clever Digital Network for cwoffee drinkers)
- Celebrity ambassadors (think Beckham in his H&M pants)
There are of course more uses of brand partnerships than this, but I think that’ll do for now (yes I was possibly distracted by Beckham in those pants).
Any who, I’ve been asking myself – why bother? And I’ve boiled it down to four key reasons. There are definitely more (and I’d love to hear them). Obviously it largely depends on what’s you’re trying to achieve (see above).
#1 to reduce costs
Or make money, depending on which way you look at it… Any who, O2 reward 1.8 million Priority Moment customers with everyday rewards – retail / eating out / travel / indulge / days out – but without exchanging money with their 100 + partners (at least as far as I know). So what’s in for the partners? Well apparently, retail and entertainment brands are seeing 30 – 40% conversion, while restaurant brands are seeing 60% conversion in-store (Source: O2 Media). A smart way for O2 and their brand partners to reduce costs and boost business don’t you think?
#2 Access new customers
Audience fragmentation means it’s increasingly difficult to reach large groups of consumers. Well integrated brand partnerships have the power to reach new audiences. The once cool Polaroid partnered with Lady Gaga to serve as Creative Director. Polaroid accessed millions of Gaga fans around the world, and momentarily pulled back from the brink of extinction. Shame it didn’t last…
#3 Increase customer loyalty
The Starbucks Digital Network serves up fresh premium content – including free access to The Economist, and Marvel Comics. Starbucks profit jumped 29% in the fourth-quarter 2011 primarily owing to continued loyalty among U.S customers.
#4 Build equity
Stella Artois have directed their brand image in a new direction using class, cool, and the Cannes Film Festival. Their ongoing association with film has allowed Stella to shake off their so-called “wife-beater” brand image.
Well, that seems to me like four bloody great reasons. Of course, some brand partnerships fail. Most critically, delivering the desired ROI requires a good deal to be well executed.
If you have an opinion on brand partnerships, I’d love to hear it. It would mean talking about something other than social media for a change wouldn’t it?! Heaven forbid…