Brand collaborations are all around us, and for good reason. At their best they can be a highly effective way for businesses to break into new markets, offer unique and new competitive advantages, access new distribution channels and benefit from the halo effect of a positive brand association.
We’ve seen Vivienne Westwood partner with ASOS to design an ethical bag line, Valentino join forces with Havianas to create luxury thongs and you can even hop into a hire car and be welcomed by your favourite playlist thanks to a collaboration between Spotify and Uber.
Wellspring spoke with leading entrepreneurs and experts to get their insights on how to execute the perfect brand collaboration.
Stick true to your vision
When you develop your own authentic voice and stay focused on your goals, the right opportunities will appear. Naturopath and founder of Mayde Tea (maydetea.com) Kate Dalton was approached by raw chocolate giant Pana Chocolate to create a line of co-branded chocolate-inspired herbal tea blends by doing just that.
“The way I ‘attracted’ Pana chocolate was by completely being myself, personally and through my brand. My products are all completely natural, handmade and organic – just like Pana Chocolate. Tea and chocolate are my two favourite things – so it has been a really wonderful partnership,” said Kate.
“I keep all of my social media about me and my brand. It’s clear to see on all of my social media how much love is put into my products and with Pana Chocolate being similar, the universe just brought us together into a beautifully matched little collaboration!”
Kate said the collaboration had paid off, with Pana Chocolate investing in photography capturing images of the co-branded tea alongside Pana Chocolate’s vegan cakes, with a flood of enquiries coming in each time the chocolate brand featured the range on its social media accounts.
Remember it is a marathon, not a sprint
Doing your research to ensure you are engaging with the right partners is key, according to founder of award winning, eco-friendly community organisation The New Joneses (thenewjoneses.com.au) Tamara DiMattina.
“Some partners bring things far more valuable than money to the table. I’ve learnt this the hard way after agreeing to unreasonable demands in exchange for funds which jeapordised my sanity and took away enjoyment of what was meant to be a fun, meaningful and inspiring project,” said Tamara.
“We look for partners who are willing to grow and thrive with us in our quest to maximise resources and minimise waste, who understand the value of building awareness and trust over time. In an ideal world, you can be really selective about your collaborations, going for only those that will really take you and your project to the next level.”
Plan an evolution, not a revolution
An effective collaboration should build on your value proposition rather than completely shift gears, said author of From Me to We Janine Garner (janinegarner.com.au).
“This is not about a company that makes glass jars suddenly stopping making glass jars and beginning to make an app for finding your local bottle shop,” said Janine.
“What it is about is working collaboratively with another SME who produces organic chutneys and jams – and reducing production costs, factory space, advertising overheads – and then bringing in a third company who are marketing specialists within the food industry, and in turn having that exchange of intellectual value.”
Get clear on what you have to offer
It is worthwhile to take a step back and be sure you fully grasp the assets you have available to exchange with a potential partner to negotiate more effectively, according to founder of strategic partnerships firm Collabosaurus (collabosaurus.com) Jessica Ruhfus.
“I’m a big believer in the idea that everybody has something someone else wants. Whether you have an engaged social media following, a great email list, excess product, a venue space, photography skills or even media contacts, it’s vital these assets are recognised as valuable negotiation tools,” said Jessica.
Jessica said it was often the case small business owners were duped in a partnership after failing to quantify their assets properly.
“Perhaps you’re partnering with a brand that has a social media following 100 times the size of yours, but you are the only one who has time to implement your partnership idea. Time, in this case, would be your asset. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and really listen to what your collaborator is looking for in order to ensure a mutually beneficial arrangement.”
Remember not one size fits all
There may be a multitude of partners who can add value to a business over its life cycle, according to renowned spa chef Sam Gowing (foodhealthwealth.com) who has partnered with a number of hospitality and food companies throughout her career. This included working with Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat to redesign its menus and culinary philosophy.
Sam said despite the entrepreneurial spirit thriving on an independent vision, an elegant business model would reveal there were many like-minded alliances and brand building cooperatives that help a business grow.
“The beauty of joint ventures is that you are able to source the right accomplice for the initiative. Much like a degustation menu, you don’t always want the same flavour in every business course,” said Sam.
“Synergistic relationships and creative network development will help you create unique events, programs and wellness incentives you simply cannot realise on your own. So buddy up and find those amazing twin flames to co-ignite your passion and purpose.”