Brand X Brand – The Rise Of Collaboration
In just the last couple of years, we have been seeing a rise in the number of brands popping up all around the world. With every industry becoming increasingly saturated, what do brands have to do in order to stand out and stay ahead? Enter brand collaborations — where brands from different industries partner together and birth forth something that collaborations within the industry could never have achieved!
Just take a good look around you, this is the age of collaboration. More and more brands are doing it — brands with brands, brands with influencers, and even brands with kpop stars! This unique approach is an ideal solution that engages and excites customers, and if done right, can establish long-term customer loyalty.
What’s brand collaboration?
The concept of brand collaboration involves the strategic alliance between two (or more) brands, enabling them to curate a unique and specific product or service, and gain a competitive advantage in the market (Source: marketing91.com). Today, brand collaboration is a common part of brand management as well as a forward-looking business strategy.
Why are brands collaborating?
Increase brand reach
More often than not, brand collaborations tend to open up opportunities in reaching new and wider groups of audiences. As these collaborations usually involve two (or more) brands coming together, this means that not only can both brands market to their own existing customer base, but they can now tap on one another’s as well. This can translate to more reach and eventually more conversions!
Opportunities for innovation
When two brands collaborate, they usually work hand-in-hand to create something new, something out of the ordinary, something never-seen-before. By combining resources and expertise, such collaborations often see innovative spins on existing products, or even birth forth whole new ones with a fresh take.
In the past, brand collaborations were the tactic start-up companies used to leverage on the brand of more established companies, in order to propel their brand forward. However, with the change in today’s business dynamics, even established brands are opting for brand collaborations so as to stay relevant and fresh in their fields.
One brand that is no stranger to collaborations is Disney. Given the reputation and branding that Disney has built up for itself over the decades, it seems like it’s not just people who want to be associated with the brand. Over the years, Disney has been rather busy collaborating with fellow brands from across all industries — from food to fashion brands like H&M and UNIQLO, to even joining forces with the Italian luxury brand Gucci. Having a pretty good grasp and understanding of the magic behind brand collaborations, Disney is always bringing something new to the table that it sits at with other brands.
More recently in May 2020, ALDO Singapore announced their collaboration with the brand — Disney X ALDO: The Cinderella Collection (Image: @aldoshoes_sg). Given ALDO’s aim of delivering an unforgettable customer experience through its products, what better way to do so than with the experts who have created countless magical experiences for their audiences?
In this collaboration, the products stayed true to the Cinderella fairytale — with shoes named ‘Stepsisters’ and ‘Glass Slippers’, to color-coordinated handbags called ‘Bobbidi-boo’. As a result, ALDO was thus able to tap onto the Disney brand name and market their products to many more customers. Disney on the other hand, was able to leverage on the fashionwear expertise and distribution network of ALDO to tell one of their timeless stories in a fresh new — and wearable — way, not forgetting that they were also able to offer something new to appease the Disney fans in the process. Together, this collaboration has created yet another magical collection that has proven to be irresistible to many.
Another notable Disney collaboration is Disney X ColourPop. ColourPop has always been targeting the Millennials and Gen Zs, and has now partnered up with Disney to create the ultimate Disney Princess makeup line featuring collections inspired by Disney characters and films such as Mulan, Frozen, and even Disney Villains too! (Source: colourpop.com)
In doing so, not only does ColourPop offer more reasons for their existing customers to stick around, but they can now attract those who are die-hard Disney fans too!
Showing your customers you still ‘get’ them
Many brand collaborations have the aim of appealing to and attracting new customers, but sometimes collaboration isn’t about that. Sometimes, it’s simply showing your existing customers that you still care about, value, and understand them, which can go a long way in solidifying brand loyalty. Take the Adidas X Pharrel Williams collaboration for example. Both brands are doing significantly well on their own, but by spotting and jumping onto popular trends through collaboration, this has helped to further reinforce the brands’ relationships with their customers (Source: redhotpenny.com).
Promote a cause
It doesn’t always have to be about sales and marketing. Brands can also team up with ambassadors or non-profits to promote a cause. From global issues like climate change and alleviating poverty, to those closer to home such as raising awareness about mental health and inclusivity, these campaigns help to shed light on various topics, all while humanising the brand at the same time. The plus side? It makes for good CSR too.
What makes a brand x brand collaboration successful?
The first step is to find brands that share similar values to yours. You don’t have to have the exact same vision and mission, but having a common end goal in mind helps to ensure that you’re setting off on the right foot.
For a start, be clear of your brand’s own values first before finding others that fit yours. This makes it easier for your brand to eventually align with the right partners (Source: amanewyork.org). Next, do your research. Yes, a brand may look right on the outside — with its strong branding and appeal on social media — but it’s still crucial to find out the type of audience they attract and see if it aligns with your target audience.
Enter Red Bull X GoPro. The first impression of both brands would be to associate their target audience as those who are extreme sport fanatics. Being established lifestyle brands themselves, both Red Bull and GoPro exude a kind of exciting, adventurous, daring and action-packed personality. These shared values, personalities and target audiences is what makes this a successful collaboration.
Formalising the close working relationship, both brands signed a multi-year global partnership in 2016 that would span content production, distribution, cross-promotion and product innovation. One event that saw both brands working together was when GoPro covered the Red Bull Racing Team during the F1 season. With the use of GoPro’s HERO4 camera, this aimed to give fans a new perspective of the race, and an immersive viewing experience overall (Source: thedrum.com). The event collaboration also pushed the boundaries of how motosports was being videoed, which redefined the viewing experience and delivered the ultimate action-packed one through a screen.
Next is to evaluate the purpose of your brand collaboration. Why are the brands looking to collaborate? What do you/they want to get out of it? This means setting expectations early, and making sure that both parties are 100% clear of these goals and expectations.
Just like any relationship, communication is key in a working relationship. These days, with everything being publicised — sometimes with or without consent — it is crucial that both brands are fully aware of what is going on. As such, it is important to involve both parties in every stage of the process — from brainstorming to planning to execution.
When it comes to execution, the most important factor that both brands need to consider is audience engagement. If the whole point of collaborating is to increase brand awareness and your potential customer base, then engagement is a critical metric. Interaction with existing consumers, as well as potential ones, is very important. Try putting out polls, asking questions, running contests and engagement waves, or even making some of your content more personable. Use as many relevant platforms as you can, depending on where your audience is at. If you take a look at the Levi’s® x Peanuts® collaboration, they utilised not only Instagram, but Facebook, Twitter and TikTok ads (Image: @levis_singapore).
Go for it!
So start by thinking about what are some of the objectives you’d like to achieve, what your values are, and who your target audience is. Source out interesting brands from other industries that complement your brand’s values and personality. Make sure you’re aligned on your goals and target audience, then plan, plan, plan (with ample communication). Who knows, you might just create something that the world — or your audience — has never seen before.
Remember, there isn’t a manual to this thing. When it comes to brand collaboration, break the rules, think out of the box, try new things! The world is your oyster, so be bold and create amazing customer experiences for your brand.