Considering a Brand Partnership? Proceed with Caution

If you ever wanted to have a fresh espresso while stuck in traffic, you are in luck. Granted you would have to be stuck in traffic in Europe, Fiat has teamed up with coffee maker Lavazza in producing a new kind of accessory for the new Fiat 500. The new car comes equipped with a built in coffee machine next to the gear stick. And fear not, the machine has a sugar container, pod dispenser, and a even a spoon.

Brands have often entered partnerships in an attempt to enter new markets, improve their image, or offer added value to their consumers. These partnerships can take on many forms like rewards programs (because really, how many rewards cards do you have in your wallet), new products, or even celebrity ambassadorships. By combining their resources, the two brands are able to save money and reach a broader audience reaching a market they could not have entered solo.

Recently, Nike and Apple revolutionized the world of runners when they introduced their Nike+ partnership. The new Nike shoes would allow you to track your runs on your iPod or iPhone, giving consumers the upper hand in reviewing, tracking, and sharing their progress with the world through Social Media.  Tide and Downy partnered to create liquid detergent with softened added. It allowed the consumers to buy one item instead of two, and easing the process of laundry.

Tide partnered with Downy and provided consumers with a useful new product that exemplified each brand.

In his book, BRAND Sense, Martin Lindstrom talked in detail about brand partnerships, and according to the World renowned brand guru, over 90% of brand partnerships fail for one reason or another. Entering a love affair with another brand is like any other relationship. Once the honeymoon phase is over, if one brands makes a mistake it can tarnish their partner as well. Burger King enlisted Mary J Blige to write a song about its new fried chicken sandwich. Although the intentions were good, consumers were in uproar and claimed that Burger King was trying to send a subliminal message about African Americans and their love for fried chicken.

Savvy consumers will quickly reject brand partnerships if they feel that mixing the morals of the two brands does not add up. Also partnerships that come across as a PR stunt will end up hurting both brands in the end. Remember when Donatella Versace created a limited time collection for H&M? Everyone loved the concept until it was time to go to the store and buy the items. Consumers needed to register and set appointments to be allowed into the stores, and even that did not guarantee one would nab the desired item. Consumers were left unimpressed, and their whispers became a united shout on Social Media and the Internet. H&M has since launched several other partnerships with high end designers, but the pretentiousness has been dropped. No more line ups, no more appointments.

For brands contemplating a partnership, it is important to remember that once the partnership starts, good and bad times have to be addressed in a united front. Before entering a brand partnership you should ask yourself:

  • Do the values of our brands complement each other?
  • Are our goals the same?
  • Will a partnership make sense not only to the target market of the new offering, but also to our current brand communitites?
  • Will the management and responsibility of the partnership be fair on both ends?

And as for the offering, it has to be something that will wow the consumers, like Lego and Lynx Optique did in France. The two created build-your-own, customizable Lego sunglasses. Now there is something I would line up for!

These build-your-own Lego sunglasses are fun, hip, and mesh with each companies core values

Do you have any favourite brand mash-ups? Have you tried to partner with a brand in the past? How did it go? We want to hear what you have to say, so please leave a comment in the field below.


Blade Brain Trust

The Blade Brain Trust brings you relevant insights to help you build your brand community.

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