Aug 01

There’s an abundance of tips and techniques out there around exploiting cost effective digital and social media to raise brand awareness and engage customers, without a doubt, having a solid digital marketing plan is almost a pre-requisite to marketing success. Another, very cost effective technique that I have been using for a many years is Brand Partnerships.  Which is simply connecting with like-minded brands and exploiting each other’s marketing capability and activity to amplify your brand messages. These partnerships are generally based on good will, with no money exchanging hands, more a case of good old fashioned “you scrub my back, I’ll scrub yours”.

The benefits of brand partnerships

  • They allow you to reach a bigger and broader audience, which alone you might not be able to access.
  • They can add value to your consumer proposition, offering something above and beyond what your brand can offer.
  • They can enhance your brand perception, particularly if you are associating yourself with aspirational brands that have already established strong brand values and have a solid loyal consumer base. Think of it like people, if your close friend brought a new friend to your party, chances are you’d make the effort to get on with that person and want to form a relationship, that’s what you are hoping to achieve by partnering with another brand – acquiring new friends (customers).


Whilst all of these benefits are certainly up for the taking, there are some pitfalls and things to be mindful of before going into any brand partnerships, including:

  • When deciding what companies and brands to approach for partnership discussions, do your homework, select brands that are:
  1. Consumer Relevant – don’t just pick a brand because you know someone who works for the company, easy options are not always best; particularly because consumers are very savvy and partnering with brands that are not relevant to, or do not resonate with them may only act to alienate rather than engage.
  2. Aligned – remember, by associating yourself with another brand you are endorsing one another, so make sure you are very clear on what the partner brand stands for in terms of their values and ethics, you should be able to quickly identify these by looking at their website and can then validate further in a face to face meeting.
  • Once, you have identified some brands to approach, do a little bit more work before making contact; consider what marketing tactics you are already employing that you could allow another brand to be involved with and have an understanding of the types of activities they are already doing and where you see your brand fitting in. Obviously once you have a meeting to discuss joint opportunities, then all sorts of other ideas will no doubt come out, but it is a good idea to have some thought starters to allow you to begin the conversation.
  • If you are effectively “cold calling” a brand owner or marketing manager to discuss partnership opportunities, there are a number of techniques to get noticed and to avoid you spending too much time chasing your tail. For bigger brands, the likelihood is they’ll have a PR agency, I would normally recommend making contact with them first. PR managers are usually very reliable at passing on ideas to their clients, not only does it make them look good, it might be something the PR agency would actually follow through with, so it’s in their interests to pursue it. If the company you want to make contact with don’t have a PR agency, I’d always suggest picking up the phone, but if they are difficult to reach or you can’t find a phone number then try locating the Marketing Director or Marketing Manager on LinkedIn; briefly explain your idea in the “contact request” and provide your email and phone number for them to follow up.
  • Once you’ve started discussions with new brand partners, make sure you are clear on each others objectives, once you’ve determined the detail of the agreed activity, make sure each party is very clear on their responsibilities and associated deadlines – if it is a big piece of activity, then it would make sense to have something in written and signed. Whilst I mentioned earlier that no money passes hands, there may well be associated production costs, so agree up front how these are paid for; put a value against each others’ activity and strive to create fair deal. The only way for brand affinity partnerships to work in the long term is to create a win: win situation for both parties, using the people analogy again, the last thing you want is one of those friends (partners) who just takes, takes, takes because eventually the relationship becomes toxic and falls apart, so try and keep up the spirit of a partnership – give and take.
  • As with any marketing activity you do, evaluation should always be factored in during and after the campaign, so make sure you agree the metrics up front and of course share the results with your brand partner. If your objectives weren’t met, try and understand why and whether there is an opportunity to do something differently next time around based on the key learnings.

Here’s a few of the successful brand partnerships I have activated over the years to give you an idea of the types of brand connections and mechanics that make sense and have worked.

  • Centrum Multivitamins with Fitness First Gyms – free gym pass printed inside every packet of vitamins.
  • McVitie’s biscuits with PG Tips – competitions to win a year’s supply of tea & biccies
  • Disney Princess Potties with Huggies Pull-Ups – potty giveaway competition in the Huggies potty training newsletter.
  • Baby monitors with SMA baby milk – monthly monitor giveaway competition in the SMA Baby Club.
  • TOMY games with Ramada Family Hotel Chain – games to hire when families where checking in to the hotel with children.
  • Summer Infant Baby Products with Forest Holidays – product placement in Forest Holiday retreats
  • Nimble Babies Baby Bottle Cleaner with Yoomi Baby Bottles – competitions and free Nimble Babies with purchases of Yoomi Sets

If you need some help in devising an Brand Partnership Strategy or are looking for someone to connect your brand with other suitable partner brands, then contact us to discuss how we might be able to assist you: