3 Essentials of Effective Co-Branding

One of the most visible tool of marketing we see today – esp. on an offline level – is Co-Branding. Whether it is for penetrating the market, extending the brand or for gaining a global foothold, we see that more and more brands are employing co-branding in their marketing activities.

There are four forms forms of Co-branding that co-exist within the marketer’s arsenal today – Ingredient, Same-company, Joint venture and Multiple sponsor Co-branding – and all of these are powerful to introduce the products / services of one company to the core loyal customers of another. In simple terms, one brand’s aura level is utilized by another brand to promote itself.

No matter whichever brand you’re working with or the categories you are involved in, there are always pretty many options and ways of devising co-branded activities.

The most important requirement of co-branding is “connection” within the brand pairs. For example, if you’re co-branding with a Bank, you need to see whether the elements of the bank’s brand personality, values, promise, benefit, etc., MATCH with that of the brand you wish to do co-branding with. Without a common platform of connection – and that should be very strong and understood easily and recognized well by the customers stakeholders.

Second most important requirement is “target”. For each co-branding activity, the target audience need to be defined very carefully – not just the demographics, but more importantly the psychographics. If for example, a retail outlet’s overall focus is upon mid-aged customers who wish to look good, feel confident and have decent spending power, it would be a nice idea to look for a co-brand which focuses upon the “young-at-heart” liberated audience. Some of the best examples of target based co-branding are found within mobile phones categories.

Third most important requirement is “Benefit realization”. You need to consider and ensure that the target customer for both the pairing brands have some common platform of interest. This platform need NOT be something which is blatant and utility oriented, e.g. An Oil company co-branding with the most popular bank in the city / country. This platform should rather essentially be looking at meeting some common need areas that promote long lasting relationship between the pairing brands. E.g. a bank taking the initiative with a local cab company, to help the senior and retired citizens travel within the city, go shopping and get banking services, comfortably.

Remember, to some extent, co-branding is risky too! Slightest negative swing in any of the partners, might affect both the partners adversely. Hence if you ensure that at least the above 3 factors are well attended while choosing a co-brand, I feel you’d definitely have a successful co-branding campaign.

More on co-branding:

  1. Wei-Lun Chang, “Roadmap of Co-branding Positions and Strategies,” Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, Vol. 15, Sept 2009.
  2. The Pros and Cons of Co-Branding
  3. The ins and Out of Co-branding (Strategies)
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