It might seem counterintuitive to partner with a like brand if you’re creating a promotion that gives you more visibility by helping to set your brand apart from the crowd; but partnerships can be surprisingly effective.
A new foothold
A brand partnership is a relationship that results in mutually beneficial exposure to audiences that neither brand may be able to reach on their own. As Marketing Director Natalie Staines, puts it, “[Brands] use other brands. When one target audience is totally saturated, leveraging another brand, and the peer influence of its followers, is an almost necessary means to an end” (r2integrated.com). After spending a lot of time targeting the same audience, your marketing efforts might begin to feel like they’re getting weaker. With the power of another brand at your side and with a new set of assets in your arsenal, you can double up on your marketing and reinvigorate your brand promotion.
Big brands work together
Even major, well-established brands partner with one another to leverage each other’s influence and continue to generate awareness. There are plenty of examples of this kind of partnership in action. Consider two brands that you’re probably familiar with: Velveeta Cheese and Ro-Tel canned tomatoes. To maximize their media budgets and reach more consumers, the brands decided to partner up. After all, their products make a great combination at football games and tailgate parties, and it’s easy to display them together in a retail setting.
The brands began by using in-store displays to showcase both product side-by-side. Through these displays, the brands were suggesting to consumers that Velveeta Cheese and Ro-Tel canned tomatoes are a great pairing, and consumers quickly began to catch on.
After finding success by pairing their brands for consumers in retail settings, Velveeta and Ro-Tel formalized their partnership and began running joint TV ad campaigns. Their TV spots were a plug for tomato-infused queso dip, something that consumers could make easily with Velveeta Cheese and Ro-Tel tomatoes. Online and in print, the brands presented other recipes that paired their products together, like casseroles and skillets (adage.com)
What we can extrapolate from the example above, and what is indeed a critical truth of partnering with like brands, is that a brand can enjoy exposure to new audiences in a partnership that it would be unable to reach on its own. There are a number of reasons that you might not be able to move beyond your target audience: not enough resources, limiting brand perceptions, lack of creative direction, etc. The point is that with a totally different brand to back you up, you can take your brand to new places. Velveeta’s Senior Brand Manager Katie Peterson says, “This is a way to get more dollars to spend against advertising and drag more awareness for our messaging” (adage.com).
Not everyone is your competition
One of the biggest mistakes that brand managers and marketing directors can make is that they treat other brands with contempt because they perceive anything outside of their own brand as competition. This is a dramatic over-simplification, and it just isn’t true. Think back to the example of Velveeta and Ro-Tel. Theses brands are actually owned by Kraft and ConAgra, two major competitors in the grocery store. Yet, when they teamed up, they were able to do things for their brands that neither side could accomplish alone.
Think about the future
When you’re ready to begin searching for a partnership, think about what your brand needs and what goals you want to achieve. Look for a brand that has a different but similar target audience. It pays to be forward-thinking as you navigate new partnerships. “Cast your eyes toward the future and ask yourself where you want to be in 6 months, 12 months, or even 2 years. Then decide whether this partnership is going to make sense now and in the future” (fastcompany.com). Partnerships don’t have to be indefinite, but they should contribute to your brand’s long term goals and vision.