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Two is mej che one: the unique world of co-branding

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Two is mej che one: the unique world of co-branding
Marketing

Why co-branding appeals to brands and users so much

It may not be a new nor particularly innovative topic, but it always made me think. Co-branding, in its broadest sense of collaboration between brands. Usually there are two, but in some particular cases or for some unknown reasons that works, we find more than two brands.

I'm talking in the broadest sense because we can talk about a co-branded product (Nike shoes in Sprite color, to name just one) but also about communication - posts, campaigns, social communications, on- and off-line, events, you name it. Of course, there's almost always a product, or a service, at the very root of it. Either way, it's a strategic collaboration.

It seems to be gaining more and more ground among brands, especially large, multinational ones, which are exploring new opportunities to gain market share and interact with consumers, as well as " join forces " and conquer their targets, for different product groups.

Why does co-branding work, though? There are several reasons, but the one that has always interested me is the psychological one, which involves the user's thinking. Like me, like you reading.

Maybe it's not true, but I really like the idea.

Joining forces: what is co-branding?

We all have direct experience of it, but just to recap: co-branding is a form of collaborative marketing that involves a partnership between two or more brands to market and communicate a product, a service, a common initiative.

Marketing activities are therefore coordinated and decided by the partners - no daydreaming, there is hardly ever anything random, guys.

At the base there is an in-depth study of the target audience to which they are addressing in a complementary way, because they share esteem, of course, but above all they share values and a common mission, a similar - but not equal - approach and Tone of Voice.

Similar but not equal. This is the concept behind brand collaboration. Looking for concrete results, of course (increased awareness, profits, conversions, recognition...whatever you want).

Which brands do this? Potentially, all of them! Of course, co-branding is almost never done for brands that operate in the same sector or that are competitors. It would lead to a standoff - unless there are ethical and engagement reasons behind it.

Why it works - Brand version

One of the first reasons why co-branding is so useful for brands is that it works - if well planned, it attracts users, entices them, makes them discover something new. Above all, it is something unique and probably limited. The product or service resulting from co-branding is unique by nature, different from the others and combines the two brands' characteristics (especially when fashion is involved).

Besides, the collaboration doesn't go on forever (maybe we exclude Air Jordan and Nike), so the temporal limitation of the edition is an extra hook.

The result combines values and, in a certain way, the USPs of the involved brands, but the result is more than just the sum of them. The perceived value is higher. The customer experience is unique and unrepeatable by definition, it won't happen again. This is a nice hook for the customer, especially if he is a fan of both brands.

If you've reached this point to understand why brands invest in it, we should have figured it out by now, just as a reminder:

  • greater brand awareness
  • greater perceived value
  • greater engagement and acquisition of new potential consumers by intercepting the co-brand's target audience
  • increased sales - product uniqueness
  • if you monitor the collaboration properly - loyalty

Let's be clear: there are risks, which arise mainly from incorrect evaluations at the time of choosing the brand to partner with - and therefore its target audience.

  1. One can obscure the other
  2. The communication mistake, when two brands join forces (for direct advantages) but have little in common
  3. The choice of a competitor - more or less direct - that will appear forced and "fake" to the user
  4. Risk that the product does not meet expectations - but this actually applies to everyone

For users: there is only one world out there

I finally got to the part that matters most to me - the user, the person, the psychological reason why co-branding appeals to us. Of course, what we've seen before applies now - the uniqueness, the exclusivity, the limitedness, having something that combines the best features of two brands we're fans of.

That's undoubtedly true but I like to think of a deeper, more psychological and ontological reason (WARNING: big words coming).

The reason is that the big brands propose their values, their vision, their way of living, in order to appeal to and involve us, to hook the right target. Of course, each of them has its own.

There's Apple - Think different

There's Nike - Just do it

There's Coca Cola - Always Coca Cola

Each of these brands propose its lifestyle vision, a bit like a watertight compartment. From time to time you're a Nike customer, an Apple user, a Coca-Cola customer, but never all at once.

You live in the red, imaginative and magical world of Coca-Cola. In the dreamy world of Disney. In the fierce and determined one of Under Armour. As if they were different universes.

We live out here. In a unique, multi-faceted world where our personalities change and evolve, and our choices as well. We live in these worlds simultaneously, we are fans of all of these brands at the same time - because there' s something at the core that unites them. Us.

When brands come together and collaborate, we find a bit of uniqueness in them as well. We feel them closer than ever. We finally find our world in theirs - a world where everything is mixed and different (but not opposing) values coexist.

We discover that their world is - for once - similar to ours. We don't have to choose which world to live in or who to be. We can be ourselves. And we like it.