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When Two Become One: The Power of Brand Partnerships

Strategic brand partnerships can be a highly effective way to build business – they enable brands to compete in new markets, raise public awareness and of course, generate sales. Co-branding allows brands to combine their best elements and empower their similar market statement – creating a kind of ‘power couple’ that proves that the whole is greater than a sum of its parts. Of course, there is also risk involved with these kinds of marketing ventures. Both brands will have to deal with any negative attention, even if it is directed at the other brand – plus positive feedback may seem diluted, as it has to be shared rather than received solely by one alone. We had a look at some recent brand partnerships and how they worked (or didn’t) for the brands involved:

Burger king and McDonalds

In honour of International Day of Peace, on September 21st, Burger King called out for a ceasefire with rival fast food chain McDonald’s. Burger King proposed that they work together and combine their respective signature sandwiches to create a McWhopper for one day only – with all proceeds donated to the Peace One Day charity.

Much to the disappointment of burger fans, Burger King’s advances were declined by McDonalds. Missed opportunity or sound brand protection?

Google and Nestlé

Earlier this year, Nestlé partnered with Google and rebranded “KitKat Break’ as “YouTube Break” for a limited run of 600,000 bars in the UK..

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This is not the first time Nestlé has joined forces with Google, who in 2013 named Android 4.4 “KitKat” as part of a branding deal.

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For Nestlé the branding partnership allows them to leverage digital technology and online content to get closer to its consumers and better understand and cater to their preferences.Whereas for Google, the marriage allows them to use consumer affection towards Nestlé as a mean to reach a bigger market.

Spotify and Uber

This clever partnership allows people with premium Spotify accounts to listen to their own music in cars booked through Uber. By giving customers the ability to enter a hired car welcomed by their favourite playlists, Uber is able to provide added value as well as meaningful competitive advantage and exclusivity. For Spotify, the partnership provides an incentive for current users to upgrade to the premium level or encourage new users to join – as well as adding a unique point of difference between other music services such as iTunes or YouTube.

H&M and Guest Designers

H&M’s limited time collaborations with high end fashion designers support their brand positioning as a trendy fashion destination as well as drive shoppers into their stores and increase sales. The fact that the collection is limited helps provide more of a buzz and sense of urgency to buy and thus increases consumer awareness for the fashion retailer and the designer. By providing customers with the rare opportunity to own a designer item at a more affordable cost, the collaboration helps the design brand to forge a bond with a new generation of potential customers, who will increasingly aspire to owning more pieces from the more high end collection.

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Coca-Cola and O.P.I

Coca-Cola and O.P.I teamed up to create a line of 9 nail lacquers inspired by some of Coca-Cola’s most popular beverages, including Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry and Vanilla Coke, Sprite, Fanta and the classic red Coca-Cola. The idea behind this co-branding strategy was to illustrate the fact that both brands deliver happiness in a bottle, whether it’s a refreshing sip of Coke or nails perfectly polished with OPI nail lacquer.

Both brands have a core target teen audience so working together they can further connect with their consumers in a fresh and exciting way – whilst helping them expand their global reach.

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Louis Vuitton and BMW

The French fashion house created a range of luggage specifically designed to fit in BMW’s i8 hybrid sports car – and at $20,000 a pop, the 4 piece set was designed to appeal to the tastes, and wallets, of owners of the high end BMW i8 model (that starts at $135,700) The two brands work together to elevate a sense of exclusivity, as well as associations of strong styling and quality.

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Betty Crocker and The Hershey Company

Betty Crocker and Hershey are both connected to the world of treat eating, so it was naturally a sweet marriage when the two got together. Although Betty Crocker rules the baking aisle, but when it comes to chocolate, Hershey’s is a much bigger name. By combining forces the two iconic brands become much stronger and attract a much larger customer base, including people that may not have tried the other before.

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Lego and Shell

Lego started producing Shell-branded toys, such as oil tankers, in the 1960s – when the car was seen as a liberating force and oil companies enjoyed a better reputation. This partnership was renewed in 2011 – with Lego planning to make shell-branded products and Shell to sell these products throughout their global network. However, this is the point where the 50-year partnership came to an end after Greenpeace targeted the two brands with aggressive campaigning that pointed out the ethical complications of Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic.

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The Greenpeace campaign centred itself about a YouTube video that depicts a Lego Shell drilling rig in a Lego Arctic and the effects that this has on the wildlife – all of which slowly gets submersed in crude oil. This incident shows that although the deal made great commercial sense for Lego, the risk of a damaged reputation through negative association was very high.