Co-branding basics: advantages, strategies and examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Co-branding, or brand partnership, is a way for companies to share their marketing reach, increase their brand awareness and boost sales while also reducing their individual marketing costs and risks. Many companies adopt this marketing strategy to develop better products and reach the other company's consumer audiences. If you work in marketing or business development, learning about brand partnerships can be beneficial. In this article, we explain what brand partnership is, look at how it works, review the advantages of brand partnership and list some common brand partnership strategies and examples of successful brand partnership campaigns.

What is co-branding?

Co-branding, or brand partnership, is a marketing strategy in which two or more companies work together on a marketing campaign. A brand partnership involves more than simply including two brand names on a product. Instead, it's an alliance between companies that involves combining brand identities and the resources of each company to develop a new product or service, including new logos, brand identifiers and colours.

For a successful brand partnership marketing strategy and campaign, the partnering companies work together to develop a product or service that's unique or provides consumers with added value. Here, the consumer value might be a better product or service or a better brand image.

Related: Global branding: definition, benefits and useful strategies

Differences between a brand partnership and co-marketing

While these two terms are often confused, a brand partnership isn't the same as co-marketing. Co-marketing describes when two or more companies combine their marketing efforts, but without developing a new product or service. An example of co-marketing is Spotify's partnership with Starbucks. Here, Spotify's music streaming service can enhance the time spent in Starbucks enjoying a coffee, but they don't create a new product for customers.

Related: How to build a brand: a step-by-step guide to branding

How do brand partnerships work?

Brand partnerships involve two or more independent brands collaborating to develop a new product or service. Generally, the most successful brand partnerships occur when the partnering companies share similar missions, values and cultures. In a brand partnership, all the parties share resources, including their in-house expertise, funds and technologies. When a brand partnership results in a new product or service, the partnering companies typically create a new brand name or logo for it.

If the brand partnership campaign is a success, it can reward those involved with an increased customer base, higher profits and a positive brand association. Conversely, an unsuccessful brand partnership campaign is likely to result in the partnering companies not making any money but, due to sharing risks among each partner, the individual loss to each company is greatly reduced.

Related: How to become a brand strategist (with steps and duties)

Advantages of brand partnerships

Brand partnerships have many benefits to all the parties involved, including the customers who buy the products or use the service. The following are some of the key advantages of brand partnerships for companies:

  • produce higher-quality products

  • boost customer loyalty

  • increase customer base, including consumers from formerly unreached demographics

  • improve sales

  • share risk among all parties

  • generate income from royalties

  • improve brand awareness and recognition

  • share financial burden for marketing, technology development and promotional events

  • improve credibility and respectability when aligned with the right partner or project

Related: What are partnership benefits? (With pros and cons)

Types of brand partnership strategies

Here are some of the most popular types of brand partnership strategies:

Ingredient brand partnership

An ingredient brand partnership strategy describes when companies include the ingredients or certain components of a popular brand's product in a product from another popular brand. In this type of brand partnership, each brand is typically very well known in its field. Moreover, each brand's products usually have unique characteristics and receive protection from patents.

Joint venture or composite

Joint venture or composite brand partnerships describe when two or more well-known brands collaborate to create a new product or service that wouldn't be possible for them to develop individually. This may entail working together to develop a new product or to improve an existing one. A popular example of this is a streaming service platform and a film studio partnering to create or host films and television shows.

National to local

In national to local brand partnerships, small local businesses partner with a nationally recognisable brand. This type of brand partnership strategy aims to improve national brand awareness and increase small business revenue at the same time. For instance, car manufacturers often employ a brand partnership strategy with local car dealerships and Visa often co-brands credit cards with department stores and other small retailers.

Related: What is my personal brand? With 10 personal branding tips

Same-company brand partnerships

Same-company brand partnerships refer to a marketing strategy in which a company promotes several of their in-house brands under one product. This strategy is typically used by large food conglomerates to promote their products. While this type of brand partnership only includes one company, it may feature some collaboration with subsidiaries.

Related: Brand affinity: definition, importance and benefits

Multiple sponsor brand partnerships

Multiple sponsor brand partnerships refer to when two or more companies work together to share technology and promotional events. This type of brand partnership strategy is more common in athletic events, music concerts and stunts. When using this strategy, each partnering company can benefit from enhanced sales, reputation or brand awareness.

Related: How to develop a brand identity (plus tips for success)

Brand partnership examples

The following are some examples of successful brand partnerships:

GoPro and Red Bull

A popular example of a multiple sponsor brand partnership is the collaboration between GoPro, Red Bull and the Stratos event. GoPro, which is well known for portable cameras, and Red Bull, which is an energy drinks brand, have both established themselves as lifestyle brands, which are commonly associated with action, adventure and fearlessness. These shared values made them ideal partners for brand partnership campaigns in action sports. This partnership involves GoPro providing athletes and adventurers from around the world with funding and tools to capture things, such as races, stunts and action sports, on video from the athlete's perspective.

Meanwhile, Red Bull's contribution to these campaigns typically involved using its experience and reputation to run and sponsor these events. GoPro and Red Bull have partnered together for several events and projects, with their largest collaboration being the Stratos event. During this event, Felix Baumgartner accomplished a historic and record-breaking free fall from 128,000 feet above the Earth's surface. Both brands worked together to fund this event, alongside collaborating to handle any technological challenges, create promotional campaigns and film the event.

BMW and Louis Vuitton

Car manufacturer BMW and fashion house designer Louis Vuitton formed a brand partnership campaign called 'The Art of Travel'. Both of these brands share similar values, as both operate in the travel and luxury business worlds and they're also both well known for their high-quality craftsmanship. During this partnership, BMW developed a sports car model called the BMW i8 and Louis Vuitton designed an exclusive, four-piece set of suitcases and bags to fit perfectly on the car's back parcel shelf. The design and appearance of the Louis Vuitton luggage set also perfectly complemented BMW's image.

Doritos and Taco Bell

The Doritos Locos Taco from both Doritos and Taco Bell is an example of a successful ingredient brand partnership. This partnership involved the combination of Taco Bell's crunchy taco recipe with a Doritos shell to give a special, signature twist. The two brands wanted the shell to remain as close to the original as possible, which involved using the original corn masa recipe, alongside the distinct nacho cheese dust coating. This partnership resulted in a successful product that sold over 100 million units in its first 10 weeks on the market.

Hershey and Betty Crocker

The partnership between the confectionery company Hershey's and Betty Crocker is a classic example of an ingredient brand partnership. In this example, Hershey confectionery products have featured alongside Betty Crocker baking mixes and frostings for years with great success. This brand partnership campaign has created some of the most popular baking mixes featured in retail outlets.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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