What makes for a (genuinely) successful brand collaboration?

What makes for a (genuinely) successful brand collaboration?

The art of a successful brand collaboration is like a really comprehensive game of match-making.

Sorry to break it to you (especially if you’ve just swiped right for the last time) but if you’re in the business of well, business, then there’s no escaping the constant search for the ideal partner.

We’re big advocates of two heads being better than one and any (decent) offer of collaboration makes us weak at the knees. There’s real magic to what can be produced with an open mind, a little fairy dust, and a good ol’ fashioned creative collab.

The word collaboration, often used as a buzzword, alongside a pretty loose and cringeworthy definition, but ultimately, it’s a mutually beneficial agreement where both brands bring their audiences together and take advantage of the each other’s success. It’s an effective tool to build the business, boost awareness, and break into new markets as well as introducing something new to your own audience. Here at Smack Bang, we believe it’s people who make a house feel like a home, and who make a workplace not feel like work. So for us, partnerships are an instrument to build our community in order for it to grow and thrive.

In the ultra-competitive world of advertising, brands are always looking for an edge that allows their product or service to stand out amongst the noise – that’s where your friendly neighbourhood collab comes into play.

Now, we could dive into the psychology behind the sneaky marketing ploy that is brand collaboration, but we’d be here all day. So, let’s break this down into a delicious bite-sized snack; On Instagram for example, you follow individuals (and brands) because you enjoy their content, right? Over time this turns into trust, which then turns into brand loyalty and authority. You begin to subconsciously value what they are selling – when they offer you their opinion on another brand or product,  you listen and respect that sentiment. Then, within minutes, you’re stuck in an Instagram hole, aimlessly scrolling through an awesome new feed you’ve ‘stumbled’ across because of this funny little thing called collaboration.

But how does one do this, you ask? Well, read on.

  1. Combine complementary services to enhance your customer experience
    Good partnerships, first and foremost, aim to serve society. So ask yourself; how can this collaboration improve the lives of our audience and enable a more personalised and unique experience? If we throwback to 2014, two innovative brands famously did just that – Uber passengers were given the ability to control the music during their commute via their very own Spotify app. Creating one of the most revolutionary, yet at the crux of it, very straightforward collaborations of our decade.
  2. Create a product that is exclusive to the collaboration
    It’s essential to align with other brands who share the same values and therefore similar customers, this will ensure your connection feels genuine and organic. If there’s one piece of advice you take away from all this, let it be the following; you don’t need to reach a massive amount of people—you just need to reach the right people. Take the clever team at Zulu Zephyr, who as part of their strategy, collaborate with a new brand every year. One that fits the ZZ lifestyle and in turn, create a product that is mutually exclusive to both their audiences. Take their collaboration with Lack of Colour, broadening both their audience and product offering to create a range of bespoke headwear.
  3. Reach a new audience
    What better way to reach a new audience than by harnessing the reputation of another brand? Take a leaf out of GoPro and RedBull’s book. Here we have two world-renowned companies that need not an introduction. Both have established themselves as lifestyle brands – a lifestyle that’s action-packed, adventurous, fearless, and typically pretty extreme. Their shared values make them a perfect match for co-branding campaigns, meaning these two brands are constantly pairing up in order to unite their community and audiences – especially those surrounding action sports.
  4. Combine two current trends together
    Here’s another hot tip for you; the consumer owns this world and holds the ultimate power, and reacting and moving at their speed is a fundamental pillar to success. Trends come and go in what seem like fleeting moments, so knowing when to capitalise on them is one mighty hard task. For example, combining the magic and whimsicality of Tess Guinery’s poetic and visual brand with linen brand Dazed but Amazed is genius. Through this collaboration, they were able to create the ultimate bedding experience for their audiences.
  5. Create of a revolutionary idea
    Here, we’re talking about a product or service that can only come to fruition through the means of collaboration. We’ve got a golden example lined up for you. Hint: it’s something you’re using on a daily basis and smaller than a phone, rectangular in shape and most likely sitting in your pocket as we speak. Any takers? No one? Did I see a hand up in the back? Well, folks, we’re talking about ApplePay. A once unimaginable collaboration between Apple and MasterCard that birthed a concept that the majority of us would be lost without – okay that’s a tad hyperbolic, but you get what we’re getting out.
  6. Create work on a different medium that showcases your work and values
    We’re now about to land in a brand paradox – brace yourselves. We’re a creative agency who has a strong focus on digital design. But it’s safe to say we are still print enthusiasts at heart. Typically all our work is displayed and engaged with online with consumers viewing it all via a little black box. Until, last year, we decided to create a print magazine. For us, Baskk is just an extension of the SBD brand, a tangible way in which the team can pour our lifestyle principles of living consciously, creatively and in connection with those around us.
  7. Create a new and memorable experience
    Ahh, Glossier, the beauty brand who can honestly do no wrong. Earlier in the year, the cult brand opened a pop-up within a San Fransisco fried-chicken shop (bear with us here)… Although this doesn’t sound very on brand, this place oozed all things Glossier. From pastel pink walls to old school diner bar stools. If you are looking to capture the famously short attention spans of millennials, take a page from Glossier’s book. Consumers are constantly making the switch to experiences over objects. Why? The best way to trigger your brand in your audience’s minds is to allow them to experience it all first-hand. Plus, who doesn’t love a good ‘gram opp?

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