The do’s & dont’s of co-branding

The do’s & dont’s of co-branding

Keeping up with the Joneses is a thing. ‘Tis true, brands are judged by the company they keep. We all know that Dr Pepper Lipsmackers were a sure fire success, and that co-branding is being used increasingly by companies of all sizes and locations to increase brand recognition, awareness and sales.

When in tip-top shape, these collaborations make brands seem cooler, more modern, more distinctive, more conscious, more whatever it is that they’re are sourcing from their partner… Think of it like hanging out with your hipster pal – you instantly suck some street cred right out of their skin just by being next to them.

But how do you make sure your brand is getting the most out of the collaboration and ensure that the co-brand isn’t killing your vibe?

Here’s a few suggestions from my neck of the woods…

    If you’re a newcomer to the collab-space, it can feel a bit daunting to assert yourself against a well established business Goliath. It’s important to remember that a collaboration is a two-way street, you might be new to the game, but its takes two to tango and your partner can’t dance without you. Take the time to get super clear on how you want your business positioned in the co-brand, what you’re willing to sacrifice and what your absolute non-negotiables are. Ensure that you state clearly your objectives and don’t get bullied into compromising your brand.
    The more the merrier, right?! Well, not always. If you feel that your collab partner isn’t playing fair, and your logo is looking more like a lost needle in a haystack that an assertive partner of the game, then trust your gut and have the confidence to either speak up or moonwalk the hell outta there. It’s important to listen to your gut vibes early on in the piece, it will tell you whether this co-brand is going to sink or swim right from the get-go.
    It’s important to share with your partner specific requests and suggestions about how your two brands should work together. Give them the low-down about how your brand is normally presented to the public and always, always share your style guides with each other. Don’t compromise on low-res imagery, the quality of your paper stock, the typography of your newsletter, or anything else that is your signature scent – even if it’s coming from your partner’s side of town, make sure that it aligns with your brand aesthetics.
    Maintaining your brand integrity should be numero uno on your priorities list. Remember that more than likely, you are exposing your brand to an entirely new market or territory – first impressions are like gold nuggets dipped in diamonds and caressed by Taylor Swift’s honey-smoked voice, you don’t want to miss out on that! Up your quality control game and ensure that nothing gets signed off on or sent to print without your dubious eyes. Everything that you’re putting out to the world as a collective is a reflection of you.No matter what kind of collaboration or co-branding activity you’re embarking on, its important to make sure you’re maxing out your returns, whether it’s the kudos of associating yourself with a hip start-up, a chance to reach a new market, or even the opportunity to just look damn fine by supporting socially conscious brands.

This post was originally written for the fine folk over at Collabosaurus.


  1. Lee says:

    Great advice, thank you!

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