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Co-Branded Retail

Cafes in department stores are nothing new. But hybrid retail is going to the next level with increasingly unique co-branding combinations. Co-branded ventures create unique customer experiences that expand the way we think about each of the companies involved. Oftentimes, the participating brands will be very different from one another, adding an element of surprise to the experience.

For example, Glossier and Rhea’s Café in San Francisco created a series of pop-up shops that combined socializing, eating and trying beauty products. Casper is an online mattress brand that partnered with West Elm, a high-end furniture retailer, to allow customers to actually try the mattresses in a bricks-and-mortar setting. Music-streaming app Spotify partnered with Uber to create "a soundtrack for your ride."

To make this work, there must be overlap in brand purpose, marketing goals and core customers. Take for example the partnership of two action-packed lifestyle brands: Go Pro portable cameras and Red Bull energy drinks. GoPro equips athletes and adventurers with the tools to capture their own adventures on video. Red Bull uses its experience and reputation to run and sponsor these athletic adventure events. “Stratos” was one particularly effective promotional collaboration in which Felix Baumgartner jumped from a space pod more than 24 miles above Earth's surface with a GoPro strapped to himself. Not only did Baumgartner set three world records that day, but he also embodied the value of re-imagining human potential that define both GoPro and Red Bull. Check out the inspiring video that now has over 19 million views:

So what? As a small business owner you may wonder how these global brands can be similar to your company. The fact is that there are co-marketing opportunities around you all the time. Solar companies can partner with water companies. Pool service companies can co-promote themselves with landscape companies. Beauty companies can stage events at wine bars, and the list goes on. The trick is to look for synergistic businesses with shared markets and similar values so partnership will add real value for your customers. Give it a try!


The Fine Print of Co-Branding

It’s important to keep in mind that co-branding isn’t just taking on another brand; it’s a business strategy that needs to be carefully considered and planned. Some things to keep in mind as you select a branding partner are:

  1. Do your research. Are both brands in demand in the same target market or location?

  2. Will your cultures mesh? Does your branding partner share similar management styles, philosophies and ways of operating? As with any close relationship, these considerations are important and should not be overlooked.

  3. Can you work as a team? Ideally, look for partners that are willing to assist you, be it with marketing, training or financial support. Like a good marriage, co-branding should be a partnership of mutual support.

  4. Are there any restrictions? You’ll also need to be aware of any agreements that may include rights, obligations and restrictions that are binding on both parties. Additionally, you’ll need to clarify confidentiality issues, licensing specifications, warranties, payments and royalties, indemnification, disclaimers and terms of termination through the use of legally binding documents.

Co-branding is a relationship between businesses where the sum is greater than each of the parts. With the many benefits that can be reaped from such an arrangement, from reduced risk to increased profits, co-branding could very well be a strategy to take your small business to the next level.

Excerpt from The American Express BusinessRoom


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