Partnerships are fairly straightforward, even for the non-marketer. At the most fundamental level, one brand partners with another to achieve a mutually beneficial goal. It could be a donation to raise awareness of a cause, or on the other end of the spectrum, a multi-channel, multi-year, multi-million-dollar endeavor.
The concept is simple enough, but what factors should be considered to ensure that a partnership is worthwhile for both partners?
For what is perhaps the most important consideration in fostering brand partnerships, ensuring value alignment is surprisingly overlooked. Partnerships that may make sense in theory can fall flat when there is a lack of authenticity, and vice versa.
Partnerships that at first seem unusual make complete sense when you realize they are built around shared values. For example, Adidas and Ikea’s partnership that launched this summer. Ikea partners with many brands and artists, but the combination of a furniture store and fitness brand struck many as surprising or incongruous. That is, until you hear the aim: combining Ikea and Adidas’ respective expertise—home and fitness—to make it easier for people to work out at home.
Adidas believes that “through sport [it has] the power to change lives,” while Ikea aims to “help more people live a better life at home.” And so it becomes clear how these two companies fit as brand partners and how consumers will benefit from this creative collaboration.
Ensuring value alignment is the first step and will make outlining goals even easier. There needs to be a reason to work with a partner that goes beyond how cool you think they are, and you need to align on goals early in the partnership. It’s also important to realize that not every partnership needs to be massive in scale in order to have an impact. Even without substantial scope, a partnership that results in expanded brand awareness is valuable. It’s also worthwhile to consider working with a smaller partner that has a highly engaged audience to focus on targeted conversion. There are no partnerships too big or too small to be considered in pushing you (and your partner’s) mission forward.
The best partnerships make every dollar count, and the best partners will exchange more than just money. This could be an exchange of goods, services or even brand equity. If your brand is small and doesn’t have the funds to offer money, think of ways you can leverage your unique brand offerings. Working with strategic partners that are smaller than your own brand affords you the perfect opportunity to test out different means of compensation and exchange, whether that means collaborating on custom content or expanding the channels of the partnership. Today’s technology affords us more ways than ever to be creative, which is something we should take advantage of and sometimes amplification can be just as valuable as monetary compensation.
Partnerships are about far more than shared demographics and innovative ideas. At the root of any successful partnership, you will always find aligned values and missions. Once you have those crucial details in place, you can—and should—be as creative as you want in pinpointing goals and ironing out what is being exchanged. By ensuring the proper framework, you might just find yourself exploring an unexpected partnership and reaching a whole new audience.