The right strategic partnership can be make-or-break in today’s complex business environment, and it’s no mystery that some of the most successful companies out there are also some of the biggest partnership champions. They don’t always get it right (see: Square and Starbucks), but when they do it shifts the tectonic plates of competition and redraws the maps we’re using to navigate commerce.Strategic partnerships are about aligning stakeholders in all departments on both sides of the aisle behind a common goal to create maximum value in the marketplace. It’s a challenging task for a partnerships leader, and finding the right strategic partners requires neutrality and patience while all the important players align.These 3 strategic partnership examples demonstrate what’s possible when companies know what they’re looking for, align themselves in vision and strategy, and do the hard work of constructing a future together to take their brands to the next level.

Omega and Privateer

If you’re into watches, you know the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional is one of the most recognizable timepieces on this planet and off it. When Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface in ‘69 one of these was velcroed to his wrist. Plus, the electrically crippled Apollo 13 reentry burns had to be hand-timed with the Speedy’s anti-magnetic, high-precision chronograph while the entire world watched live on television. The Omega/NASA partnership is amazing, but it’s also slowly dating itself. Apollo was a long time ago, and staking out territory as the only watch in space requires constant refreshing. In 2021 Omega released a new edition of the Moonwatch with a significant boost in price, but its lunar luster needed waxing. Privateer, on the other hand, is the company on the back end of all those moon missions. Their whole gig is mapping everything in orbit from Shatner’s toenail clippings to space stations so future launches don’t crash into them. It’s a hugely important challenge for the industry, but unfortunately, it’s also pretty unglamorous. Privateer was looking for some higher profile cred for the papers, and Omega’s new piece needed a space-lift. But how to partner? Fortunately, they had one important thing in common: an extreme dedication to precision. With that little bit of glue, Omega and Privateer were able to align their stakeholders behind the value each brings to the other’s brand. Everyone from top to bottom understood how increased precision mattered in their respective roles, and it created, as Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann observed “a great synergy between OMEGA and Privateer. We share an obsessive attention to detail.”  The Omega/Privateer partnership  is a great example of how powerful a shared value can be for creating alignment in strategic partnerships. If it’s something every stakeholder understands and values in both companies, it’s an ideal lens for shaping the partnership.

Tinder and Lyft

You just right-swiped each other thirteen seconds ago and you know you want to hook up. Excellent. But no one has a car.It’s an existential crisis that the Lyft/Tinder partnership is going to fix for you both right now. Tinder has included an optional feature on their app where one person can hail a ride share for the other, and Lyft will do the driving. The idea was dreamt up when Tinder noticed during lockdown that Gen-Zers—half their client base, btw—weren’t right-swiping like they used to. Messaging was up, but there was a general hesitancy to meet in person. Tinder explored some options, and when restrictions were lifted it was clear they needed some chemistry. For Lyft, well, the lockdown squeeze was all over the news. Both companies were searching for ways to increase customer usage in the post-COVID environment, and in all cases it meant encouraging people to get together again. Partnership: go. Tinder integrated the Lyft option to the Explore hub, and Lyft integrated new tracking and payment software into their driver systems to make it seamless and easy to understand for their drivers. This strategic partnership is a win/win for both companies who were able to gain access to a new customer base while creating value in the marketplace. If you’re looking to be a partnerships leader, this is a great example of product integration as a way to access stakeholder value.

Red Bull and GoPro

Red Bull realized early on that the energy drink business is all about image. That’s why they crafted their brand around extreme sports, and all they needed to sell this new perspective was a tech startup with, well, a new perspective. Cue GoPro. Mountain Dew and Red Bull had been duking it out over X sports promotions, and in 2013 the Dew Tour partnered with GoPro rival Ion to bring a new look to the extreme beverage documentation arena. It was clear that GoPro and Red Bull might need to get serious, so in 2016 they formalized their on-and-off dating with a formal proposal. In exchange for GoPro equity, Red Bull made them their exclusive film and content producer for all 1800 live events. The realization about how to align all the stakeholders was ultimately very simple: at the end of the day, energy drink buzzes and filming crazy stunts are two sides of the same coin. Everyone was already behind that idea. In many cases, the right strategic partnership is as simple as formalizing what you already know to shape the marketplace of tomorrow. The result?  Red Bull and GoPro are the undisputed heavyweight champions of filming caffeine-addled extreme sports fury. Wiiings, bro. Wiiings.

Becoming a Strategic Partnerships Leader with Firneo

Finding the perfect strategic match for your stakeholders can feel like alchemy when you’ve just landed a new career in partnerships. So nobody showed you the ropes or gave you strategic partnership examples to model? No sweat. Firneo’s got you covered. We’re experts in partnerships, and we can fill in all blanks about what they are, how to form them, and how to keep them running smoothly so you can maximize value for your stakeholders. Master the art and science of building smart, valuable partnerships, and watch your career take off.  Join Firneo’s community of partnerships leaders today, and sign up for our exclusive Jan. 2023 partnerships cohort.

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