How to Curate a Brand Partnership
Understanding how to curate a brand partnership is fast becoming a vital competitive strategy for businesses. Here’s how to get it right.
Brand partnerships are one of the premier value propositions in the partnerships strategy playbook, and they’re going to become increasingly indispensable if your company is going to stay ahead of the game.
Businesses are discovering that brand partnerships are critical to unlocking new sources of revenue, and accessing customer segments that were previously unheard of for their traditional competitive market space.
However, in many other markets businesses, brand partnerships are helping static companies blossom, and partnerships pros are getting increasingly more quirky and creative with their brand partners.
Discovering new value often means thinking outside of the box, and in recent years we’ve seen successful brand partnerships between bedfellows as strange as Warby Parker and Arby’s, and Covergirl and Lucasfilms. There have even been a few borderline salacious moves like Tinder and Ford partnering over picking up your date in a Mustang. (Amazing, btw)
As the boundaries of what’s possible and profitable continue to stretch, how to conceptualize and curate a brand partnership is going to become an increasingly critical skill for partnerships leaders.
Feeling like you’re hanging out to dry? No problem. Firneo’s team of experts are here to make sure you’re not left twisting in the wind when it comes to curating brand partnerships. Here’s all you need to get started.
What Exactly is a Brand Partnership?
If you’ve spent a week in brand partnerships, you know how nuanced and confusing all the terminology can be. It takes time to get up to speed, but we can clear this up for you right now.
Brand partnerships are strategic agreements between two companies to use each others’ brand value to enhance their own. There are many reasons companies might do this.
Companies might seek a co-branding partnership to add credibility and value to a product, or increase brand awareness when entering a new market space. For instance, Apple wanted to access the sport watch market with their Apple Watch, but consumers didn’t really perceive it as such. The solution? Co-brand the watch with Nike for credibility with the sports-oriented crowd.
Enhance Brand Prestige
Sometimes accessing a new market is a vertical, rather than a horizontal move. Brand partnerships are an opportunity for companies to enhance their mutual status, which in turn elevates their value in the eyes of consumers and potential partners.
Tennis racquet producer Babolat’s reputation went from an insiders-only manufacturer to one of the most recognizable icons of tennis exceptionalism after becoming the weapon of choice for clay court demigod Rafael Nadal.
And what event is most associated with tennis aristocracy? Wimbledon. Babolat and Wimbledon’s royal brand wedding became official in 2022.
Develop Marketing Channels
Brand partnerships can be as simple as developing new marketing inroads with customer segments who might be interested in your products but just don’t know who you are.
A spectacular and fascinating example is the “brand” partnership between ASOS and GLAAD. ASOS opened its doors in 2000, and its flashy, urban style and film-oriented clothing targeted trendy young adults. In 2017 ASOS reached out to GLAAD with a simple partnership proposition: we’ll put our brand on the table to promote the cause if you help us build brand credibility with the gay and lesbian community.
Outside the box? Yep, but it’s been extremely fruitful. Sales from the Together Movement’s collection has raised over £200k for LGBTQIA+ issues around the globe.
Curating a Brand Partnership for Max Value
Because curating a brand partnership is more subjective than, say, tech partnerships or channel partnerships that focus on building tangible things, keeping your mind open is critical. When considering your potential brand partners in the ecosystem, remember the following:
Your stakeholders will be your spirit guides when determining what a brand partner can do for you. Marketing will tell you where the product is underperforming, and sales can tell you what’s missing. Leadership will guide you on the big-picture vision, and what market space they envision the brand occupying in the future.
As a partnerships leader, your job is to listen, listen, listen, synthesize the opinions, and then look to your partner pool for inspiration.
Thinking Outside the Box
It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, but one of the most important rules in partnerships is this: value is priority number 1.
That Tinder/Ford brand partnership probably provoked a lot of pointed questions in board rooms on both sides, but in the end, if a partnership makes dollars it probably makes sense.
Doing what’s easy and comfortable is a good way for a partnerships pool to stagnate. If you want to unlock new value, help your company, and advance your career as a partnerships visionary, you’re going to have to get used to looking through the lens of value above all else and following the path it reveals.
Value for the Ecosystem
A common oversight when you’re new to partnerships is thinking only in terms of the value written in the partnership agreement. Signing on the dotted line is a thrill, but in many regards the work is just beginning.
Partnership ecosystems require constant maintenance and attention to develop, and that’s achieved by attracting new candidates through communicating your partnerships successes. Partner marketing is a huge part of the job, and if you do it well, eventually you won’t have to go looking for them. They’ll come looking for you!
Becoming a Partnerships Expert with Firneo
Figuring out how to curate a brand partnership when you’ve just landed your first partnerships position can be daunting. Believe us. We know because we’ve been there.
Our team at Firneo has been in the partnerships business for years, and we know how frustrating and anxious it can be when you feel like you don’t have the tools for the job. That’s what we’re here for. At Firneo, we’re committed to teaching you everything that nobody told you in school about partnerships, so you can become the brand partnerships leader you know you can be.
Visit Firneo to discover how you can unlock partnerships value for your company and your career.
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Interview with an Expert: Barrett King
Partnerships expert Barrett King explains how to train for partnerships, and what skills you will need to excel.