There are many reasons companies choose to co-brand. It could be seen as a powerful way of introducing one company’s products/services to another. Or, it could enable one brand to benefit from the ‘halo of affection’ of their partner company.
Co-branding also saves your company money, which is something that cannot be taken lightly in times like these. In some cases, companies even pair up so that they can charge a premium for their product or service.
Not Just For The Huge Companies!
Co-Branding isn’t just for huge national or international companies. Small businesses may have problems linking up with larger national/international companies, but there’s an increasing number of off the shelf co-branding opportunities between businesses, such as those developed by credit card companies.
There are also bound to be dozens of custom co-branding partners for any type of small business either in your local geographic area or a national vertical market. But you need to think creatively about products/services that complement yours in a way that will enhance the appeal or credibility of your offering.
Generating ideas is the first place to start. Think about other types of company that do a good job serving your target market. You may even ask your customers to identify other companies they do business with to see if you come across any patterns.
Co-branding is not riskless! First of all, it tends to have a dilutive effect as it spreads the credit for positive experience across two brands as opposed to one. Therefore, if, for some reason, you end up losing money – even if it wasn’t your company’s fault – it may reflect badly on you. Also, while in a well-conceived co-branding programme in the whole should be greater than the sum of the parts, you also must consider that to some extent you’re relying on another brand’s equity, which can sometimes make your brand look weak or secondary.
Therefore, it’s important to consider your own co-branding principles before entering into it. Develop guidelines that are right for your business and will allow you to objectively assess opportunities that arise. Many large companies have set out formal guidelines for this purpose.
Though your criteria may differ based on what’s most appropriate for your situation, ‘fit’ should be your main consideration. Many brands share similar characteristics, but no two are exactly the same. Look for brands that fit from the perspective of attributes and benefits as well as those with the same respect and core values as your company.
Examine existing co-branding examples and ask yourself how well they fit together and why, then seek companies and ask them to share their co-branding guidelines. Decide which of these fit with your company and, once in place, brainstorm potential partners who may be a good match, taking into account benefits of linking with them from both companies’ perspectives. Then put together a proposal and send it to them.
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