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Co-Branding: The art of growing together

Co-Branding: The art of growing together

On 21 June 2017, KFC redefined the term “product launch,” when they promoted their new spicy Zinger chicken sandwich by claiming to have launched it – literally – into space!

With the help of NASA-affiliated scientists, KFC attached one of its chicken sandwiches to a high-altitude balloon and launched it from Tucson, Arizona, to a height of 15 miles above the ground. Although sceptics argue that KFC laying claim to a “space sandwich” was misleading (apparently, the edge of space is approximately 62 miles above ground level), the publicity stunt still had the desired effect – everyone was talking about KFC!

When it comes to business, two is always better than one

Co-branding such as this is a marketing strategy and advertising alliance between two brands wherein the success of one brand brings success to its partner brand, too. Two brands which come together, share their goodwill and thus implicitly endorse the new product. For example, HCG Ramaiah Cancer Centre, a collaboration between Ramaiah Memorial Hospital and Healthcare Global Enterprises (HCG) has been an effort to provide the best cancer care in the country. Both entities have given their share of goodwill and introduced respective customer base to the new entity. 

Co-branding can be an effective way to increase revenue streams, boost brand awareness, and break into new markets. 

What makes a great brand collaboration?

Simply put, for two brands to come together there should be an authentic “meeting of the minds”. The product or service between the collaborators needs to complement each other’s price, value perception, target market and promotional channels.

In 2012, Red Bull and Go Pro teamed up for the event “Stratos” which featured Australian Skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumping from a helium balloon 24 miles above the earth. During the jump, Baumgartner broke three world records, shattered the sound barrier, and used a Go Pro camera to capture everything. The event was wildly popular and a successful project for both Red Bull and Go Pro.

Not all co-branding efforts focus on a flashy, expensive product. For its partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, BuzzFeed produced what it does best: Viral content. By sharing a video of Emma Watson playing with kittens, they helped many feline friends find their forever homes.

Co-branding has resulted in many successful collaborations of companies through the years. In India, across sectors, co-branding has yielded great results. Co-branded credit cards from LG and SBI, ICICI and HPCL, Air-Sahara and Standard-Chartered Bank, HSBC and Star India Bazaar, are testimony that co-branding has spread across to all possible business sectors in India.

Project Drishti, an initiative between Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and the National Association for the Blind (NAB), has restored sight to over 5,000 people from the underprivileged segment of society. Reliance, being the leader it is and NAB, an NGO known for its selfless service, together help build trust and brand awareness.

‘Uber’ & ‘Spotify’ collaborated to create unique playlists for the travellers while taking Uber trips. ‘Snapchat’ partnered with the payments firm ‘Square’ to launch a new feature called ‘Snapcash’, that allows Snapchat users to send money to their loved ones instantly through the app!

So, the key benefits –

A.   Builds trust - If a consumer trusts the brand that you partner with, and has had good experiences with their company, they figure they'll have a good experience with the new product/service too.

B.   Adds value - Since there are two or more stakeholders involved, each bringing something unique to the table, consumers find extra value in the product or service.

C.  Generates buzz - When reputed brands partner, there's usually some buzz that surrounds the partnership in the form of media activity. 

Many brands seek dependable, cooperative partners to capitalize on brand awareness and grow their franchised networks. Co-branding can be an excellent way to grow a company without having to make a major investment in resources or create expensive marketing campaigns. It creates a “best-of-both-worlds” relationship where each business benefits from the reputation, image, and customer base of the other. While companies can mutually work on understanding the core strengths of each other, a good co-branding exercise needs an efficient agency which can create synergy with its design and media assets to generate the required buzz in the market.