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The dos and don’ts of brand collabs

Technology has bred a world of instant gratification – one in which, any product consumers want is immediately available, explains Michael Patent, the founder and president of Culture Group.

As a direct consequence, scarcity and uniqueness, and not available, is often a motivator for Gen Z and Millennials. The less available and more unique the product is, the more it is desired.

This demand and hysteria it creates are called ‘Hype’. Hype is a bona fide business builder – and when collabs are done right, they can turn product ‘moments’ into brand ‘movements’. If that’s what you’re aiming for, here are some Dos and Don’ts before embarking on your next creative collaboration.

The Dos

1) Start with why

Identify the sweet spot between what you want to achieve for your business and how you want to engage consumers. Understanding whether you are looking to shift, lift or enhance your brand’s perception and overall sales is key. A successful collaboration will impact your business and brand far beyond the product’s actual revenue, so tying the collaboration back to clear business and brand objectives is a must.

2) Let go

When choosing your partner, ask yourself whether they have: 1) a unique creative vision, 2) a functional or emotional tie to your audience, and 3) the ability to enhance your brand’s desirability among the target market. Remember the importance of ‘partnership’ in creative collaboration – in order to align on vision and ability, you will have to make some compromises. Be prepared to loosen your brand guidelines – if you had all the answers you’d be doing it yourself, right?

3) Maximise the drop

Every product release (the ‘drop’) has the potential to establish what we call a brand moment. Done successfully, this can be amplified into a cultural movement. When planning the product drop, consider whether your brand wants a limited release or large footprint – this will help create the right strategy to drive hype. If you have selected the right partner, the collaboration will deliver value to the consumer, while staying authentic to your brand.

4) Amplify and extend

New partnerships can open up growth opportunities by appealing to entirely new audiences or increasing consideration among your existing consumers. Every extension to a collaboration or new release will drive buzz by providing exclusive content that generates social conversations. These conversations influence actions, reactions and transactions, which increase sales, loyalty and engagement with your brand.

The Don’ts

1) Don’t confuse licensing and sponsorship for collaboration

Brands are presented with opportunities for licensing and sponsorship all the time. A true creative collaboration goes well beyond simple badging, branding or name + likeness licensing and involves a creative process that puts culture at its core. Be mindful of this to ensure success.

2) Don’t be a rip-off

In true collaborative partnerships, an in-depth understanding of your audience and an amazing product will generate demand. Don’t base your approach on case studies or past collaborations – the objective of your partnership should be to forge new ground, not replicate what’s been done elsewhere. Consumer behaviour and cultural trends should inform your approach, not the efforts of other like-minded brands.

3) Don’t blindly partner your brand with another

Brand partnerships are far more complicated than just pairing one brand with another. One of the most important factors is whether the potential partners have the right chemistry. If positive, a brand collaboration can give your brand credibility, access to new customers, and unique experiences that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to deliver.

4) Don’t forget why

The path to brand collaboration can be long and winding – ideation, strategy, creative concepts, product design, mutual agreement and a joint marketing plan. When in doubt, don’t forget to always go back to the ‘why’. If you’ve got a solid foundation and clear objectives, you’ll be on the path to collaborative success.

The dynamics of how consumers value brands and the products they make are changing rapidly – staying innovative and fluid in this environment ensures your brand will be positioned for success in the culture economy.

Michael Patent is the founder and president of Culture Group

Article adapted from The Drum Post.