There are certain things in life that just go together.
Coffee and cream. Peanut butter and jelly. Hearts and flowers.
Okay, so we’re getting a little corny with our examples. But they do prove one thing: sometimes, two are better than one.
With this in mind, co-branding can be a powerful way to create a tie between two companies that are great on their own, but excellent together.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the power of this strategy and why you might consider it for your digital branding plan.
We’ll also share with you a few of our favorite times when major companies paired up with another brand for spectacular results.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
What is Co-Branding?
Co-branding is when two or more brands come together to create a shared marketing campaign.
In some cases, this can also mean introducing a limited edition product that ties the companies together in some manner.
There are tons of ways that this has played out over the years.
Some make loads of sense, like GoPro and Red Bull pairing up to produce video content.
Others seem to come out of thin air and don’t seem to have a link between each other. For example, optical brand Warby Parker and fast-food chain Arby’s.
In some instances, co-branding is simply when a celebrity with a huge brand platform links their audience with loyal buyers of a product, such as what Kylie Jenner did with Pepsi.
There are numerous benefits to co-branding with another company.
For starters, similar audiences with a common underlying factor can come together to support both brands in a combined manner.
This often leads to better trust from their target market, increased overall recognition, and sometimes enough buzz to really create upward momentum for sales.
Depending on the strategy or the item, it might end up being a long-term partnership that can later work in favor of both companies.
The end result is cooperation that leverages the brand awareness, market demographics, and trust level of two companies into one while simultaneously pooling resources.
How Do You Know If a Co-Branding Partnership Was Successful?
Generally, a co-branding partnership is measured by how well the item or marketing campaign was received.
- Did your target market enjoy the product or experience?
- Or were the two brands so far apart that the whole idea didn’t make sense to consumers?
However, sales alone aren’t always the goal when it comes to co-branding.
Sometimes, companies merely want to create awareness, which is only measurable by metrics like website visits, opinion polls, and other data-centric tools.
Nonetheless, the ultimate test of a successful co-branding campaign is almost like that of a successful marriage — if both parties are happy, then you know it was good.
Top Co-Branding Examples
There have certainly been numerous instances where co-branding worked out well for both companies.
In fact, some are so highly memorable that you’ve probably tried the product yourself or at least remember when the campaign first started.
Here are a few of our favorite co-branding examples to inspire your business.
There probably isn’t a single woman who grew up in the United States in the 70s, 80s, or 90s that doesn’t remember Bonne Belle’s Dr. Pepper Lipsmackers lip balm.
What originally started as a co-branding campaign in 1975 is still going strong today.
The cosmetics company approached the soft drink manufacturer to create a line of lip balms.
The end result? A true hit with those of all ages.
In fact, the product is still available today and they’ve even added other flavors, like A&W Root Beer, Cherry 7UP, and Orange Crush.
The Harley Davidson line of Ford Trucks was produced from 2000 to 2011 to much acclaim.
However, there’s a distinct reason why this pairing made tons of sense.
Both brands have a key male demographic who are over the age of forty and have a significant income level. Meaning, they could afford both the brand new truck and the motorcycle to haul around.
In addition, Harley Davidson and Ford are both big names with decades of trust in the automotive world.
By bringing loyalists from both camps together, the brands were able to enjoy a successful co-branding experience.
The luxe furniture brand and high-end paint company first formed their partnership in 2013.
This was one that really worked for those in the marketing sphere and still remains fairly successful today.
The secret to this co-branding?
Those who buy furniture from Pottery Barn and sister brands like West Elm understand the importance of beautiful home furnishings.
In turn, they also have a desire to make their space look attractive, which requires quality wall paint provided by Sherwin-Williams.
The co-branding effort includes using special Sherwin-Williams paints in the background of Pottery Barn catalogs and store displays.
Likewise, the pain retailer keeps kiosks in stores with special hues marked as part of the Pottery Barn collection.
In 2013, rapper and entertainer Kanye West inked a deal with sports brand Adidas to create a line of footwear.
The result was a billion-dollar business that continues to thrive under the co-brand, Yeezy.
Part of West’s agreement is that he retains the rights to all designs and marketing, while Adidas handles the manufacturing and distribution.
The unique part about this co-branding example is that most people don’t even realize it’s a partnership. Rather, they think the celebrity just started his own shoe line.
Which is a good point to consider. Most celebrity endorsements or product lines are merely glorified co-branding wrapped up in a neat package to best relate to the stronger target customer base.
Have you ever been sitting in your local Starbucks location and heard a song you really loved in the background?
You can thank Spotify for the experience.
The two companies joined forces in 2015 to stream music in each of the thousands of company-owned stores throughout the United States.
In turn, Spotify keeps a special playlist to allow premium users to listen to their favorite coffeehouse tunes long after their last sip of java.
The end result is that both brands are able to provide entertainment to a like-minded consumer base, while also supporting independent artists and musicians.
What initially started out as a major gimmick ended up becoming a fan favorite.
The Doritos Locos Taco was launched at the Mexican fast-food chain in 2012.
Essentially, it is a taco supreme with a special shell made from the crispy orange chips everyone loves.
The end result was a huge hit and the specialty item is still on the menu today. In fact, the brands even launched a Cool Ranch version, too.
But Taco Bell is also no stranger to the co-branding experience. They’ve had other highly successful campaigns with companies like Mountain Dew, Playstation, and more.
In some cases, co-branding is more for logistics than actual sales increases.
A few years ago, Amazon added return centers to all Kohl’s department store locations within the United States.
This allowed shoppers to make in-person returns without having to package and ship the items back to the online retailer.
From a logistics standpoint, this works well for Amazon, as they only have to send a local delivery driver to one location to pick up items versus paying for a third-party shipping company.
In exchange, Kohl’s gets shoppers who walk through the door and just might see that must-have item on their way to the back of the store to make an Amazon return.
Wrap Up: Using Co-Branding to Grow Your Business
Partnering with another company to create a co-branding campaign is an excellent strategy to build better awareness, increase buzz, and combine resources.
The seven examples we’ve provided are all ways where corporations have made this process work, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a huge retailer to try out co-branding.
Our Brand Bundle Kit makes it easy to strategize your company’s campaigns, including the co-branding process. Make sure to check it!