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 about co-branding examples? Let’s get started.
Download this post by entering your email below
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 with each other. For example, the 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 13 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.
1. Dr. Pepper + Bonne Bell
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.
2. Ford + Harley Davidson
The Harley-Davidson line of Ford Trucks was produced from 2000 to 2011 with too much acclaim.
However, there’s a distinct reason why this pairing made tons of sense.
Both brands have a key male demographic who is 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.
3. Pottery Barn + Sherwin-Williams
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 the 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.
4. Kanye West + Adidas
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.
5. Starbucks + Spotify
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.
6. Taco Bell + Doritos
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.
7. Amazon + Kohls
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.
8. Go Pro + Red Bull
When it comes to compatible brands, Go Pro and Red Bull definitely seem like a match made in heaven.
Neither brand is just about the products they sell. They’re both about lifestyles that personify adventure, determination, action, and fearlessness.
As a result, their Stratos campaign is among the best, most successful co-branding examples out there.
Stratos found Australian skydiving sensation Felix Baumgartner donning a GoPro before undergoing a record-breaking jump from a space pod situated 24 miles above the planet’s surface.
This incredible feat perfectly illustrates the concepts both sponsoring brands are about.
9. Apple + Mastercard
Great co-branding examples aren’t always just about advertising a specific product or service. Sometimes iconic brands come together to create something truly useful to their respective audiences.
Apple Pay — the iconic product of a partnership between Apple and Mastercard — completely changed the way consumers pay for goods and services.
It allows users to store their payment methods of choice on their smartphones, making it possible to pay for things without also having to carry a physical card.
Apple Pay allowed Apple to continue delivering the tech-savviness its customers expect while also making Mastercard the first credit card company to let its users store their payment information using Apple Pay technology.
10. Uber + Spotify
The best co-branding partners don’t always need to occupy the same market in order to make beautiful music together.
The Soundtrack for Your Ride campaign from Uber and Spotify perfectly shows how two very different brands can work together to reach new customers.
During the campaign, Uber users received prompts to coordinate their pending riding experiences with their Spotify accounts, effectively allowing them to select the music they’d be listening to during their trip.
This partnership was a huge hit thanks to the way it allowed both Spotify and Uber users to enjoy better, more personalized experiences.
It also gave both customer bases an added incentive to choose these brands over the variety of other competitors out there.
11. CoverGirl + Lucasfilm
Star Wars is so much more than just a popular film franchise. It’s a global phenomenon, so the release of new material is always buzzworthy.
It also makes consumers everywhere hungry for tie-in merchandise that feeds their excitement.
When Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens dropped in 2015, Lucasfilm partnered with CoverGirl to fuel excitement about the release, and it was a match made in heaven.
The Light Side and Dark Side makeup campaign gave cosmetics lovers and Star Wars fans alike a chance to channel their inner Jedi or Sith using beautiful, creative makeup options from makeup artist Pat McGrath.
12. Burger King + McDonald’s
Solid co-branding examples can even come from brands that are in direct competition with each other.
This is exactly what happened when McDonald’s and Burger King teamed up for 2019’s Day Without a Whopper campaign.
And what exactly inspired these two burger giants to work together instead of competing with one another? McDonald’s was running a fund-raising drive for children’s cancer charities at the time. Every Big Mac purchased during the drive meant $2 donated to these charities.
Burger Kings in several countries participated by removing their famous Whopper from the menu for one day to encourage customers to purchase a Big Mac in support of charity instead.
Naturally, this got customers talking about (and loving) both burger chains even more than usual.
13. Levi’s + Pinterest
Levi’s name is practically synonymous with the idea of blue jeans, while Pinterest is the social media platform to beat when it comes to creating image collections like lookbooks.
They came together in perfect harmony to launch the Styled by Levi’s campaign.
Users enjoyed a personalized styling experience that offered fashion suggestions based on personal taste and style preferences.
Levi’s got to take advantage of Pinterest’s uniquely visual audience, while Pinterest elevated the user experience with cutting-edge digital personalization.
Partnering with another company to create a co-branding campaign is an excellent strategy to build better awareness, increase buzz, and combine resources.
The co-branding examples we’ve provided are where corporations have made this process work, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a huge retailer to try out co-branding.
One crucial step towards co-branding is ensuring that your website content is of high quality, leaving a positive impression on potential partner companies.
To help you with that, there’s WriterAccess, our content creation marketplace that can connect you with experienced writers and level up your content quality.
Why not give WriterAccess a try today? Sign up now and get 14 days of free access to our network of expert writers. Discover for yourself what great content can do for your business!