Two hands reaching towards each other

Unlikely partnerships, they’re everywhere. Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson. Taylor Swift and Ice Spice. Julia Fox and Velveeta. You name it. But what each of these dynamic duos have in common is unparalleled success.

Whether in TV ratings, Spotify streams, or hair-care sales, each out-of-the-box teamup has proven that it truly does take two to tango. Which is confirmed time and time again with odd pairings in the marketing world. So let’s dive into the intricacies of brand-boosting partnerships.

But why?

Before jumping right into the who, what, when, where, and how, it’s crucial to touch on the why. As with most marketing questions, the answer comes back to the audience. And partnerships are no exception — whether it’s through co-branding, affiliate marketing, or celebrity endorsement. Collaborative efforts impact four core areas of your business:

  1. Brand Reach – Collaborating with well-known names exposes you to a new audience while expanding your reach to new locations and more diverse demographics.
  2. Cost Effectiveness – Co-branding in particular means splitting the expense of campaign development — while, usually, increasing budget.
  3. Customer Loyalty – Reputation matters, and working alongside trusted names in the industry solidifies your brand’s name in the eyes of consumers.
  4. Increased Sales – Wider reach plus reinforced customer loyalty equals extra revenue and more sales overall.

Proceed with caution

As with all golden opportunities, risk factors are always prevalent. So keep a few things in mind when choosing how you go about partnering.

First and foremost, bizarre and daring doesn’t always mean good. Often, whacky ideas are perceived by audience members as offbeat, impractical, illogical, even cringey. The latter part, usually found evident in TikTok-style influencer, affiliate, and partnership ads.

Secondly, choose the right fit. When signing on to do a campaign with another brand or even an individual, it’s crucial that your brand values align. In the past, brands like Adidas and LEGO have seen fallouts with brands and celebrities over conflicting morals and public backlash. Which in some cases led to a significant profit decrease.

Finally, don’t neglect messaging. A cool idea and vibrant creative can only take a brand so far. If the messaging falls flat, feels inauthentic, or clashes with the brand values, the collaboration loses all legitimacy.

Ben & Jerry's branded Nike shoe in front of a pint of ice cream

Take note

Now let’s talk about the how of partnerships. Here are some tips to get started on finding the right collaboration.

  1. Partner choice and values – As briefly discussed above, staying cognizant of brand values and being selective in your pairing process are vital to a successful campaign.
  2. Do the research – Study past examples. Use them as inspiration for dos and don’ts. Take a look at successes like Nike x Ben & Jerry’s “Chunky Dunky” shoes — which now resell for up to $4,000. And research why some collabs flopped — like Pepsi x Kendall Jenner.
  3. Evaluate, learn, reevaluate – Once the campaign is launched and results are in, collect feedback. And listen to it. Learn what your partner did or didn’t like, hear what consumers are saying, and review objectives. Then, use the data to your advantage: tweak creative or messaging as needed, reevaluate audience needs, and don’t be afraid to keep pushing boundaries.

Have you ever considered collaborating with a marketing agency? MKR would love to become your brand’s unlikely partner. Let’s chat!