Dive into the world of collaborative marketing, a strategy uniting brands for innovation, targeted campaigns, and social impact. From Fortnite x Balenciaga, to Doritos x Burger King, there have been some iconic moments delivered to us through brand collaboration.
We’re here to explore the idiom of brand collaborations and learn the keys to its success – plus some exciting examples of recent collaborative marketing campaigns.
What is Collaborative Marketing?
Collaborative marketing involves bringing like-minded businesses together, aligning their interests, and sharing resources for a collective goal. Often referred to as co-branding, collaborative marketing imposes extended reach, a greater brand exposure, higher quality leads, and more.
The process starts with a common purpose or ideology. If two brands share a similar goal, or if they share a common audience, a partnership between the two brands would help to reach that shared goal. Collaborative marketing can be as simple as co-produced social media content, or it can be on a much larger scale with brands uniting to create campaigns or exclusive products.
Where does influencer marketing intersect with collaborative marketing?
Influencer can be the shared channel in which collaborative campaigns intend to reach a target audience. For example, two brands may opt to partner with creators in order to reach a specific community, or to leverage their creative talents. Injecting influencers into collaborative marketing is a potent strategy that acts as a bridge to wider audiences through their endorsements and creative content.
The Benefits of Collaborative Marketing
The meeting of minds is often more influential than working in isolation. Had computer scientists, Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf, not collaborated to invent the internet, you wouldn’t be reading this collaborative marketing 101 right now.
It’s no surprise then, that Collaborative marketing is a powerful tool available to brands today, offering a myriad of benefits including:
Developing a creative synergy
When brands combine their creative forces it can lead to innovative and groundbreaking campaigns that individual businesses might not achieve alone. This also helps if brands from different niches decide to combine their expertise to find the median. You could have a brand from the beauty sector combining with a fashion brand to create a targeted, yet dynamic creative strategy, enhancing the reach and exposure of both parties.
Targeted and segmented campaigns
With collaborative efforts, it’s possible for brands to create more targeted and specific marketing campaigns by leveraging each partner’s understanding of their audience. For example a tech brand with decades of experience in its niche may collaborate with a gaming brand, due to the audiences sharing similar values, and to access one another’s understandings of their respective industries.
A problem shared is a problem halved
Whatever problems your brand is experiencing, bringing in an external partner can help to alleviate and provide a solution. Collaborating allows brands to share valuable customer data and insights, as well as allowing for more adaptability in campaigns. Collaborative marketing often extends beyond financial resources, involving shared creative teams, technology, or even physical assets that lead to more efficient operations.
Campaigning for change
Social impact and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives make up a large portion of collaborative marketing activations. Bringing brands together for these initiatives enables both parties to appeal to socially conscious consumers, and solidify their stance across various causes. Activating around social causes shows consumers that brands care about more than just their latest line of products, ultimately boosting brand image and community impact.
3 Iconic Brand Collaboration Examples
Now let’s take a look at collaborative marketing in action. These x examples showcase some of the best-in-class and most notable collaborations from the past year in marketing.
Dove x Nike: Building body confidence in sport
Unilever-owned personal care brand, Dove, is renowned for its social impact campaigns. Earlier this year, Dove launched a campaign to combat the popular TikTok ‘Bold Glamour’ filter, and support young women in the fight against unattainable beauty standards.
More recently, Dove has joined forces with athletic apparel and footwear superpower, Nike. The partnership focused on the number of teenage girls giving up on sport due to low body confidence. Dove launched a number of online resources available on its website, including a guide for parents on building young girls’ confidence in sport, a Dove x Nike body confident sport program, and a research project where Nike looked more in-depth at why girls were quitting sport.
The campaign also involved influencer partnerships across social media. On TikTok a blend of female athletes and momfluencers were challenged to raise awareness for the initiative, and use their platform to empower young girls to get into sport.
Adidas x Gucci: Designer sportswear
Adidas and Gucci first joined forces in 2022, and have continued into 2023, which could be a sign that the sneaker-focused collab will be a yearly occurrence.
Labeled the “ultimate fusion of sports and luxury”, the Adidas x Gucci collection is a product line blending the styles of both labels for those who want to elevate their style with iconic sport shoes and apparel.
What better way to raise the profile of the product line than by activating influencers across social. To promote its official launch, Adidas and Gucci activated TikToker, Francis Bourgeois, as well as a multitude of fashion and lifestyle creators across TikTok and Instagram.
The nature of these two fashion icons banding together proved immensely popular on social. The user-generated content across TikTok and Instagram was huge. Influencers, culture pages, and everyday users took to their social platforms to share their Adidas x Gucci experience, turning the campaign into a cultural phenomenon.
Crocs x Minecraft: Blending real-world and digital experiences
If you had to select footwear of the year, you’d have to put Crocs in that conversation. Who would have thought we’d be styling out with Crocs in 2023. The slip-on-and-go shoe has been sported by the likes of Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Priyanka Chopra. And, it’s not just Gen Z adopting the comfy footwear, even the likes of John Cena and Madonna love Crocs.
In early 2023, Crocs looked to establish more of a foothold in the footwear market by targeting one of the largest demographics in the digital world… gamers.
Which brings us to the collaboration between Crocs and Minecraft. In February 2023, Crocs and Minecraft announced a partnership that included a limited edition shoe release available to purchase IRL, and to wear in-game.
The experience also included two AR-themed games that were available to Crocs limited edition owners by scanning a charm on their shoes, and to non-owners via a scannable QR code located on the campaigns official landing page.
Crocs sent their limited edition footwear out to selected gaming creators to raise awareness for the collaborative product line.
What Makes a Successful Brand Collaboration?
Marketing collaborations can be a vital tool to bring together brands, artists or creators to reach a wider audience, generate excitement amongst consumers, or release a brand-new product line.
But, how can we determine collaborative marketing success, and what are the main considerations for brands looking to adopt this tactic? Here’s our top three considerations if you’re looking to partner up:
- Get on the same page
Perhaps the most important consideration for a collaborative marketing campaign is to ensure all parties are aligned on the vision and values, harmoniously. Aligning on the campaign goals should be done early on during ideation, and doing so will ensure all parties are working toward an outcome that resonates with all brand’s core values.
- Seek complementary skills and expertise
Successful marketing collaborations require complementary skills and expertise. This means each party should bring their own unique skill sets, which combine to create a more compelling outcome for customers. As a brand, you should look for an ideal partner that specializes in niches outside of your own. The idea is that by leveraging respective strengths, you can create a unique consumer experience. For ultimate collaborative marketing success, you should seek partners with expertise that aligns with your brand’s values, and also complements your team’s skills and expertise.
- Define clear roles and responsibilities
Whose responsibility is it to identify the right influencers? Who will ensure the creative brief is adhered to? It’s vital that each partner’s role and responsibility is defined clearly. This can alleviate any confusion or ambiguity around goals and helps to prevent campaign shortfalls. Clarity on each party’s role, responsibilities, and contributions within the campaign is vital to ensuring campaign success, as well as maintaining a balanced effort on all parts.
Partnering with influencer talent can also help brands bridge the gap between their current market, and one they perhaps have not explored. For example, if you’re a fashion brand you likely have little to no reach in the tech market. So, if you partner with a tech brand, and bring together influencers that are interested in one or both areas, it can help to bring your campaign to life, and to a new audience.
Unlocking the power of collaborative marketing
Collaborative marketing remains a dynamic strategy for brands seeking extended reach, innovative campaigns, and social impact. Like we’ve seen with Dove & Nike, Adidas & Gucci, and Crocs & Minecraft, the fusion of brands can lead to groundbreaking initiatives, offering targeted campaigns and shared solutions.
The essence of successful collaboration lies in aligning visions, leveraging complementary skills, and defining clear roles. By joining forces, brands not only enhance their creative synergy but also tap into new markets and contribute to social causes. In a world where shared endeavors amplify impact, collaborative marketing stands as a testament to the power of partnership in the realm of brand success.
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