How to Build a Consistent Strategy for Co-Branding Marketing Efforts
When it comes to establishing your brand strategy and maintaining consistency across retailers, co-branding may seem risky. But a PartnerPath study shows that more than two-thirds of customers can more easily make buying decisions in response to co-branded campaigns. When done correctly, the benefits of co-branding with your retailers far outweigh the drawbacks. So how do you ensure your strategy stays consistent in your co-branding marketing efforts? Here are four best practices we’ve learned through the years.
1. Set Strategic Brand Guidelines
A 2018 Reboot study showed that the use of a signature color in marketing materials increases brand recognition by 80 percent. Additionally, according to LucidPress, consistent brand presentation leads to a 33 percent increase in revenue. Clearly, the need for a controlled and consistent brand presentation is undeniable.
Work with your retail partners to establish concrete brand guidelines to govern the relationship so that both parties have a complete understanding of how each brand comes to life in both visual representation and in strategy.
- Who You Talk To - Share your buyer personas and target markets with your retail partners and encourage them to do the same. Identify common areas within your customer base and agree to focus your energies on those areas.
- How You Talk To Them - Discuss the tone, colors, images, and logos that will go into your visual presentation. Leave nothing open to interpretation—even something as simple as using too many hashtags can completely derail your desired brand message. Discuss company values and how present those will be in co-branded marketing materials—two-thirds of consumers trust brands more when the company’s values align with their own.
- When You Talk To Them - Compare your customer journey with that of your partners. Use the shared touchpoints in each path to purchase to identify the right times to take action. Use the retailer’s customer journey to inform your personas and paths to purchase.
2. Make Your Goals Clear
With multiple stakeholders, it’s easy for miscommunication to happen or for expectations to not be met. Clear communication from the beginning of the relationship is essential for both partners to derive the maximum possible benefit from co-branding.
- Align Your Goals - Determine what each party wants to get out of the relationship. Honesty and transparency are vital in terms of optimizing the relationship and building trust between partners.
- Create a Mutual Timeline - Map out your content strategy together. Decide what types of content you’ll both create, when it will be released, and how and to whom it will be promoted. Ensure this timeline meets the goals of both the brand and retailer.
- Determine Key Metrics - Agree on what success means for both you and your partner. Verify that success for one party does not adversely affect the other. Track and monitor these key metrics over time, and regularly review the metrics to make sure they haven’t been replaced by other indicators.
3. Use a Promotional Calendar
Working with a co-branding partner adds additional challenges when it comes to staying organized. Creating a communal promotional calendar keeps your marketing team aligned with that of your partners. It also helps you to better assess the effectiveness of those marketing efforts over time.
- Coordinate Multi-Channel Campaigns - Ninety percent of consumers expect consistent branding across all channels. Carefully plan your interactions, both with your customers and with each other. Use your calendar to send the right materials to move consumers down their path to purchase, without colliding with each other.
- Keep an Eye on the Future - Knowing what’s coming up next will help you make strategic decisions proactively rather than reactively. Work in advance to prepare upcoming content to meet customers at a later stage of their journey.
- Review Past Campaigns - A promotional calendar helps you understand what worked (and what didn’t work) in past promotions to give you and your partner the best chance at success in the next.
4. Organize Co-Branded Assets
Naturally, co-branding with your retailers puts more marketing assets in play at any given time than just marketing on your own. Staying organized will help both brands to achieve their goals.
- Make Assets Available - Place all materials in a shared location where both brand and retailer have access. Be sure that all materials are up-to-date and feature the latest logos, taglines, pricing, social media links, etc.
- Utilize Asset Management - Asset management tools help business partners stay organized and use only the most recent marketing materials. Don’t take the chance of your partner using an outdated logo or color scheme while marketing on your behalf.
- Facilitate Collaboration - Sharing assets and using a management tool allows for fewer bottlenecks, and ensures both sides can easily collaborate and activate on strategy and design through open communication.
The benefits of co-branding are undeniable. But it’s also understandable that brands and retailers may be wary of ceding control of their messaging and brand representation to other companies. These tips for developing consistency in co-branding will help bring peace of mind and success to marketers on both sides of the partnership.
Written by Allison Wilker
Allison Wilker is Icon’s Chief Client Officer and has 23 years of leading clients to marketing, retail, and PR success. Clients include Tempur Sealy, Mt. St. Joseph University, Skyline, Fifth Third Bank, and Valvoline. Allison’s focus is in consumer durable goods, food, education, and finance.