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Updated: May 8, 2024

How to develop a co-branded marketing strategy

Co-branding with another organization can be a powerful way to expand your reach — either to new geographic markets or to new audience segments.

head shot of woman with dark hair
Courtesy / Fluent IMC
Marnie Grumbach is the founder of Fluent IMC.

The power is in leveraging the brand equity of your co-branding partner. Well-known examples include airlines and credit cards, Spotify and Uber or Apple and ApplePay — diverse products or services come together to serve the same audience. While these appear as marketing win-wins, some careful planning should go into a co-branded marketing effort. 

For small or mid-sized businesses, a co-branded marketing campaign might be as simple as asking a preferred referral source to share branded content or co-host an event. Before you begin courting a co-branding partner, think through your goals, strategy and the tactics required to make it mutually beneficial.

First, research options for a like-minded partner. Be transparent about your goals and your expectations for shared participation in the program.

Is the organization equally motivated to benefit from the campaign? What is their brand reputation? Who is their audience and how do they engage them? How will your brand integrate into their ecosystem? How long will the campaign or partnership last? 

With an ideal partner on board, a well executed co-branded campaign can benefit both organizations by: 

Providing value to new audiences and influencers: Co-branding content, events or even products with others in your industry isn’t necessarily “working with the competition.” Rather, think about building authority for your brand by leveraging your partner’s brand equity and relationships. Don’t stray too far away from your own brand. Influencers within your industry will be more likely to engage with your brand, or listen/read/distribute your content when it comes with the added credibility of another respected expert in the industry. 

Increasing brand visibility through cross-promotions and co-ops: Co-op ad campaigns and cross-promotions allow you to reach broader audiences in a more budget-friendly manner. Cross-promoting isn’t new but is often seen utilized by big brands (i.e. Fast-food restaurants promote the latest blockbuster). For retailers, co-op advertising campaigns with a manufacturer allow both brands to increase awareness and share marketing expenses. 

Driving traffic to each other’s platforms: 

  • Social media. Tag your co-branding partner across social channels to promote a webinar or shared landing page or some other piece of co-branded content.
  • Webinars. Virtual presentations with both partners help to promote the partnerships and give each brand an opportunity to educate prospects about shared goals and ideas. 
  • Podcasts. A recent Edison Research report showed that an estimated 34% of the U.S. population listen to a podcast weekly – about 98 million listeners. Producing your own content or partnering with a brand that has an existing podcast is a great way to get in front of your shared audience.
  • Blog posts and email blasts. Your combined existing followers are already a captive audience. Invite them to access your new co-branded content, emphasizing the value your readers will get from both brands. 
  • Live events. Educational or networking events, fundraisers and parties co-hosted by both brands bring your collective audiences together in a space where new relationships can be fostered. 
  • Shared landing page. If you’re co-branding content or events, you don’t necessarily have to make the choice between hosting the content on your platform or your partner’s platform. Create a shared landing page for your co-branded campaign by featuring both company logos on the page and being sure to name the companies within the content itself. Then offer a download or offer that drives traffic to both partner platforms.

Be mindful that any type of partnership may expose you to risks. Vet your partners carefully and be aware that their brand reputation could impact your own.

With numerous benefits to co-branded marketing, experiment by starting small and carefully analyze the meaningful outcomes for both organizations at the close of the campaign. 

By blending your expertise, your co-branded campaign offers both audiences greater value and stands to multiply the impact for both brands.  

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