Why (And How) Startups Should Run Co-Branding Campaigns
by Mackenzie Scott of Soundstripe
When it comes to growing a startup, there’s always another milestone to reach after you meet the last one. And for every entrepreneur, the top-of-mind priorities are maintaining sustainable growth, securing the next rounds of funding, and connecting with a wider audience.
But how do you achieve these goals effectively? Especially when you’re up against direct competitors that have been dominating the market for years?
Well, one way is to leverage co-branding partnerships and campaigns to your advantage.
In this blog, we’ll disclose five benefits of co-branding campaigns and share advice on spotting the right opportunities for your business. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Why Startups Benefit From Co-branding
For context, co-branding is a collaborative marketing strategy carried out by two or more brands. It’s an opportunity to create social media buzz, direct more traffic to both brands’ websites, and increase brand awareness.
A co-branding campaign can set your business apart from others for many reasons, but let’s focus on five of the main ones:
1. Strengthen your brand reputation.
Whether or not you just launched your startup, it’s important to continually cultivate a strong brand reputation and earn your audience’s trust. At the end of the day, if prospective customers don’t trust your brand or the quality of its products, they won’t convert.
By partnering with a business that has a dedicated and engaged customer base, you’re able to tap into that brand’s built-in audience and earn their trust more easily.
Through this collaboration, the other brand is essentially proving to their audience that your startup is credible, trustworthy, and worth their investment. And since co-branding campaigns are mutually beneficial, your brand partner(s) can reap these same benefits in return.
For example, let’s say that you’ve been successfully engaging a younger customer demographic, and this is an audience that your brand partner wants to attract. By campaigning alongside your startup, the other brand is better able to connect with that audience in an authentic and meaningful way.
2. Improve the UX of prospects and customers.
What are your audience’s pain points and hesitations? Is there a yet-to-be-developed product or service that could make their user experience better and more enjoyable?
While co-branding campaigns are great for boosting traffic and engagement, they can also solve logistical problems and improve overall user experience. A prime example of this type of campaign is when MasterCard partnered with Apple to give its users access to Apple Pay.
Not only did MasterCard set itself apart from other credit card companies by joining forces with Apple, but both companies also benefited from giving users a more convenient way to buy products.
Big or small, co-branded products and services like this can make your startup more valuable in the eyes of prospects and customers.
3. Give your startup a competitive edge.
No matter what type of co-branding campaign you plan on running as a startup, one key reason why this type of marketing is so effective is the novelty factor. These types of partnerships don’t happen every day, so they’re eye-catching and attractive to many people.
To give one example, Coors Light partnered with National Geographic in 2018 for a campaign that ended up reaching 10.5 million people and leading to a 6.8% increase in brand favorability. While this pairing might seem random, the partnership was strategically and successfully executed.
This campaign, in particular, proves that brands can reap a lot of benefits from thinking outside of the box, forming unconventional partnerships, and launching unique campaigns. For startups, it’s a great way to set your company apart from your competitors and engage your audience.
4. Increase engagement across all platforms.
Speaking of engaging the audience, an added perk of these partnerships is that co-branding campaigns can take place on any and all platforms. So if you wanted to co-launch an Instagram contest, you could market exclusively on that platform or across many others.
Let’s say that you’re partnering with a brand that has high engagement rates on Instagram and Facebook. Right off the bat, you know that 1) their audience is regularly engaging with their content and 2) it would be strategic for your campaign to leverage those two platforms.
Not only will your social media followers engage with a co-branded post, but you’ll also increase engagement by accessing the other brand’s follower base.
High levels of engagement can easily lead to more conversions, so this is definitely something to keep in mind when forming co-branding partnerships.
5. Set any timeline for the campaign.
It’s entirely up to you to set the time parameters of a co-branding campaign. Like MasterCard and Apple, you could form an ongoing partnership with a brand. Or like Coors Light and National Geographic, you could launch a unique campaign that only lasts for a couple weeks or months.
There’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to initiating and maintaining partnerships with other brands. It can be a short- or long-term commitment based on factors like your startup’s budget, the campaign’s purpose, and logistics.
If you decide to launch co-branding campaigns in the future, remember that these partnerships are opportunities to get creative, boost brand favorability, and strategically reach other growth goals.
Ultimately, the only hard and fast rule with co-branding campaigns is that you don’t want to partner with a direct competitor (for obvious reasons). Aside from that, look for brand partners that have an audience overlap and a pattern of good engagement.
Mackenzie Scott is a copywriter at Soundstripe, a stock music company that provides filmmakers, creators, and advertisers with SFX and royalty free music for Instagram (and many more genres).