To start, what is co-branding anyway? Isn’t the point of branding to make yourself stand out from others? Well, certainly it is, but co-branding is a technique used by many, whether they realize it or not, to boost their own brand.
“the term ‘co-branding’ is relatively new to the business vocabulary and is used to encompass a wide range of marketing activity involving the use of two (and sometimes more) brands.”
Many forms of this marketing strategy exist, including using tangible products in assistance or simply using the names or logos and the strengths that they convey. You may be familiar with the use of products in co-branding, better known as “ingredient co-branding”, with names such as Ford using Michelin tires, a major player in the 1960’s responsible in part for putting Michelin on the map. Multiple-sponsor co-branding and joint-venture co-branding are both strategies using the strengths and similarities of two companies to promote a mutually exclusive product. A familiar example of this may be the partnership between American Express and Delta Airlines. Together they provide benefits that don’t exist one without the other.
So, some important things to remember when making these marketing decisions, because the idea of co-branding is appealing, but the leverage you receive may not always be to your advantage if not done correctly.
You should first ensure that the message and values of your brand parallel those of the co-brand. Do your research and meet face to face to discuss the direction you are both headed or where you want to be. Remembering that by co-branding, you are not in this fight alone any longer, you must be working in sync with each other or failure is imminent.
Secondly, request that you keep rights to any and all information that is sent as part of the co-branding. If your company and your logo/brand are publicly distributed to channels other than you regularly monitor, it is smart to assign someone to track these channels and keep an eye on every move.
Lastly, create a guideline manual for how your logo/brand is used in certain ways, whether it be web, newspaper, or product. PMS colors should always be clearly provided, and art files with correct sizing and typeface should also be present. Both of these are so important when it comes to consistency in the face of your brand. What is said and conveyed by your brand is one aspect, but as much attention needs to be put on the face.