Better brand collaborations.


19th September, 2019

The key to effective brand collaborations

Today, brand collaborations are considered a highly effective form of marketing. But there are some tricks for the uninitiated, writes Renae Smith.

When it comes to traditional styles of marketing, the notion of promotion without self-promotion can be confusing. Marketing usually takes the form of broadcasting as many self-promotional messages as you can in order to gain the attention of your consumer and while that might have worked in 2009, times have changed.

Today’s consumer has an almost limitless number of ways to gather information, all of them available at the swipe of their fingertips. If they don’t like your messaging, they simply scroll on past it to something else.

With ads being shown to us at every waking moment, marketing desensitisation means that brands have to be even more creative with the way they break through the noise.

This is especially true for messaging that is designed to reach consumers on social platforms. These social brand messages allow for direct consumer feedback which means that unless the content is appealing and engaging, it won’t have any impact at all and could, in fact, be damaging to your brand if people decide to critique it publicly.

The key to connection is creating content that is honest, engaging and unique. This means content that isn’t necessarily selling something, but instead subtly engages a consumer with a concept and connects them emotionally with your brand on a deeper level.

Brand collaborations are an effective way of reaching new consumers by tapping into connections they already have with other brands. When done correctly, collaborations actually enhance the image of both brands and provide a new, long-lasting connection that goes beyond a simple transaction.

Unfortunately, collaborations can also be tricky and I’ve seen hundreds of collaborations that haven’t worked because they lacked some key considerations.

They either don’t make sense to the target consumer, they seem forced or confused or they lack structure. Below, let’s discuss some of the most important things to consider before collaborating.


If you choose to collaborate with another brand, the first thing you have to do is work out who you want to collaborate with, and why. What’s the point of the collaboration? What do both parties receive from the collaboration? What’s the desired outcome? What’s the timeline? What does each party have to do in order for the collaboration to work?

Many companies think a collaboration is a good idea simply because they ‘like’ the idea of working with another company, but this is simply not enough.

The collaboration has to make sense for both brands and the best way to understand if it does it to audit the purpose.

Set a clear goal for yourself and outline how you expect the collaboration to help you reach that goal. Make sure you can see a clear link between the collaboration and the proposed activity and then test that idea out on friends or family.


When you decide the collaboration’s purpose, you should already have a pretty clear idea about the type of company you need to collaborate with.

It is essential to do due diligence into any company you consider partnering with to find out if their brand has enough credibility to align with your brand’s reputation. Remember, a collaboration should benefit both parties and the right collaboration partner will understand that work will be required from both companies in order to make the collaboration a success.

Once you have a potential partner in your sights, don’t just dive in.


Creating a formal collaboration charter not only allows you to outline the terms and conditions of the collaboration, but also makes the entire experience more productive as all parties know where they stand and what is required of them.

Create a document that outlines key factors of the collaboration such as the mission and purpose, including a rough timeline and proposed milestones.

While you will have discussed these ideas to some degree, it’s essential to get these ideas down in writing so that they can be agreed on formally.

Next, you need to decide who exactly is going to be involved. While it’s recommended not to bloat a collaboration by involving too many people, you will want to ensure that both companies have enough people on board to make the collaboration work.

Once you have a list of relevant people involved, ensure that everyone in the collaboration is assigned a role. These roles could be leadership or decision-making roles, or they could be support roles. Either way, make it clear who does what.

Finally, understanding the values, assumptions and ethics of the other company is essential to minimise conflicts. Ponder what issues might arise, or what situations could reflect poorly on the collaboration. Understand each other’s stance on specific issues and ensure that a structure is in place to respond if anything goes wrong.

The secret to any good collaboration is taking your time in the planning stages. While it may be tempting to jump in and get things going as quick as possible, the preparing, auditing and planning phases of a collaboration are essential to its success.