2 min read
Saksham Mendiratta
Analogy: Brand Collaborations & Dating Apps

Brand collaborations have been around for long. But is there a hack to getting them right? Read on.

Hey You,

It’s yet another Sunday and I’m all prepped up to watch my Formula 1 race once again this weekend. In other news, I’m in Bengaluru this whole week, so in case you’re around, I’d love to catch up with you.

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Now on to the crux of this edition: Brand Collaborations

I’m going to take you through my two cents on brand collaborations through the lens of a dating app.

So what exactly is a brand collaboration?

Two brands working ‘together’ on any initiative by leveraging their respective strengths.

But, let's get one thing straight: what brand collaborations are NOT:

a) They’re not influencer mentions

b) They’re not just give-aways

c) They’re not just a basket of products put together for friendships day

The start and end of brand collaborations resides in this term I use to segment brands called: the brand vibe

Brand Vibe is what you use to instinctively evaluate if two brands should work together or not. It’s as humane as you can imagine it to be. When we think of brands as humans and assign them personas, it’s also essential to treat them like one.

Brand Vibe is what you must be able to sense and give out, as a marketeer. The face behind the brand. To make it more relatable, visionary and humane.

Here’s how an ideal brand collaboration could be imagined:

The Process:

  1. Be vocal: about your intent to collaborate with other brands. It’s like outing yourself out there on a dating app. This lets people know that you’re up for evaluating opportunities. You could start talking about it on your social posts; or create an independent landing page on your website for brands to reach out to you; or tap into your fan base or communities to suggest relevant matches. Think of it like creating an account on a dating app. The fact that you’re online, means you’re open for business. And that was certainly pun intended.
  2. Dissect your vision: This is what you do with your teams internally. What would you like to collaborate for? How would it help your brand? How would you help another brand? Answering some of these basic questions (the why’s) help you evaluate the core essence of your collaboration. And let’s not go with: we’re doing it coz everyone else is doing it.
  3. Identify your Vibe: It’s a two-way streak. No brand would be open to collaborating (and they shouldn’t) unless they match your values & ideologies. So if and when you decide to be vocal about your intent to collaborate, let people know of your values as a brand. What makes you, you. If brands are attracted to your vibe, it’ll be a good fit. If not, it’ll be thousands of dollars saved on what could’ve been a disaster. With your vibe, be descriptive. This ain’t your ad film or tweet line, go long.
  4. Swipe Right: Approach Organically: Your ‘why’ is of utmost importance and that’s what would draw people towards you. In the brand world, swipe right literally means reach out to another brand: cold email, find them on Instagram or any other platform where they’re present. But write your cover story well: explain your why and hope for them to open it.
  5. Tangential Opportunities: Ideally, I recommend brands to go much beyond the surface level ideas. Think deeper than just give-aways and product bundles. Think product development. Think experiments. Think new games. Think social impact. What I just described is an ideal system for you to approach brand collaborations. There’s no guarantee for it to work because there’s time before the ideology around brand collaborations reaches maturity.

While this would be an ideal approach, I also have a few hallmarks around the process of brand collabs. I call it ‘The System’

The System: This is what defines the know-how’s of the universe of brand collaborations.

a) Reacher vs Settler: In a brand collaboration (like human relationships), it’s perfectly fine for brands to play the part of a reacher or settler. There’s no reason why you cannot collaborate with a brand bigger than yours (with its following). In fact it’s wiser for larger brands to collaborate with brands with niche followings, to tap into their concentrated network of fans.

b) Marriage:

Don't look at brand collaboration as a one night stand. Look at it like a marriage. You may start small, perhaps just with bouncing ideas, but go all the way in this relationship. If you feel that the possibility to collaborate with a brand exists, just start off with conversations.

c) Not an Ad Film: Brand collaborations don't always have to start and end with an ad film or a brand campaign. They could be as simple as starting a joint podcast (and then blow it up on distribution) or as deep as product design (imagine a beer company coming up with a coffee flavoured beer as a collaboration). They’re more than just social media teams jamming ideas.

d) Dedicated Individual or Team: In today’s time, your audience is your biggest currency. So no matter how big or small your audience & reach maybe, have a dedicated individual or team focussing on ideal collaborations. It’s bound to give you higher results than some of your performance campaigns.

Well, that’s it for now. Write to me in case you struggle with any aspect or you’d just like to catch up. I love feedback and even more constructive conversations on growth.

Until next time,

With Gratitude,