Brand Management – Strengthen your brand through affiliations
The sign read “We are proud to brew Starbucks coffee”. Suddenly, the idea of eating in a cafeteria seemed a little more, shall I say… palatable. I hadn’t even planned to drink coffee (it was too late in the afternoon for me), but seeing this sign was comforting.
As the owner of that cafeteria knows, linking your brand to another product, service, place or even a person can be a great way to reinforce or increase your brand attributes.
We live in a world where everyone, and every business, specializes. To avoid becoming a commodity, you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Differentiation means being known for something, not a hundred things.
Creating brand alliances allows you to continue to benefit from the one thing you do best while benefiting from the one thing your affiliate does best.
When you’ve built a brand that excels at what your customers want and surrounded yourself with other strong brands, you maximize the brand experience while staying true to your unique value promise.
Some companies and organizations are excellent at making these valuable connections. It is not about co-branding, that is, sharing a product or service with two brand names. It’s connecting your brand to another brand to reinforce your differentiation, develop your brand attributes or increase your visibility. This advances your brand building and development activities.
Strengthen your brand
When your brand is highly differentiated from that of your peers or competitors, it is important to reinforce this differentiation across all of your brand affiliations. Some companies are exceptional at creating this type of strengthening links with similar brands.
The hotels seem to be the best in this area. Maybe it’s because they have so many brand partnership opportunities.
W Hotels, for example, chose to partner with Aveda, a personal products company with a modern, clean and natural brand consistent with W’s design and brand promise.
The Ritz Carlton is also great at building the right relationships. The hotel chain promotes the “Key to Luxury” package, which allows you to use a new Mercedes during your stay. Ritz Carlton had plenty of options for luxury car brands.
But he chose Mercedes, which emphasizes its classic luxury brand attribute. If new Bulgari design hotels were to launch a similar program, they would likely choose a more modern car brand, like Lexus, to support the brand. But the Ritz also missed an opportunity. She opted to manufacture her own line of toiletries rather than connecting with a brand that could strengthen her brand position. Ritz Carlton isn’t known as a luxury toiletries company; it is a luxury hotel that offers the best service and the best facilities. Hermès bath products in every room would be a great way to reinforce the Ritz attributes of luxury and exclusivity.
Sofitel, the luxury hotel brand of the French company Accor, chose Roget et Galet bath products. These soaps, gels and shampoos are typically French. It’s a key differentiator for the Sofitel brand, setting it apart from other high-end hotels.
Improve your brand attributes
Connecting your brand to others can also increase your brand attributes. And the brand you decide to link to doesn’t even have to be a product or a company.
L’Oréal has decided to associate its brand with one of the strongest brands in the world, the city of Paris. L’Oreal isn’t the high-priced brand name hair care product you’ll find in big salons. But she wanted to separate her products from her competitors by adding the brand attributes of style and fashion.
This is why whenever you see advertising for L’Oréal, you will see the word Paris, as in the slogan: L’Oréal Paris, because you are worth it.
As Nick Wreden reminded us in a previous MarketingProfs article, L’Oréal is no longer just a French brand. It is a global brand. But she chose to showcase her roots (no pun intended) to gain positive brand attributes through her association with Paris.
Yves St Laurent went even further. Its association is not with all of Paris but with just the trendy, stylish and creative Left Bank, hence Yves St Laurent Rive Gauche.
Increase your visibility
From the actual product pairing to all forms of marketing and advertising, connecting two brands helps to increase the visibility of both.
In the W Hotels example, you can see that both brands have increased visibility opportunities. Aveda gets that extra exposure every time someone visits a W hotel, and even every time someone visits the W Hotels website.
For a time, United Airlines bragged about brewing Starbucks on board. Would I fly United just for the coffee? Even as a coffee lover that I am, probably not. But it helps to improve the overall brand experience.
Creating these brand building alliances is easy as long as the product or organization you are connecting with sees the value in it. And you don’t have to be a giant consumer products company to benefit from these types of connections. My Small Business Reach has found tremendous benefits in connecting with companies like Brandego, organizations like ICF, and web portals like this site!
The key to developing these connections is to decide the criteria in advance. When considering creating an affiliate like this, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want the other brand to have the same target audience or a different target audience?
- Do I want the other brand to reinforce or enhance my brand attributes?
- Which attributes will be most visible in this association?
- What areas of my business/offerings are not core to my differentiation?
- What should I offer this other business or product in return?
- What companies, products, places, or even people come to mind when I think of my answers to the five questions above?
Whether it’s a small business or a large corporation, think about brand affiliation opportunities. Ask yourself if there are opportunities to connect your brand with others for mutual benefit.
To note: William Arruda is the expert teacher for an upcoming MarketingProfs.com virtual seminar: “Branding Basics—Profiting from Your Company’s Greatest Asset.” To learn more about the upcoming seminar, Click here.