Recently, two seemingly unlikely business leaders from different industries united to form a phenomenal partnership. Starbucks and Spotify established a multi-year relationship that links its “7,000 company-operated stores in the U.S. and 10 Million My Starbucks Rewards® loyalty members with Spotify’s more than 60 Million global users to offer a first-of-its-kind music ecosystem”. Talk about a strategic partnership.
There are many advantages associated with Business-to-Business partnerships (B2B) such as the enhancement of your value proposition and access to an extended customer base. In particular, co-branding has become a major phenomenon in the business world today and companies across various industries are partnering for success. If executed correctly, B2B partnerships can help increase your sales and revenue while giving you additional exposure.
In order for your co-branding campaign to succeed, there are several tips you need to keep in mind:
Before considering a B2B partnership, you must clearly define your company’s purpose and value proposition. It is of utmost importance that your business has aligned objectives with your potential branding partner, even if the partnership extends across multiple industries such as in the case of Starbucks and Spotify. You don’t want your brand image to be damaged because you are partnering with the wrong company.
This doesn’t just apply to the product and experience. Think of things like overall vision, social issues, and the WHY behind the brand. Do they match? Or does it feel forced? Study the other brand and make sure everything fits. It truly is a partnership. Everything they do will affect you.
On the positive side, a shared purpose is powerful. It magnifies your vision and builds a stronger customer following. Since there are two brands involved, the intensity is greater, backed by years of building reputations with loyal fans. This ecosystem turns into a community that everyone wants to be a part of. It launches customers into a brand lifestyle that they’ll never want to leave.
Through your brand, you have most likely built a significant emotional connection with your customers. Always make sure that your partnership has a clear and shared purpose for continued influence within your existing customer base.
The general purpose of branding design is to portray your business in a unique manner in order to attract an extended audience that will convert into a customer base. Therefore, co-branding requires you to search for a partner that will create an entirely unique offering in order to garner this interest, especially if you are extending outside of your core industry.
This means defining a certain experience that is available only to your co-branding partnership. It should be something new and unique on its own. Customers can only experience it in the right setting. Co-branding becomes a whole new unified brand, representing both parties.
Co-branding is meant to increase audience awareness of your brand while simultaneously positioning you ahead of your competition. Focus on creating a unique offering that is exclusive to this co-branding opportunity.
A co-branding is worthless if it doesn’t provide value to customers. Switch from thinking in terms of planning and strategy to the customer experience. What do they want? What would make their lives better?
Starbucks and Spotify is a perfect example because it wasn’t primarily about them, it was about the café experience for customers. They love sitting down, sipping on coffee, working on their laptop, and listening to great music. The co-branding invested in that experience.
Imagine another brand wanting to join. Apple could find a way to increase the technology experience when they are on their MacBooks. Or an internet company can find a way to make public WIFI unique only in those Starbucks. These are people-first tactics.
What exactly does it mean to be people-first? Put the needs and interests of the customers first. Obsess over solving their problems and making their experience better. Use co-branding to establish a partnership, fulfilling the needs better than you could do on your own.
Legitimacy and Reputation
Conduct due diligence to ensure that you are partnering with a top marketing company. This might include running background checks, reviewing financial statements, or conducting research on their marketplace reputation. This will help you avoid any alliances that might be potentially detrimental in the long run.
It will be difficult to disentangle your brand and business from a partnership once it is established. Be relational in your partnership, but also be strategic. If your B2B partnership is successful, it will serve to strengthen your influence in the marketplace while increasing your revenue.
On the other hand, a solid company brand with a great reputation can strengthen your own. This can only happen if you research potential partners and start a dialogue about common values and goals for customers.
The partnership between Starbucks and Spotify was extremely strategic on many different levels. From increased exposure to added customer value to increased revenue, these two powerful brands are great examples of a successful B2B venture.
They practiced a great way to identify co-branding opportunities. They knew their customers. They knew their lifestyles. This had trans-industry potential.
You can do the same today. Odds are, your brand exists within a customer lifestyle. For example. you might provide HR services for the restaurant industry. Those clients probably also enjoy learning about cutting food waste and saving costs, which is a great opportunity to partner with a brand that fulfills those needs while highlighting your expertise on employee training to implement it. This could lead to an interesting industry email newsletter. The opportunities are endless.
Next time you hear the music in Starbucks, consider how this type of venture might benefit your own business.