Powerful Co-Branding for Small Businesses & Websites


All the big brands are doing it, Entrepreneur’s Journey is doing it, and even teenage school kids are doing it, but the chances of many small businesses doing it right are close to nill! Now, what on earth am I talking about? Well, today I’m going to be giving you one of the most powerful techniques which you can use to strengthen your brand with – So, strap in folks.

You are what you eat.

Have you ever seen someone only ever eating Subway and thought to yourself – “Damn… that guy is definitely on a diet or something”. Or maybe you just saw someone wearing really cool Nike gear and you presumed they were seriously sporty. These are prime examples of what psychologists and marketers like to call – proximity influenced perception. Basically, as humans, our minds store things in a particular way, which allows us to cross-reference ideas, objects and places which are seen together in any way imaginable – LITERALLY. Some might even draw similarities between our brains and the way google ranks pages. In the above cases we combined attributes of brands and PEOPLE together but what I’m going to show you is that you can combine the attributes of brands and BRANDS together.

Hang out with the baddies and become a baddie.

Mothers are so right sometimes, and this is just one of those times. Did you notice that Apple iPods have teamed up with Nike? It creates a radically different and innovative identity for the team. I can almost certainly bet you, that after visiting this website, you’ll no longer see Nike or iPods in the same way. This allows them to do several different things:

  • Nike can Attract Apple’s market segments
  • Apple can Attract Nike’s market segments
  • They can cross-sell their customers to buy each other’s products and MAKE MORE money.
  • Finally, it allows them to refurbish their brand and attract people who may be ‘in between brands’ or simply seeking innovation, with this smashing product combination.

Interested? All you have to do is find a product or service which can compliment what you sell and make sure that they have a positive brand image and are selling to roughly the same consumers. Finally, make sure that this company has a strong identity which matches yours. Now you have a company which you can team up with to develop complimentary products with.

You can do Anything… Almost

If you lived in Australia during the nineties you might remember back when Metway and Suncorp were two different banks. However, Suncorp struck quickly and took over Metway. Then to minimise the effect of alienating the Metway customers, Suncorp decided to Co-Brand the names Suncorp and Metway together – effectively creating, Suncorp Metway. As time past and people adjusted to the new Co-brand, and integrated attributes of their perception of Metway into Suncorp. Finally Suncorp is slowly removing Metway from the equation, leaving the website titled, just plain old Suncorp. Albeit, not all was taken away… when the brands merged, perceptions about the two brands also combined and they have continued to change over time. If you’re going for a takeover or your brand needs some lovin’ how about using Co-Branding to these effects:

  • Increase customer perception of your service
  • Diversify your market into different segments
  • Increase brand recall
  • Get some PR buzz flowing
  • Change your brand Identity
  • Steal someone else’s customers.

This may be difficult for most small businesses to achieve in a physical marketplace but it is a lot more practical on the Internet. If you happen to own a website and you buy a competing or complimentary website, why not follow what Suncorp or Nike did? In the end, if done right, you will win out with a fantastic increase in your total brand value.

Best of luck Branding,
<a href=”http://www.bracingyourbrand.com/” >Robert Kingston</a>.

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  1. Excellent post Robert.

    I think it’s a brilliant concept, but like a lot of things, it’s trickier than it first seems. I’m finding it’s not only difficult selecting the right ‘partner’ (and convincing them it’s a good idea), HOW you implement it is a puzzle in itself. I’m sure, however, that the results are worth the mental gymnastics!

  2. Robert Kingston says

    Thanks Danielle.

    It is pretty tricky, but like Brad states in his post about admirable advertising, you just need to be creative. Anyway as an example, I went ahead and checked out your website – Close Connexion and here are some ideas I came up with:

    * Co-Market with events that your target market will be interested in – Since you are aiming for men and women over the age of 25, it wouldn’t make sense having an outing at a Rave club like The Family. Instead why not check out the Wine tasting tours down at the Gold Coast? Or maybe climbing Mt Barney with an adventure company? How about indoor soccer?

    * Get your IT guy to add software through which you can manage your customers – Find out how old they are, what their preference is, where they are from, their hobbies and interests, contact details, gender and most importantly their NAME. Not only will you be able to form fullfilling, trust-building relationships with them but you can do a whole lot more. For instance, you could send out a newsletter to the guys, showing them where they can get “dating advice” (off your partners and affiliates on the internet) to make the most of your service. Then you could do the same for the girls.

    I could go on and on, but just try to think of three main points:

    1. Do they match my target market?
    2. Will they add value to my Brand?
    3. Will they become lifelong customers of mine?

    Best wishes,

  3. Thanks for your suggestions Robert.

  4. You made a whole lot of point. Well, nowadays there are various companies that teamed up with each other to widen their market. Great post.

  5. Good to see you have some female fans Robert;) keep up the good work… Excellent article!

  6. Robert Kingston says

    Yeah, it’s definitely the way to go. I mean think about all the advertising out there which is trying to capture your attention… They certainly have to develop a common theme and brand identity to cut through all the other advertising clutter and communicate with their target audience.