Should You Partner Up?
I was speaking with my team about certain people’s obsession with their competition. I won’t lie. I used to be one of those people, but I concluded that it would make me infinitely happier to be client-driven, and it has paid off. The discussion then turned to unusual partnerships and why it is more important than ever to collaborate.
The obvious question, isn’t life better when shared? For brands, it seems to be so: partnerships might be the key to unlock future change. Building trust with a potential partner is the apparent beginning of a collaborative journey.
“Trust is precious and easily wasted, and guessing is a lousy foundation for future progress.”
– Seth Godin
The world has begun engaging in conversations around inclusivity, sustainability, and the dream of moving towards a more collaborative way of celebrating the collective over the individual. We know that together we are stronger and that the best way to go through hard times is as a collective.
Many big names have partnered up in unexpected ways to help us get to the other side of the pandemic. A recent one, just perfect for this newsletter, is the Tinder and Lyft partnership aimed at post-lockdown dating. Let’s have a look at the words of wisdom from David Wyler, SVP of Business Development and Partnerships at Tinder.
“Like any relationship, it’s about the right place at the right time, and there really is no better moment for our brands to work together,”…“We value Tinder’s inclusive policies and diverse community. We’re excited to partner with a company that, like Lyft, believes in elevating experiences and bringing people together.”
2. Partnerships should be about elevating the consumer experience.
3. Partnerships have to happen at the right time and place.
In fashion, there are always noteworthy collaborations. I am going to break down four examples that illustrate the value of different types of partnerships.
1. Smart Partnerships: When brands partner up for the sake of innovation and customer experience.
This news has been blowin’ up! Prada and Cartier joined the Aura Blockchain Consortium developed by LVMH, their direct competitors. This partnership means all brands involved can leverage blockchain technology to authenticate their products, potentially showcase their sustainable values, ethical manufacturing methods, and communicate with their customers.
Would you collaborate with your competition if you knew that it would give you and your customers a winning edge?
In the news again, Prada stepped in to help Valentino after a fire destroyed around 90% of one of their shoe manufacturing plants. By offering one of their factories close to the site that burnt down. In this genuine act of kindness, Prada proved that solidarity is more important than competition.
Could you put competition aside and reach out to a fellow brand in need?
The Gucci+Balenciaga “collaboration” for Gucci’s latest collection Aria, launched for their 100th anniversary, is not as crazy as you might think. Both of these powerhouses, after all, are owned by luxury conglomerate Kering. Alessandro Michele stated that this is “not to be considered a collaboration but more of a hack” with pieces “pilfered” from Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga. Whether the collection pieces were hacked or collaborated on is not the point. This is different from a luxury brand asking a streetwear brand for a passion injection. It is a love-fest, a collection reflecting mutual appreciation.
Q: What’s the lesson here? A: If Alessandro Michele asks if he can hack your name or work, just say YES! But seriously, would you consider letting a competitor use your name and work if it meant your customers would love a once-in-a-lifetime result?
An interesting problem is one that’s never been solved in this way before. It involves coloring outside the lines. With an IG post entitled “curiosity is your currency” the consumer innovations division of Seed Health, a microbial sciences company, launched “(HOME)Room,” an interactive learning experiment with streetwear brand Come Back as a Flower (CBAAF). Working on the hypothesis, “can curiosity about science feel as urgent and relevant as the next drop?”, Seed introduced six at-home science lessons on Instagram Stories. If you could pass all of the quizzes, you would unlock a code and receive a FREE first-edition sweatshirt. The tagline is genius “First come, first learn. Limited inventory, unlimited possibilities.” Think about this when you promote your collaboration. How can you communicate your partnership shortly and smartly so that your customer will never forget it?
Buzzwords like purposeful are not enough to attract and keep a loyal brand tribe. Partnerships need to be, and I say this time and time again, authentic, transparent, relevant for their audience, and, if possible, game-changing
“Partnerships, or collaborations, are the “cool factor” that can create a halo effect.” “…marketers should be discerning about which partnerships are actually novel and add value rather than those that are hype-generating and quick to fizzle.”
“Partnerships – romantic or otherwise, rely on co-operation and finding common ground – thriving, not thwarting ‘individuality.”