Relooking at Collaborations: How to Partner Smart.

Collaborating with like-minded brands can help you reach a wider, more targeted audience.

Traditional marketing tells you to guard your strategy closely and not to show your hand to other players in the industry. In today’s world, this is no longer practical or smart. With endless brand chatter and options, consumers have to sift through a lot of ‘noise’ to find their right fit

Many companies struggle to break through this barrier. Collaborating is in fact proving to be good means to success.

SHK - Like Minded


The reality is that when companies come together with a common audience, a common interest or aim, they can band together in endless ways to create a stronger presence that is greater than what each of them could accomplish alone.  Reach a wider network, be more targetted, have greater influence and all the whilst doing it a lower cost.


Every brand has distribution channels, financial resources, audiences and communication collateral which is valuable not only to that brand but to potentially other brands with a similar target demographic.

Collaborations can vary from the large-scale to the smaller, one-off event style initiatives. Some of the most collaborations on the global scene include fashion retailer H&M, who positions itself as ‘accessible, low priced and on trend’. Yet the brand has forged collaborations with some of fashion’s most iconic high-end brands including Stella McCartney, Versace and most recently Alexander Wang. By offering a limited collection of exclusive pieces for a limited time they continue to enhance their position as a trendy fashion destination. For the high-end designer, it is an opportunity to create a bond with a newer generation that is aspirational and that will in time upscale to pricier attire.

Closer to home, the unveiling of the annual Wealth Report by Knight Frank, a definitive report into the trends and insights most impacting high-networth individuals is done in partnership with Stanbic Bank. Specifically their private banking division. An audience to whom, the latest trends and opportunities in wealth generation is most of interest. By joining forces both brands are able to leverage more than otherwise. For the bank, it’s the ability to give their premium clients added value and an enhanced service through information. Whilst for Knight Frank it is the opportunity to tap into a new client based potentially.

If a collaboration is something you think your brand can benefit from, you need to be clear on how and with whom you will execute it. It may be daunting at first, but we have a checklist to help you get started.
  1. What is your aim?

Before you can begin collaborating you need to be clear. What do you want to achieve? Is it to target a new audience? Is it to showcase a different side of your brand? Are you trying to generate awareness for a new offering?

Regardless of whether you are looking to initiate collaboration or if you have been approached, it is imperative to take the time to understand your end goal so that you can understand which activities will best work.

  1. Consumercentric

 At SHK, we are always focussed on thinking like our target audience. What would they be interested in? How do they lead their lifestyles? What brands resonate with them and what are they likely to spend on? If you take the time to understand your audience you will quickly be able to identify which other brands they engage with outside of yours.

Natural collaborations include things such as cognac and cigars, elite travel and a luggage creator, luxury cars and technology. The options are endless.

Make a list of brands and take the time to understand why your audience gravitates to those brands? What do they do right? And can they compliment you in a marketing campaign? Can you benefit by being aligned with them?

  1. Pick your partner wisely

Once you’ve made your list identify the right brand fit. The most effective campaigns are those where the ethos and brand essence of two companies are aligned. You should both have something mutual to gain from a partnership for it to be even.

Look for key signals such as their corporate culture – is it the same as yours? How about their brand tone of voice? Does it reflect the manner in which you express your brand? Are they willing to share the workload and the budget? You will likely have different skillsets and so are both partners contributing fairly?

It’s important to define clearly the parametres and deliverables by each party from the outset to manage expectations and to have an equitable task load. What will success look like? How will both parties know that the campaign has been fruitful? If the collaboration takes the form of an event measurables can include: number of sales post event, number of new customers acquired through event, PR generated and even attendance levels. Is there a plan for a post-even follow up? If so which party will do it?

Be clear from the start to drive a collaborative campaign that maximizes potential. You want to bring out the best from each company so that your marketing effort can see full benefit.

  1. It doesn’t always have to be about money

If you limit your mindset to simply looking at avenues that are paid-for partnerships/sponsorships you will not get very far. Look beyond the money and see how you really can benefit. Can you give away free product in exchange for advertising space? Can you cross-promote their services at your outlets and vice versa? Do they have a newsletter you can ride-off? This is especially true if you are a small startup. You will probably have a cash-strapped budget. So get inventive and look at the resources you do have. The ones that you can leverage off to get you the outcome you desire.

Ultimately, the success of any collaboration is dependent on the time you invest in building that relationship. Be prepared to invest your time, it will be worthwhile. In exchange, you will gain access to a new audience and widen your awareness for significantly less money that if you were to do it alone. Collaborations can spark new ideas and inject creativity into your organization. Embrace them and begin to factor in partnerships into your marketing plan for a more targeted and strategic approach.