September 29, 2021
The Power of Strategic Partnerships to Grow Your Brand
Raise your hand if you’ve ever paid for the ad-free version of Hulu, Spotify, or YouTube.
We have too, because really, who doesn’t love an ad-free option?
With the steady rise of ad-free environments, it’s becoming more challenging by the day for brands to stand out and reach their target demographics. Developing strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations creates opportunities for brands to directly engage with customers in new and unique ways. Plus, the numbers don’t lie; research shows 76% of companies agree that strategic partnerships are key to delivering growth. Research also found 52% of companies have used these partnerships to generate over 20% of their revenue.
In the lightning speed world that is 2021, brands need to uplevel their marketing efforts to cut through the noise, and directly engage their audience. You might be thinking, yeah this all sounds great, but how can my organization actually do this?
Enter the power of dynamic brand partnerships. These are strategic alliances between brands in order to tell a cohesive story while fostering a win-win partnership for both teams. We’ve outlined a few of our favorite recent partnerships below, and also include some important questions to ask before embarking on your own partnership.
Barilla x Spotify
In a truly ingenious move, both for its simplicity and seamless brand extension, pasta giant Barilla teamed up with Spotify to create a series of playlists designed to last exactly as long as it takes to cook your pot of pasta.
Developed for some of the company’s most popular pasta shapes, the eight playlists are aptly named: Mixtape Spaghetti, Boom Bap Fusilli, Pleasant Melancholy Penne, Moody Day Linguine, Top Hits Spaghetti, Best Song Penne, Timeless Emotion Fusilli, and Simply Classics Linguine. They feature pop, hip-hop, and indie, plus oldies covered by Italian artists. Users simply need to start their desired playlist and drain their perfectly cooked pasta once the last song finishes.
These simple yet effective playlists allowed the largest pasta company in the world to directly reach consumers as they cooked more pasta at home during the pandemic. They also solved their audience’s challenge; cooking perfectly al dente pasta no matter the pasta shape. Additionally, the playlists drove new or infrequent users to the music streaming platform.
The Playlist Timers offered a branded experience that not only solved a problem for home cooks but also tapped into the trend of branded playlists. However, these Playlist Timers take the concept to the next level in their utility and creativity.
Beyond Meat x Tinder
Plant-based meat and dating apps might seem like an unlikely pairing, that is until Tinder and Beyond Meat teamed up to create one of the most innovative and buzz-worthy partnerships we’ve seen in 2021.
To better engage with the infamously values-based Gen Z, Tinder added a new feature called Passions. It allows users to add interests and causes they’re passionate about to their profiles to connect with those who have similar values on the app.
In celebration of Earth Day, Tinder partnered with Beyond Meat to create a special plant-based Passion and offered a gift to the first 500 users who matched via the plant-based Passion. Matches won a plant-based picnic for two, complete with date night swag and a free voucher for Beyond Meat’s products.
This partnership perfectly blends two seemingly disparate brands together under the mission of connecting with values-based demographics. Tying into Earth Day helped to further drive engagement around the sustainable brand and features on the app. Beyond Meat generated brand awareness with Tinder users and Tinder was able to connect with Gen Z through the partnership.
Microsoft x Chicago Bears
To celebrate Microsoft’s seventh season with the Surface as the official tablet of the NFL, the Chicago Bears partnered with STN Digital to launch a social campaign to show off the creative power of the tablet and highlight regular season games.
STN Digital helped the Chicago Bears utilize the Surface to create a series of photo manipulation graphics for game day matchups. Each piece of content was designed using the Surface and featured hyper-realistic illustrations that gave nods to the weekend matchup.
The campaign allowed fans to engage with the unique graphics highlighting their favorite team while also demonstrating the creative power of the Microsoft Surface. Throughout the season, the game day matchup graphics drew over 750K interactions and reached over 11 million people.
Corona x Duolingo
In what is perhaps our favorite partnership yet, Duolingo and Corona joined forces to celebrate the launch of Corona’s Hard Seltzer Limonada. Corona developed a voice-activated vending machine that sat in a pop up on the Las Vegas Strip and prompted consumers to ask for a Hard Seltzer Limonada in Spanish.
Those who asked correctly, “dame un Corona Hard Seltzer Limonada, por favor,” got a sample of the seltzer and those who mispronounced or answered incorrectly received a free subscription to Duolingo’s premium service to improve their Spanish.
Corona was able to frame their product launch around respect for its Mexican roots while also creating synergy with Duolingo’s rapidly growing audience. The language learning platform is the top-grossing education app on Google Play and in Apple’s App Store, with over 500 million downloads. Corona also provided free subscriptions to Duolingo throughout the summer with promo code LIMONADA bringing new engaged audiences to the platform.
Important Questions to Consider for Your Partnership
Now that we’re feeling inspired by all these creative partnerships, it’s time to consider how to develop one for your organization. As you get started, it’s key to ask the right questions.
Questions like, Do your audiences overlap? And if they don’t, is the audience of the partner you’re considering one you’d like to target? If the answer is no, this partnership likely won’t make sense for your brand to pursue. At the core of all successful partnerships is reaching new engaged audiences.
Another important question to consider is, Do your values align? While some of the partnerships we highlighted above might seem like unlikely matches, such as Beyond Meat and Tinder, the dynamic works because both organizations share similar values. Sustainability is huge for the plant-based meat company and Tinder recognizes the importance of this value with its core demographic. So while seemingly unlikely, the partnership was a success because the brand’s values were in sync.
Lastly, it’s important to make sure the strengths of each partner complement each other. Does your organization gain a core competency because of this partnership? In Corona and Duolingo’s partnership, Duolingo was able to generate a new subscriber base and expand its reach to new audiences. The partnership allowed Corona to highlight its Mexican heritage and promote its Hard Seltzer Limonada to Duolingo users.
As we make our way to the end of 2021 and into 2022, the rise of ad-free environments is only going to grow and brands will need to get more creative to stand out. Organizations that foster synergistic partnerships will not only gain increased awareness and revenue but they’ll be driving the industry forward leading the conversation. And really, what brand doesn’t want that?
Interested in finding out more about brand partnerships and how they can help your organization? Contact our expert team of strategists using the form below!