brand partnerships


Many brands have found success in experiential marketing activations by leveraging brand partnerships. Big or small, brands who can engage the right target audience better together than on their own often make great partners. Some smaller brands discover this is a cost-effective way to launch into experiential marketing.

Selecting the right brand partners requires taking many factors into consideration first. You may want to ask these questions:

  • Does the partner’s brand values align with your own company ethos? Ensuring alignment when it comes to your ethics or what your brands stand for is the most important when selecting a partner. There needs to be an authenticity to the collaboration rooted deeper than the experience, itself. Do your brand personalities get along?
  • Can the other brand help you achieve something you can’t on your own? Know what the partner can bring to the table, such as scale, reputation, technology, assets, a certain skill set, etc. Be clear about what you will bring to the partnership, too.
  • How does your audience intersect with theirs? You want to connect like-minded consumers, yet you’re also looking to grow your audience based on theirs. Partnerships offer each brand a bigger, broader audience that is relevant to each brand.
  • Does the partner have a high like-ability factor? You don’t want to join forces with a partner that misses a mark with your existing customer-base.
  • What is the partner’s level of reliability and integrity? When selecting a partner, you want to know you can depend on them and that they’ve got you equally covered.
  • Is the partnership exciting? You want to choose a brand partner that generates interest, curiosity and creativity. You also need the partnership to effectively challenge each brand uniquely. Partnerships help the contributors to grow and evolve, and that should excite you.
  • Is there equal passion for the partnership? You want your brand partners to be as into you (and what you’re trying to achieve) as you are into them. Like any great relationship, there’s gotta be a bit of chemistry.

Great brand partnerships aren’t created through luck. They come about after deliberate foresight and strategic action and — perhaps most importantly of all — being realistic about the execution. // Melanie Brandman, The Brandman Agency

Brand partnerships aren’t new. Most have a natural synergy that amplifies each brand story – without confusing the audiences. That’s why Men’s Health and Fitbit ‘fit’ together so well for their adventure column and other co-branded initiatives. It’s clear. It makes sense. It’s seamless.

Other brand partnerships can too be friction-less, even when they’re more surprising. IKEA and Adidas recently teamed up. You may never suspect the pairing, but once you see how they’re collaborating, you understand the value proposition. When the surprise duo creates rewarding content – and a wonderful experience – for the audience, it is a beneficial brand partnership.


Effective partnerships deliver better results for both brands than what would be earned independently. Through a brand partnership, you can capitalize on both brands’ strengths. Experiential marketing might be a new strategy for both of you, and the hurdle is easier to clear once you join forces. Most importantly, together, you will create greater value for participants.

In many circumstances, a brand has big ideas for the type of activation they want to execute. Yet, they don’t have enough resources to carry it out on their own. Of course, co-branding the experience means sharing the credit…but it also means splitting the costs. Leveraging each other’s assets is definitely a plus and may save you some money. What’s more, many brands find that the returns they receive are worth the partnership.

Each partner will be cross-promoting the experience and each other. That means increased exposure across multiple channels. Not only are you tapping into a larger audience base through your partnership, you’re also gaining the brand partner’s influencers. The cross-promotion will happen through user-generated content, too. You’re reaching a wider audience, creating buzz and perhaps gaining new segments – there are a lot of marketing benefits to reap.

Regardless of the dollars and cents, a brand partnership can be valuable in other ways. Perhaps it’s being able to present the type of well-received live entertainment you wish to give to your audience. Or you score some added networking power. Maybe the brand helps you shape and tell your own story more strongly.

Brand partnerships aren’t always easy. Sometimes, they are complex and complicated. But if you have the right partner in place, the collaboration can prove very successful.


One of the most widely recognized stunts, Stratos, was the result of GoPro and Red Bull teaming up. The brands both want to inspire the world to live bigger. When Red Bull dared to plunge from space, it wasn’t a far leap to make for GoPro to film the jump. Energy, adventure and action – these brands make sense together!

Citi’s Summer in the Square offers high-touch experiences through a network of brand partnerships. The week-long series features fitness, entertainment, films, children’s activities and dance in New York’s Union Square. Citi not only recruited sponsors for the experiential activation, but they collaborated with brand partners, such as NYC City Parks, Karma Kids Yoga and The New School Jazz, to present the summer program.

And there are many more! Lifestyle brand Refinery29 relies on a variety of brand partners, including artists and brands, to create their well-known 29Rooms experience. Toyota teamed up with ESSENCE for their Afrofuturistic Instagram museum. Mattress brand Casper partnered with Standard Hotel’s One:Night app to create a memorable hotel experience at SXSW, including bedtime stories and tuck-in services. Gatorade told their innovation story with high-tech brand partner Sparta Science; both brands are dedicated to athlete performance.

Not all brand partnerships are a combination of huge consumer brands. Small and mid-sized companies can find value by investing in other similarly sized companies, too. For example, a boutique hotel may partner with a nearby coffee shop to create a travel experience to promote visits at both stops. A regional potato chip brand can team up with a regional dip-maker for a sampling activation. Or two start-up tech firms can join forces to better allocate resources.


Alignment of goals at the beginning stages of the partnership will allow you and your partner to have a foundation to rely upon when addressing any issues that come up in the future. // Charlie Terenzio, (Source)

Brand partnerships are a business decision. Sure, they can support your experiential marketing efforts, but they shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Executives of both brands need to be included in the conversation. There should be a partnership contract. Lay out the terms clearly. Set expectations upfront, and schedule regular check-ins.

Transparently communicate your goals for the partnership. If both brands are aligned with objectives from the beginning, and you can stay laser-focused to achieve them, then your partnership will start on solid ground.

Collaborate! When there are decisions being made regarding your experiential marketing strategy, involve your partner. Actively engage during the planning phases. Become an extension of each other’s marketing teams. You may actually uncover additional benefits to the partnership as you continue to work side-by-side.

What may form as a means to an experiential marketing campaign may be sustainable for the long-term. Explore new ways to collaborate ongoing. Talk about future experiences that could continue to foster growth among both brands. Create new opportunities beyond the experience that pushes both brands forward.

To learn more about leveraging brand partnerships for your experiential marketing, give us a call.