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July 24, 2023

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What is Co-branding (+ How Brands Can Use It)

Co-branding requires a strong strategic partnership between the participating brands, it can help them reach new audiences and boost their brand image.



What is Co-branding (+ How Brands Can Use It)

Co-branding is a marketing strategy where two or more brands collaborate to promote a single product or service. The brands combine their names, logos, or identities on a product or marketing initiative. 

The goal of co-branding is to create a unique offering that leverages the strength and reputation of the partner brands, generating mutual benefits like increased brand awareness, customer reach, and revenue.

A common example of co-branding is a credit card that carries both the logo of the credit card company and that of a retailer. Another example is when a sports team partners with a food or beverage company to offer a combo meal deal with team-branded items.

Co-branding requires a strong strategic partnership between the participating brands. When implemented effectively, it can help businesses reach new audiences, boost their brand image, and differentiate their product or service from competitors. 

So in this article, we will look at the types of co-branding partnerships, the benefits, notable examples, and steps for executing successful co-branding campaigns. 

Let’s get started. 

Types of co-branding

There are several types of co-branding, each with its unique features and benefits. Here are the five main types:

1. Product co-branding: This is the most common type of co-branding. It involves two brands coming together to create a new, co-branded product. Each brand contributes its unique strengths, such as design, functionality, and reputation, to create a new product that provides added value for consumers. For example, Ford and Harley-Davidson collaborated to create the Harley-Davidson F-150 truck.

Harley Davidson special edition celebrating the two company’s shared 100th anniversary. The special badge was used on only 10,000 limited edition trucks celebrating their partnership. (Driving Line)

2. Ingredient co-branding: This type of co-branding involves brands that make products using shared ingredients. An example of ingredient co-branding is the partnership between Intel and computer manufacturers. Intel is a technology company that specializes in the production of computer processors, while computer manufacturers such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo produce and sell computers using Intel technology.

Through the ingredient co-branding partnership, consumers are assured that the computer they purchase has a reliable and high-quality processor. It also helps build trust between the technology company (Intel) and the consumer because they recognize the Intel brand and associate it with high-quality computer hardware.

3. Joint venture co-branding: This involves two or more brands coming together to create an entirely new company with the aim of producing a new product or service. Joint ventures allow for the sharing of risks, investments, and operational costs. For example, the formation of the Sony Ericsson alliance in which Sony and Ericsson formed a joint venture to produce mobile phones in 2001.

4. Promotional co-branding: Here, brands partner together for a marketing campaign. For example, a clothing brand and an athlete may collaborate to launch a limited-edition clothing collection. The brands will share the promotional costs while gaining increased exposure and brand visibility from the joint promotion efforts.

5. Same company co-branding: This form of co-branding involves branded products or services produced by two or more divisions or subsidiaries of one company. This type of co-branding is common in multinational companies with a range of products. 

For example, in 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market. Since then, they have co-branded to offer their customers an enhanced shopping experience. For instance, Amazon Prime customers get discounts and free delivery for Whole Foods Market purchases. Additionally, select Whole Foods Market stores have Amazon Lockers, allowing customers to pick up their Amazon packages while grocery shopping.

This partnership has been beneficial for both companies in several ways. It has allowed Amazon to expand its reach into the grocery industry and has enabled Whole Foods Market to reach a broader audience. Additionally, this co-branding partnership has helped Whole Foods Market to reduce costs by leveraging Amazon's logistics network, making their products more accessible and affordable.

Overall, the partnership between Amazon and Whole Foods Market is an excellent example of how sister companies can work together to create synergies and offer customers a seamless shopping experience.

The right type of co-branding for a business depends on the business's objectives, industry, and target audience. By selecting the appropriate type of co-branding strategy, businesses can create more significant opportunities for success and growth.

Benefits of co-branding

Here are the main advantages of co-branding:

1. Increased brand awareness: Partnering with another brand can help increase brand awareness. Each brand's marketing and advertising efforts will reach new audiences and raise brand awareness.

2. Attractions to new customers: Co-branding can attract new customers who may not have been interested in the individual brands before. When brands pool their resources, they can create more significant opportunities to target new niches or expand into new markets.

3. Saving resources: Co-branding can save businesses time and money as they share production, distribution, and marketing expenses. This shared cost helps the brands to allocate resources effectively, create new products faster and expand into new markets more easily.

4. Adding value to products: Co-branding can add value to products by combining the unique elements of each brand. This not only improves the product's quality but also allows brands to differentiate themselves by offering something unique.

5. Building strong relationships: Successful co-branding creates mutual benefits that make each brand stand out. By working together and leveraging each other's strengths, businesses can build stronger relationships that can continue to thrive.

With careful planning, co-branding is an excellent way to grow a business and build stronger customer relationships. The mutual benefits of co-branding partnerships can create something entirely unique, making them attractive to companies seeking to stand out and expand their reach.

Steps for executing co-branding campaigns

Here are the essential steps that brands must follow to execute a successful co-branding campaign:

1. Identify a Compatible Partner: The first step is identifying a compatible partner. It’s crucial to find a brand whose values, mission, and target audience align with yours. Look for businesses with complementary products or services to avoid competition.

2. Set Clear Objectives: Once you’ve found a partner, set clear objectives for the co-branding campaign. This includes defining what you hope to achieve from the partnership and how both brands will benefit.

3. Create a Joint Strategy: Work with your partner to create a joint strategy that outlines how you will achieve your objectives. Determine how you will design the co-branded product or service, the messaging and visuals, packaging, distribution channels, and marketing plan.

4. Define the Partnership Structure: Define the partnership structure and responsibilities of both parties. Decide on the manufacturing, branding, pricing, promotion, logistics, and customer service for the co-branded product or service.

5. Develop the Co-branded Product/Service: Work with your partner to design a co-branded product or service that’s unique, appealing, and valuable for customers. 

6. Plan The Rollout: Plan the rollout of the co-branded product or service. Determine how it will be marketed and promoted, and choose the appropriate channels and mediums. Then create a launch plan and timeline that aligns with both brands' strategies. 

7. Launch and Monitor The Partnership: Once launched, closely monitor the co-branding campaign's performance and make adjustments to maximize success. Work with your partner to assess the results and identify opportunities for future improvements.

By following these steps, brands can create successful co-branding campaigns. Remember to communicate effectively with your partner throughout the process to ensure the seamless execution of the campaign.

Examples of successful co-branding campaigns

A. Adidas x Parley for the Oceans

Adidas x Parley for the Oceans co-branding campaign is a prime example of a successful co-branding collaboration between two brands with a shared purpose and values. Adidas, a global sportswear brand, partnered with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organization, to create a sustainable product line that aims to end plastic pollution in the oceans.

This partnership started in 2015 with a mission to create a product that will address the environmental threat facing the oceans. The Adidas x Parley for the Oceans product line features a range of innovative shoes, sportswear, and accessories made from recycled plastic waste collected from the ocean.

Adidas has committed to using recycled plastic in all its products by 2024, and the collaboration with Parley for the Oceans is a significant part of its sustainability journey. Adidas is using its design and technology expertise to create shoes and clothing that are not only stylish and functional but also environmentally responsible.

Parley for the Oceans provided Adidas with access to its network of experts and ocean conservationists to help create innovative solutions to remove plastic waste from the ocean. Parley also provided technical expertise in material science, product design, and prototyping.

Why the collaboration works

The Adidas x Parley for the Oceans co-branding campaign works for several reasons. Firstly, it aligns with both brands' values and mission; to make a positive impact on the environment. This shared purpose establishes a deeper connection between the two brands and resonates with environmentally conscious consumers.

The collaboration has also established a unique selling point for the product line by using recycled plastic to create shoes and clothing. Using recycled plastic demonstrates a tangible commitment to sustainability, which is increasingly essential for consumers who care about the environment.

Lastly, the Adidas x Parley for the Oceans campaign's marketing strategy is highly effective in raising awareness about environmental issues and the importance of using recycled materials. The partnership has driven significant media coverage and generated buzz on social media, which helps reach new audiences.

B. GoPro x Red Bull

The GoPro x Red Bull campaign is a successful collaboration between two brands that share a passion for adrenaline-pumping activities such as extreme sports, stunts, and adventures. GoPro, a leading action camera brand, partnered with Red Bull, a global energy drink company, to create exciting content that highlights the performance of GoPro cameras and features athletes and adventurers sponsored by Red Bull.

The collaboration started in 2013 with a series of branded content videos and has since expanded to include various other activities such as events, promotions, and giveaways. The campaign provides a platform for GoPro to showcase the quality and performance of its cameras while establishing brand relevance with a passionate audience of extreme sports enthusiasts.

Why the collaboration works

Red Bull's sponsorship of athletes and adventurers who push the limits of human experience provides a perfect opportunity for GoPro to capture the action and create captivating video content that showcases the cameras' features. In turn, Red Bull has been able to leverage the partnership to generate buzz and exposure for its brand, events, and sponsored athletes.

The co-branding campaign also leverages both brands' substantial social media followings to drive engagement. Red Bull and GoPro collaboratively share content on their platforms, leading to increased exposure, reach, and engagement for both brands. 

Both brand also encourages user-generated content, and the #GoPro and #RedBull hashtags have become popular on social media platforms.

C. Nike x Apple

The Nike x Apple campaign is a collaboration between two brands that combine technology and sports to create innovative products. Nike is a leading sportswear brand and Apple is a global technology company. The partnership between both brands produced a popular product line called Nike+ iPod, a running system that uses an Apple device and a Nike+ sensor embedded in Nike shoes.

The co-branding campaign aimed to combine fitness and technology by creating a seamless running experience. The Nike+ iPod consisted of a sensor that was inserted in Nike shoes and connected wirelessly to an Apple iPod and later, iPhones and Apple watches. The sensor gives runners real-time data on their performance and progress, including distance, time, and calories burned.

One of the key successes of the Nike x Apple co-branding campaign was the integration of Apple's technology and Nike's sportswear expertise. The campaign highlighted the importance of wearable technology, which was an emerging mainstream trend at the time.

The partnership between Nike and Apple has since evolved, and the two brands have continued to collaborate successfully on other projects, including the Apple Watch Nike+, a smartwatch that combines Apple's technology with Nike's sportswear. 

This latest innovation showcases both brands’ ability to combine their capabilities and create cutting-edge products that appeal to a wide range of customers.

Why the collaboration works

The Nike x Apple co-branding campaign works because it leverages the unique strengths of both brands and creates a highly integrated experience for users. This partnership combines Nike's expertise in sportswear design and branding with Apple's technological innovation and design excellence to create a seamless fitness experience.

Another key success factor for the Nike x Apple co-branding campaign is the use of celebrity endorsements and influencers. By featuring top athletes and famous personalities, Nike and Apple were able to create a buzz around the product, generate excitement, and reach a wider audience.

The partnership also nailed the importance of product design, which is critical for creating user-friendly products that customers enjoy using. The Nike+ system was designed to be easy to use and works seamlessly with Apple devices.

D. L’Oreal x Balmain

The L'oreal x Balmain co-branding campaign was a collaboration between French cosmetics brand L'oreal Paris and fashion house Balmain. The project involved a collection of lipsticks that were inspired by the Balmain runway shows and designed by both brands.

The partnership was a natural fit as both L'oreal Paris and Balmain are known for their commitment to innovation, luxury, and creativity. The collection featured 12 matte shades in a range of colors that were designed to complement all skin tones. 

The collaboration between L'oreal Paris and Balmain was announced during Paris Fashion Week in 2017 and generated a lot of excitement both in the beauty and fashion communities. The partnership created a new level of excitement among consumers who have come to associate the Balmain brand with high-quality craftsmanship and glamour.

The L'oreal x Balmain collection was a huge success, selling out quickly and generating rave reviews in the beauty press. It was considered a revolutionary partnership as it was one of the earliest examples of a high-end fashion brand working with a mass-market beauty brand to create a luxury beauty product. The success of the campaign has since inspired similar collaborations between beauty and fashion brands in the industry.

Why the collaboration works

The partnership between L’oreal Paris and Balmain was a perfect match in terms of its mission. Both are known for their commitment to innovation, creativity, and stunning design. By collaborating, they were able to bring the innovative spirit of both brands together, creating a highly compelling product loved by consumers who otherwise would not have been able to afford or access Balmain products.

The L'oreal x Balmain collection worked because it offered a high-quality luxury beauty product to people who may have never experienced anything Balmain before. The collection was widely available and much more affordable than Balmain's fashion products. The product's success created a new level of excitement for niche fashion and beauty collaborations, and other brands are using this approach today.

Challenges of co-branding

Co-branding is a strategic partnership between two brands to create a new product or service. While co-branding has its benefits, there are also several challenges that come with it. Here are some of the most common challenges of co-branding you should be aware of before starting any collaboration:

1. Brand dilution: When brands join forces, there is a risk of brand dilution, meaning the brands lose their unique identity. Co-branding partners need to maintain their distinctiveness while creating something new.

2. Decision-making conflicts: In a co-branding partnership, one brand cannot make decisions unilaterally. Both parties must agree on the details of the partnership. This will include the terms of partnership, strategies, costs, and marketing. If you don’t do this, there is a risk that the partnership will be undermined by disagreements, leading to reduced effectiveness and ultimately damaging the two brands' relationships.

3. Cultural differences: Brands may have different corporate cultures, communication styles, and intellectual property rights that they need to reconcile. Brands must agree on every critical aspect of the partnership and align every difference to create a smooth operation for both parties.

4. Logistics and distribution: Co-branding partnerships may face logistical difficulties. Getting the product/service to the consumer may prove problematic if it is unclear who will manage distribution, transportation, and associated expenses.

5. Business objectives misalignment: The two brands collaborating must ensure that their joint venture's objectives align. Brands must have a clear and shared vision for their partnership to ensure they're both aiming at the same target.


Co-branding is a powerful strategy that can enhance brand awareness, boost customer loyalty, and drive financial success for brands – both big and small. The partnerships created through co-branding initiatives can be rewarding for both parties involved, with each brand bringing its unique strengths and competencies to the table. 

However, like any business strategy, co-branding comes with its challenges. Fortunately, brands can overcome these challenges by negotiating every critical aspect of the partnership, defining objectives, and ensuring clear communication throughout the partnership. If done correctly, co-branding can create mutually beneficial and lucrative ventures that deepen customer trust, open new markets, and cultivate a better public image and reputation. Brands must, therefore, assess if co-branding aligns with their business objectives and decide if the investment is worth it. 

Overall, co-branding presents brands with an opportunity to build a culture of innovation and creativity, while improving customer satisfaction through unique collaborations and shared visions.

the writer


Copywriter @Iconosquare

Hi! I'm Marvellous, huge fan of Iconosquare as a product, and determined to help experienced social media marketers thrive in the various aspects of their career.


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