Brand Partnerships, Co-Branding, and Influencer Brand Collaborations: What’s the Difference?

Branding

2 neon hands shaking

Contents

34 min read

The terms ‘brand partnership’ co-branding’ and ‘brand collaborations’ are often used interchangeably and this can cause confusion among both audiences and businesses.

Although slight, there are differences between the three as partnerships usually occur over longer periods of time, co-branding could consist of just 1 new product, and a collaboration can be as small as one sponsored social media post.

However, when done right, each of these collaborations are a win-win for everyone involved.

Successful co-branding means that success for one brand means success for their partner brand as well. It also means that there is a deeper well of creativity, resources and customer base for both brands to utilise.

However, it’s not just about partnering with just any brand that has a large customer base.

Because you’re basically leveraging each other’s customers’ trust and brand loyalty, it’s essential that you consider the added value that your partnership or collaboration can give both of your customer bases.

It’s not a good look to align yourself with a brand (whether that be a person or an organisation) whose values and mission statement are at odds with your own.

Therefore, it can be difficult to know which brand would be a good fit for a partner, and where to start the process of working with another business to create a shared product or service.

In this post we will be outlining some precise definitions of brand partnerships, co-branding, and influencer and brand collaborations, in order to avoid confusion, and highlighting top examples to give you inspiration in each area, so let’s jump in!

What is a Brand Partnership?

A brand partnership is different from a collaboration, as this involves a mutual agreement between two brands to use both brand names strategically in order to join together and create something new.

The best brand partnerships are truly something special, as they can add significant value to their combined customer base or send a powerful message.

One key component to this type of working relationship, is that partnerships can adopt a longevity that collaborations can’t, as two brands can often continue to work together year on year, based on the success of the product, service, or campaign created.

RedBull and GoPro’s strategic partnership springs to mind here, which we will touch on more below!

The important thing to note about brand partnerships is that each brand can bring their own identity to join together, create something new or something that has never been done before.

Through this, companies can help one another to flourish by increasing exposure, adding value and credibility, and breaking into new markets and audiences.

Ultimately, mutual values and the ability to be able to produce something of real value to both brands’ customers is the most important aspect of forging a successful brand partnership. So it’s worth doing your research before considering collaborating with another brand.

This applies to both established businesses, and start up founders as you need to choose a brand that aligns with your own.

The Best in Brand Partnership Examples

With that in mind, we have collated a list of some of the greatest brand partnerships that you won’t want to miss, showcasing how to use the strengths of two major brands to create a partnership that lasts, and a campaign or product that isn’t easily forgotten.

IKEA manual and people playing with lego

LEGO and IKEA

This is definitely an example of a brand partnership made in heaven!

Just about everyone has fond memories of playing and building cool things with LEGO at some point in their lives. Likewise, most of us have, at some point, built something from IKEA.

Ever noticed how the process feels surprisingly similar? Well, someone involved in making this brand partnership happen sure must have, because in 2020, IKEA launched their new BYGGLEK collection in partnership with LEGO.

Aimed squarely at parents and kids, this new collection introduced a new range of storage boxes with LEGO studs on the lids, alongside a new exclusive LEGO set.

The idea behind the collaboration is to remove a barrier to children’s play and learning, as well as introducing a sense of playfulness to storage solutions that children and adults alike can enjoy. Speaking on the new collection, IKEA’s designer had this to say:

“Where adults often see mess, children see a stimulating creative environment”
Andreas Fredriksson, designer at IKEA of Sweden

The BYGGLEK range serves as both a secure play location that helps keep LEGO projects securely in one place, as well as providing attractive and functional storage solutions for families.

This is a perfect example of two brands with similar values collaborating to create a unique range of goods that offers significant value to both of their customer bases.

Brewdog x Aldi
Credit to The Press and Journal

Aldi and Brewdog

This brand partnership was truly a thing of beauty to see unfolding in August 2020.

Following German supermarket chain Aldi announcing on social media that they were releasing a new IPA beer titled Anti Establishment IPA. In no time eagle-eyed fans of both companies couldn’t help noticing the branding similarities to BrewDog’s own Punk IPA beer.

Now, this could have turned ugly if BrewDog took issue with the discount copycat beer, but instead BrewDog founder, James Watt, took to Twitter to give Aldi some lighthearted ribbing over the similarities.

What started off as banter over BrewDog rebranding their beer to Ald IPA with Aldi-esque colours and can packaging design, ended up turning into a genuine collaboration between the two brands. Best of all, both brands pledged to plant a new tree each in the BrewDog forest with every crate of Ald IPA beer sold.

This is an example of two brands seeing a golden opportunity and jumping on it. Following enquiries from customers querying if the collaboration would be made real, they clearly saw the mutual benefit in partnering on this product: a shared value of giving back to the environment was also a stroke of genius to bring more customers in.

Not only does this story show the strength of a good brand partnership, it also illustrated the power of social media for brands when well-managed.

This beer definitely needs to feature in our roundup of awesome beer packaging!

Nike Apple Brand Partnership

Nike and Apple

Nike and Apple have a brand partnership that has been going strong since 2006, and at a New York event attended by sports icons of the time Lance Armstrong (bit awkward in hindsight, that one) and Paul Radcliffe, Nike and Apple CEOs Mark Parker and Steve Jobs unveiled Nike+ – the first product of their long brand partnership.

The idea behind the collaboration was to bring music and activity tracking to their customers workouts. Originally, activity trackers, shoes and clothing was designed that would connect to the wearer’s ipod so they could track their activity and listen to music on the same device.

This has since evolved into the long term brand collaboration known as Nike+ and has continued to go from strength to strength.

This brand partnership is a genius move that recognised that there was a direct connection between music and exercise and knew exactly how to capitalise on that and add value to both of their customer bases.

It’s also worth noting that this brand partnership is much better than when Apple went into business with U2 and pre-installed the latest U2 album when people updated their iOS software.

Forcing U2 onto people is bad for business.

man standing on Red Bull branded spaceship

Red Bull and GoPro

Red Bull and GoPro have been brand partners since 2016, and what we know about the partnership deal is a fantastic example of a brand collaboration that is mutually beneficial.

For their part, Red Bull receives equity in GoPro during the partnership, while GoPro got the exclusive provider rights for point-of-view imaging technology at all of Red Bull’s productions and events.

This partnership followed in the wake of probably their best-known brand collaboration, 2014’s Stratos event, shown during that year’s Super Bowl. Audiences saw renowned skydiver and daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s triple record-breaking jump from 24 miles above the earth.

The whole jump was caught with a crystal-clear first-person shot from the pod door hovering above the earth right through to Felix’s safe landing. Probably not great if you’re afraid of heights, but this 30 second video was an exhilarating experience to watch as it almost made you feel like you were falling with him.

Both brands put out an image of excitement, high energy and adventure. It made perfect sense for them to team up on the ultimate thrill ride that was the Stratos jump. What makes even more sense is that this led to a long-term partnership for both brands, as much of their values and public image are well-aligned.

Brand Partnership - Vans and Everyone

Vans and Everyone

Renowned skate shoe brand Vans have literally crafted brand partnerships with most big brands around the world.

They’ve worked with:

  • Disney
  • National Geographic
  • Toy Story
  • Harry Potter
  • Spongebob Squarepants

And more! They’ve even partnered with the Foo Fighters.

For everyone involved in these partnerships, it’s a huge win-win scenario.

Disney give Vans the licensing and rights to their characters, patterns, and trademark style, Vans design and manufacture the shoe.

Both Disney and Vans split the profits. Both brands double down on the marketing.

The shoes sell out. Or I assume that’s how it works!

What’s not to like? A great use of everyone’s resources, to drive bottom line business results.

If your brand or business specialise in one thing, let’s say Accounting. Then it might be a good idea to partner with a Legal firm to offer some sort of “getting started” package or bundle that helps get companies out of the gates!

BurgerKing logo and McDonalds logo

McDonalds and Burger King

This definitely takes the prize for most heartwarming brand partnership on our list.

McDonalds and Burger King’s brand rivalry is pretty legendary at this point. However, in 2019, they put aside their differences in the name of raising money for charity.

At the time, McDonald’s were holding an annual event where they donated $2 for every Big Mac sold to children’s cancer charities.

In a wonderful show of setting aside differences for a good cause Burger King Argentina, as well as a few other countries, launched their ‘A Day Without a Whopper’ campaign, where they removed their own signature burger from their menus and actively encouraged their customers to buy a McDonald’s Big Mac instead.

While it’s unclear whether or not this actually had any impact on increasing the number of Big Macs sold that day, Burger King especially came out of that campaign looking particularly rosy. The warmhearted campaign earned a lot of goodwill online and gave both brands some great word-of-mouth buzz.

If you’re looking for great examples of brand marketing, take a look at what Burger King do on a daily basis. They’ve hacked photography, WiFi, and all other sorts of creative marketing to try and upstage Big Ronald.

Yeezy black trainers

Kanye West and Adidas

It’s a little odd thinking of an individual person having a ‘brand’ but that is exactly what Kanye West has.

In 2016, Adidas struck a deal with the Grammy award-winning rapper to collaborate on a high-end exclusive line of footwear. The resulting limited edition Yeezy line was a resounding success, both for Adidas, who were able to score a significant win over their main rival brand Nike, but also for Kanye West and his own burgeoning fashion line.

While brands partnering with celebrities to leverage their personal brand and celebrity status is nothing new, Kanye and Adidas achieved something much bigger with their collaboration. It’s also truly more of a brand partnership, as Yeezy is entirely Kanye West’s brand baby.

This brand partnership really shows the magic that can happen when two brands recognise their strengths and compatibility. Kanye’s unique style of dress was already recognised and coveted by his fans. He was also looking to start his own brand of high-end fashion. Meanwhile, Adidas were busy building their own streetwear line of clothing.

These similar goal alignments and a compatible public image meant that both of their customer bases were more likely to react favourably to their brand partnership.

Indeed, as of 2020, the collaboration has grown to become a multi-billion dollar partnership to rival Nike’s iconic Air Jordans line.

Not bad for a celebrity collaboration, right?

Disney logo and MAC logo

M.A.C and Disney

High-end make-up brand M.A.C is certainly no stranger to brand partnerships and celebrity collaborations, having partnered with the likes of Rihanna, Ellie Goulding and Barbie, to name a few.

Today, however, we are focusing on their 2019 partnership with Disney. At the time, Disney was busy promoting the latest live action remake of their classic animations – this time, the 90s favourite, Aladdin.

What really made this collaboration stand out was the amount of work that went into creating the makeup range. M.A.C have such an iconic image and a strong reputation for their high quality makeup that it may well have been enough to focus on the makeup itself while maintaining their sleek matte black packaging with only a stylish nod to Aladdin.

Instead, as well as creating a makeup range with colours designed to reflect the character of Jasmine in the movie, the packaging was also beautifully designed in hues of gold, green and purple. They also featured Jasmine’s actress, Naomi Scott prominently in their marketing campaign.

For Disney, this partnership served to drum up more awareness in their new movie (if not more interest), as well as an additional revenue stream from partnering with the high profile makeup brand. For M.A.C, it helped maintain their reputation as a brand with its finger firmly on the social pulse.

Additionally, this was an exclusive limited run makeup range, and once it was gone, that was it, thus creating a sense of urgency for customers to buy it while they could.

H&M logo and Alexander Wang logo

H&M and Alexander Wang

H&M are another brand that are no strangers to brand collaborations. In fact, every year they partner with a different high-end designer brand to release a limited run exclusive line of clothing. In the past, they have collaborated with the likes of Versace, Karl Lagerfeld and Balmain, to name but a few of the big name designers.

So what makes 2014’s partnership with Alexander Wang so special? Well, for a start, this range sold out in record time and actually crashed the H&M website servers upon release.

That’s notable in itself.

The other factor was a very clever marketing campaign that successfully ignited interest in the collaboration.

The partnership was first announced in May via Alexander Wang’s Instagram shortly before a Coachella party hosted by the two brands. Later, following a slew of strategic press releases and social media teases, they brought singer Rihanna (pre-Fenty Beauty) onboard as a brand ambassador. By the time the range was finally released in November that year, social media hype for the collaboration was at an all-time high.

(We previously wrote a piece on some other great marketing campaigns, if you want to read more on this subject.)

What really sold this brand collaboration though, was the fact that Alexander Wang, for all that they are a high-end designer brand, very much appeals to a younger demographic, and are known to be one of the brands regularly leading the charge on seasonal trends.

While this kind of brand partnership clearly benefits H&M, as it helps position their brand as trendy and fashionable, as well as cashing in on that exclusivity factor, it’s fair to ask what a designer brand gets out of the deal. Well, simply put, it helps to create a bond with a new consumer base that will potentially aspire to purchase more designer items in the future.

Truly a win-win for both brands involved.

Spotify logo next to a Starbucks cup

Spotify and Starbucks

Forbes called this brand partnership “digital co-branding genius” when it was announced in 2015. And, honestly, they weren’t exaggerating.

When Spotify and Starbucks teamed up, they created a first-of-its-kind musical ecosystem.

As part of the partnership, Spotify gave Starbucks employees access to premium accounts where they could create playlists that could be played in the shop throughout the day. For Starbucks patrons, they could access the playlists via the Starbucks Rewards mobile app.

Additionally, customers could also earn ‘Stars as Currency’ for ‘My Starbucks Rewards’ points that can be redeemed in-store.

The partnership also encouraged active participation with their customers by inviting them to create their own Starbucks playlists that could not only be played in-store, but was something they could also access at home.

As well as being well known for their coffee and cultivating a coffee house culture, Starbucks has a long history of supporting up and coming musicians. Spotify has also championed amplifying the discoverability of brand new artists. On virtually every level, this was a perfect brand pairing.

Their fully integrated and customer-immersive collaboration offered something of value to both of their customer bases, as well as allowing both brands to reach new potential customers without sacrificing anything of their own personal brands.

It really doesn’t get much better than this!

Greggs x Primark Clothing for their brand partnership

Greggs and Primark

“Take two beloved high street chains and mash them together.”

That was seemingly the design brief that the Greggs and Primark teams followed when going into partnership together in early 2022. By the looks of things, they certainly weren’t looking to win any fashion awards!

So what happened here?

Sausage roll and pastry maker, Greggs baked up a brand partnership with high street fashion retailer Primark, to create a limited run of Greggs clothes.

First of all, Greggs left half eaten pasties and bakery products in Primark display stands, then they launched the fashion line.

Then, quicker than eating the aforementioned sausage roll, the entire range had sold out.

Why?

It’s interesting, it’s unique, and people knew the range would be hard to come by.

Brand partnerships like this one are so left field, that there’s not a whole load of explaining to do. The marketing teams motivated the masses, and the rest is history.


rayban sunglasses with facebook logo

Raybans and Facebook

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled the company’s debut smart glasses, as a result of a brand partnership with Rayban.

These cool, super-tech glasses are designed to allow users to listen to music, capture photos, shoot short videos, and take calls, all through the power of their sunnies!

Users can then choose to share the content they capture on Facebook’s social media , such as Instagram and Whatsapp. It’s a great win-win for both of brands, as Rayban will sell more sunglasses and Facebook will have a plethora of new content across various channels.

Although Facebook’s primary revenue source is from advertising, they have also made a significant investment in virtual and augmented reality, so this ties beautifully into where the company is headed.

It firmly sets the social media giant on the path to building a metaverse – a virtual reality world comprising of virtual environments and online platforms that allows users to interact with one another

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg said, “We believe for a long time that glasses are going to be an important part of building the next computing platform.”

Despite concerns over privacy, Facebook has told users that they will not access the content produced by the smart glasses without first obtaining consent.

hands together in a pile

What is Co-Branding?

Next up we have co-branding, which is more often than not confused with brand partnerships and the terms are often used interchangeably, however:

Brand partnerships aren’t the same as co-branding as the relationship between the two parties has a lot more longevity.

Instead Co-branding is an effort made by two or more brand names, whereby a new product or service is created.

All brands will bring their resources and brand identities to the table in order to combine them, meaning all parties have input, and therefore reap the benefits!

But yes, can you see why some people get confused now that we’ve defined both separately?

Take Doritos x TacoBell as an example:

Both brands came together to create a single cross over menu item “Doritos Locos Taco”, which consisted of a taco shell made using the Doritos chip recipe, filled with Taco Bell fillings.

Pretty straightforward!

But, the idea behind this co-brand was to combine the best of both brands to create a single product that successfully sold 1 billion units in 2012 alone.

Therefore, the synchronisation between the two brands who are looking to co-brand a product is essential as it must make sense. For example, Starbucks collaborating with a Guitar brand to create a new item might not exactly be a success, as there needs to be some sort of reasoning/ purpose behind it.

The Best in Co-Branding Examples

As promised, it’s now time to look at some examples of successful co-branding – examples to inspire you and show that anything is possible should you choose to run your own campaigns.

The Yeezy x Gap logo on a blank background
Credit to Yeezy Gap

Yeezy and Gap

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Kanye West and his clothing brand Yeezy, are highly successful. And it’s through this success that brands such as Adidas and Gap have collaborated with the Yeezy brand to create an exclusive line of high-end shoes and everyday clothing.

In the case of Gap, Yeezy being an extension of Ye’s personality led to the two forming a sub-brand. You can see this subbrand close-up on Instagram via yeezyxgap, which is the associated account for this collaboration.

Other than this account, Gap tends to handle the majority of the marketing, with Kanye chiming in every once in a while, not through traditional marketing, but through his own erratic way of selling things.

A Quick Update: As I’m writing this post Ye has since come out and ended the Yeezy relationship with both Gap and Adidas.

I’d still consider the co-brand between the two a success despite this news when you look at the buzz surrounding the collaboration, coupled with the fact that Gap grossed over $1 billion in incremental sales during the first year selling its Yeezy wares.

A Smeg x Disney fridge in the kitchen
Credit to Smeg

Smeg and Disney

Smeg, the handy appliance brand, is no stranger to co-branded campaigns – the most successful of which involves one of the largest brands there is period. I’m, of course, referring to Disney.

The two came together to release a limited edition fridge to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday. On the front of the fridge, you’ll find the popular mouse in black and white reaching for the handle as if he’s about to steal whatever’s inside.

First off, can you believe that Mickey Mouse is 90 years old? He looks pretty good for his old age, doesn’t he?

Second, what made this campaign feel like a right fit was the common values shared between the two brands. Both stand for optimism and love, not to mention, appreciation for family.

Personally, I wouldn’t buy this fridge as I think it’s a bit on the tacky side, but that didn’t stop others from going crazy for it.

Believe it or not, the fridge actually sold out rather quickly across many retailers when it dropped back in 2019, despite its high price tag.

Did you manage to get your hands on one?

A Ford x Harley Davidson F150 parked in a carpark
Credit to AutoEvolution

Ford and Harley Davidson

The automotive industry is full of successful co-branding examples too.

Ford and Harley Davidson, for example, found a lot of success for years by selling a range of co-branded trucks; trucks that, literally, look like Harley’s on four wheels in some instances – like with the F-150.

Seeing the iconic Harley Davidson logo on the back of the co-branded F-150 is slightly bizarre for anyone not aware of this collaboration; those who might only associate the Harley name with two-wheeled vehicles.

And yet, this collaboration works on so many levels!

Like some of the other co-branding examples mentioned above and below, Ford and Harley Davidson found success thanks to the similarities between both audiences. Both are American brands that pride themselves on offering a lot of utility, outside of being hella powerful and reliable.

Those originally questioning this collaboration quickly turned around once they began to see these connecting threads, which would lead to strong sales of this vehicle across many years.

The limited edition vehicles have since become quite the collector’s item on second-hand sites, with the value increasing year-on-year.

Various TV posters on a red background with the AirBnB and Flipboard logo in the corner
Credit to Flipboard

Airbnb and Flipboard

Airbnb is the largest room-sharing application in the world, allowing people to easily find decent lodging options hosted by people in an area of their choice.

In 2018, the brand collaborated with news aggregator, Flipboard, to curate lifestyle content for its users and promote its own offering indirectly.

The success of the initial co-branded campaign led the two to work together a second time on a product known as Trips, which connected Airbnb users to hosts that shared common interests, such as what books they like to read and food they enjoy eating.

This co-branding example goes to show that one campaign can lead to bigger and better things should it be successful.

After all, nothing is stopping you from working with the same brands again if the first go around worked so well!

Airbnb/Flipboard have more than proven that.

influencer sat on chair recording

What are Influencer and Brand Collaborations?

Finally, to round off this post we have influencer and brand collaborations.

Put simply, a brand collaboration is more of a marketing effort, particularly if influencers are involved.

A collab can be defined as an alliance between any two brands, in order to create or promote a specific product or service.

In this instance a brand could be a person, a company, an organisation, and in some cases even an animal (which we will dive into below!)

Brand collaborations involve using one brand to help sell your brand further, either to a wider audience or a new audience altogether.

Brand collabs can also include the creation of a product using both brand identities, for example creating a pair of Nike’s with limited edition Gucci laces.

Therefore, unlikely collabs between two opposite brands can work really well in helping to broaden engagement in a new territory.

Brand collaborations can come in various forms, such as:

  • Creation of a new product
  • Social media posts (including giveaways, competitions, and discount codes)
  • Unique content based around a certain product or service (such as images or videos)
  • Advertisements and campaigns

We will get into some examples in more detail below, however, when thinking about influencer and brand collaborations, it’s key to remember that both parties benefit from the collaboration.

Whether this be through free products in exchange for content, or an influencer becoming the face of a product for a limited time to increase brand awareness.

The Best in Influencer and Brand Collaboration Examples

Now we have covered exactly how brand partnerships, brand collaborations and co-branding can benefit organisations, and the differences between the three, it’s time to focus on influencer and brand collaborations.

We have collated a selection of some of the best influencer and brand collaboration examples below, that show how people can use their own personal brands to boost and promote the brands they work with, so let’s get started.

man jumping off slip and slide
Credit to Search Engine Watch

Subaru #MeetAnOwner Campaign

The Subaru #MeetAnOwner Campaign is a great example to kick things off.

The company involved influencers in order to showcase the Subaru Impreza in various locations, in a variety of circumstances.

For example, influencer, Zach King, created video content for social media involving him impressing a date with the new Impreza parked on his driveway.

Another example, that’s for the adrenaline junkies among you, is influencer Devin Graham’s (known as @devinsupertramp) video content.

This involved a slip and slide off a 500 foot cliff, and in the canyon below was the Impreza.

The focus of this campaign was to bring memories and experiences to life that can be created with the vehicle, rather than the specific details of the car. This drove the company more towards the idea of intimacy and getting to know their customers on a more personal level, encouraging trust and customer loyalty.

This collaboration was to help attract millennial buyers by creating unique content focused on the car, and Subaru reported an increase in brand awareness after the videos were released.

the sorry girls pixelbook giveaway Instagrampost
Credit to Big Social Media Strategies Summit

Google x The Sorry Girls

Micro-influencers or influencers in general aren’t just for brands with a smaller budget, as we can learn from the example with Google.

Google worked with 2 DIY influencers known as The Sorry Girls, to promote the new Pixelbook laptop.

The influencers ran a giveaway of the laptop via their Instagram page, that had a following of over 100,000 at the time, asking followers to comment on how they would use the product.

Due to the following on the account, and the relationship the two influencers had previously built with their audience, this ensured a large proportion of followers responded and got involved with the giveaway.

This example shows the power of small and simple brand collaborations, as the one post yielded an engagement rate of nearly 60%.

This projected Google’s latest product to a new audience, encouraging more interaction with their brand, and followers to consider purchasing a Pixelbook regardless of whether they won the giveaway or not!

Uniqlo x Keith Haring campaign in store
Credit to Grailed

Uniqlo x Keith Haring

Tokyo based fashion brand Uniqlo produces affordable clothing and accessories, and have been known to produce collaborations in the past.

However, we were most interested in their collaboration with the political and graphic work of Keith Haring.

This is another example of a successful collaboration as Uniqlo offers very affordable clothing basics, and they mixed this with the vibrant cartoon-style designs of Keith Haring.

The clothing line mainly consisted of t-shirts and hoodies displaying a variation of the artists designs that were clean, quirky, affordable, and included various references to pop culture.

This collaboration was effective as each clothing piece referenced some of Haring’s most famous work created in Tokyo in the 1980’s, which pairs well with the company due to its founding in Japan.

Balmain x Barbie clothing imagery
Credit to Forbes

Balmain x Barbie

Barbie may not count as a typical influencer, but she certainly is a celebrity.

Therefore, the limited edition line created in collaboration between Balmain and Barbie, had to come next on the list.

This example highlights clearly what a brand collaboration is, as the pieces were created by luxury fashion house Balmain, and inspired by Barbie herself.

The line consisted of 50 unique unisex pieces from dresses, to coats, to bags, and incorporated the fun pink aesthetic that is associated with the Barbie brand across the globe.

The pieces were classic to the brand with sharp tailoring and feminine silhouettes, which worked in unison with the typical clothing and style of a Barbie doll.

The collaboration between Barbie and Balmain brought together two huge brands who have a great impact on fashion and culture today, adding fun to the fashion house’s brand, and couture to Barbie’s.

Travis Scott outside of Mcdonalds leaning on car
Credit to Insider

Travis Scott x McDonalds

Back in 2020 the “Travvy Patty” was born after Travis Scott was able to put his name to his favourite McDonalds meal.

It’s worth saying that the meal was essentially a regular Quarter-Pounder with bacon, however this didn’t stop some branches completely selling out.

This collaboration was clever in that it was fairly straightforward, as no new product needed to be created, just a rebrand of an existing product.

The collaboration went further than just the fast-food meal and merchandise was released too, resulting in a further rise in sales for the company.

The Travis Scott meal blew up online particularly on TikTok, and followers and fans got involved by sharing the different ways to order their meal, including pulling up to the window and blasting Scotts music to indicate their order.

The celebrity brand collaboration succeeded in promoting the fast food chain in a time of need to increase sales and regain engagement after the pandemic.

The highlight of this collaboration is how a small campaign can boost a brand by so much.

youtubers holding Nike boxes
Credit to YouTube – What’s Inside

Nike x What’s Inside?

In order to build buzz for their new products, Nike enlisted the help of the father and son duo behind the “What’s Inside?” YouTube channel.

The creators had over 6 million subscribers over their 2 channels at the time, and created 7 videos overall for Nike in the run up to the release of their VapourMax trainer.

The premise behind the channel was (and still is) cutting objects up to see what’s inside, so this made up the main video central to the collaboration.

Accompanying this was 7 other vlog and Q&A style videos focused around Nike’s brand messaging and values.

The main YouTube video received over 7 million views and the campaign helped to create interest and attraction to Nike’s latest products.

Although this may seem like an unlikely pairing for a brand collaboration, social media followers are a huge deciding factor when it comes to brands choosing who to collaborate with.

Influencers can help to propel a new product or service release, particularly at the start of a campaign, as they often have access to a wide, and more importantly, engaged audience.

Despite huge companies such as Nike in this instance having the bigger following, audiences tend to interact with a personal account, compared to a company account.

This is because influencers will spend time replying to comments and chatting to followers via direct messages, as this is part and parcel of their everyday job. Therefore, influencer collaboration can help to add a personal touch to your campaigns or new releases.

Doc Martens and Betty Boop sandals and boots
Credit to Hypebae

Doc Martens x Betty Boop

Much like the Balmain x Barbie collaboration we mentioned above, this crossover between cartoon icon Betty Boop and Doc Marten boots was the perfect fit.

With focus being upon feminism and liberation, this one time collaboration embodied exactly what both brands were about.

The boots, shoes, and sandals created for this collection were exactly the same as the usual gothic style, but with a feminine twist incorporating the character into the zippers and glossy prints.

This collaboration brought Betty Boop back onto the scene, encouraging people to “Be more Betty”, meaning to embrace wearing Doc Martens whoever you are.

Again, incorporating the iconic Betty Boop brand with shoes that have been going since the 60’s, injects a bit of fun into the Doc Martens brand, showing there are endless opportunities to mix brands.

This is a great example of a collaboration benefitting both parties as Betty Boop creates nostalgia for an audience who grew up with the character on-screen, and the company have incorporated her iconic look subtly into the shoes, making them wearable, while still a fun limited edition piece.

screenshot of Canadian Bro's Instagram post
Credit to Mention Me

Daniel Wellington x Canadian Bros

This is what we meant when we mentioned “animals as influencers.”

Daniel Wellington are a watch brand well known for collaboration with influencers, in fact they could be branded as one of the pioneers.

This particular collaboration allowed the company to reach a brand new audience, which is usually an advantage attached to most influencer and brand collaborations.

The target audience and following of the Canadian Bro’s account is mainly dog and animal lovers, as the account follows the lives of Jaspar the Pomsky and Louie the Eskimute, giving us posts from their perspective.

The Daniel Wellington collaboration was no exception.

Without losing their brand identity, and in fact using both brands together, the Canadian Bro’s owner created a post including one of the watches to help attract new leads.

The caption read: “I Got Dad the Classic Bristol 40mm RG”

Implying that the dog not only wrote the caption, but also bought the watch for his owner.

This created a collaboration post that was subtle rather than overbearing, as the image was mainly focused on one of the Insta-famous dogs, with the watch included in the corner, but understated.

This unlikely collaboration provided a fun and playful way to break into a new audience.

Gucci x North Face photoshoot on train platform
Credit to Highsnobiety

Francis Bourgeois x Gucci x North Face

This example could be seen as a triple brand collaboration in that both Gucci, The North Face and famous TikTokker Francis Bourgeois worked together for this campaign.

All three brands were incorporated into this shoot to celebrate the release of the new North Face x Gucci clothing line.

The clothing shoot was held aboard an Old English style train, as Bourgeois is known well online for being a train-spotter and enthusiast.

Instead of dressing Francis in the new range, they had him in a conductor’s uniform serving and checking the tickets of the models who wore the clothing instead to display the new styles.

This is a great example of a collaboration that benefits all parties involved, as Bourgeois brought a younger millennial audience to Gucci and The North Face via his huge following on TikTok.

Therefore, both Gucci and The North Face appeared far more open and willing to move with the times and expand their audience, using an influencer instead of a typical celebrity or model.

This not only reflected well on both brands but also Bourgeois’ brand too, promoting being yourself and doing what you love.

A great value for any brand to hold on to!

The Best of Brand Partnerships

That is our complete guide to brand partnerships, co-branding, and influencer and brand collaborations, we hope you’ve found it useful when it comes to tackling the key differences and understanding how each type of collaboration can benefit businesses.

Equally, we hope we haven’t confused you further, and hope this blog serves as a guide to differentiating the different ways brands can work together.

Whether it be a one time product release such as the Smeg x Disney collaboration, an ongoing partnership such as LEGO and IKEA, or the promotion of a product such as Google and the Sorry Girls, each example of brands working together fits neatly into one of the three definitions.

In case you’re still slightly unsure, we will summarise simply and clearly:

  • Brand collaborations tend to feature people and influencers and can be as little as one social media post
  • Brand partnerships tend to involve two bands working together over a longer period of time creating campaigns or products year on year
  • Co-branding is where two synchronised brands benefit from one another by co-creating a product or service

Here at Canny we like to think of ourselves as ‘in the know’ when it comes to branding, hence why we put together this in-depth post full to the brim of examples that we think are the best of the best. We work in branding, websites, and content, so can appreciate when a company (or two companies in this case) hit the nail on the head.

If you feel you could benefit from some branding support, whether it’s just your business or you and your partner, get in touch with our team today!