Brand collaboration: a universe for brands to explore

Partnerships between complementary brands – that is, brands that do not compete with each other but often address similar audiences – offer real possibilities for companies that are looking to expand both their reach and customer base. In addition, a successful brand collaboration allows a reduction of the marginal costs associated with the effort of reaching larger audiences: the good, if affordable, twice as good.

Companies of all sizes have embarked on collaboration projects with other brands. Some notable recent cases include Google with Nestle (which took place during the release of the KitKat version of Android) and the one with Nike and Apple (for tech-enhanced sportswear and gadgets). It is important to note the difference that exists between brand collaboration and strategic partnership. The latter is explained by reasons that are key to the basic functioning of a company – think supply chain stability in the case of Apple and the China-based manufacturer Foxconn. Brand collaboration, on the other hand, is a voluntary, friendly partnership between companies that pursue better experiences for their customers and mutual benefit, all at once.  

Additionally, brand collaboration gets better when small and medium-sized brands are involved. Big brands not only rely on bulkier budgets to develop their marketing strategies but also have to deal with more diverse audiences and higher levels of exposure, a mix that can easily snowball into taking unnecessary risks. In contrast, smaller brands usually talk to sort-of homogeneous audiences and often deal with limited branding resources, a scenario that means nothing but fertile soil for collaboration: there’s much more to be won than lost there.

We’ve found a little-known case to highlight the appeal of brand collaboration schemes: a joint project between the Peruvian fashion brand M.bö with Cumbres, a company that produces premium craft beer from Andean grains like quinoa. A question arises: why would a fashion brand partner with a beer maker?

To begin with, a bit of perspective: it’s not any fashion brand partnering any beer brand here. M.bö is hip and urban, a trait shared with specialty craft beers like Cumbres. Secondly, both brands are growing, a process that often demands high rates of investment. Third, they share audiences in similar markets. These elements set the perfect atmosphere for a successful collaboration.

For example, if Cumbres wants to draw M.bö’s customers attention at supermarkets, a stylish label for its bottles would be a great move. In the same manner, if M.bö wants to reach the same audience that Cumbres does at supermarkets, it can’t just place its clothing line there. A simple solution took place: they provided the stylish label for the beer bottles, and collaboration began. Both brands have been working together for a few months now, exploiting their strengths for mutual benefit and providing unique experiences, prominently through a series of fashion events. Guess who’s providing the drinks for the fashion events?

This is just a minor example of the possibilities that thoughtful, well-developed collaboration can do for brands. In order to achieve meaningful results, brand collaboration demands a strong strategy and a good amount of feasibility analysis, but it all starts with a question: which brand out there would do great with yours? Time to start connecting the dots.

4 questions to evaluate your brand’s online presence

Nowadays, every brand – big or small – needs a consistent online presence. An articulated, strategically planned, cost-effective presence is the ideal scenario, but not always the case. Reasons why a carefully developed online presence is necessary are multiple and fairly obvious:

  • Increasing the brand’s value
  • Boost revenue
  • Improve brand-audiences communication
  • Get valuable data from interactions

On the bright side, it’s good to notice that most brands make – or have made – significant efforts to build their online presences, though the results tend to be more diverse than successful. While there’s no common ground for evaluating pure success, we’ve made a small questionnaire to help shine a light on a brand’s online presence status – assuming they have one, of course. Here it goes:

  1. What do you know about your audiences? How did they start following you? Did you get them through paid campaigns or because of your awesomeness? Can you define your audiences using real data? Knowing who you’re dealing with makes things a lot easier for everyone, trust us.
  1. What are the interactions like? How do your audiences react to what you post? What percentage of your follower base interacts with your posts? Do they communicate with you? What are they saying? What are you saying? Reaping the benefits of great interactions requires both a strategy and an eye for detail to cover spontaneous situations. While the first can be defined beforehand, the second must be trained.
  1. Is there a strategy? Are you following a plan or just going where the wind blows? How is it working? What would you change?
  1. Is data driving your decisions? Information – in the form of hard data – should drive at least a portion of the things you do. A/B testing is a relatively inexpensive way to gather useful data about your online actions – from eyeballs to conversions, it shows what works and what doesn’t. Also, following up on the brand’s multiple actions – i.e. emailing campaigns, content uploads, responses – is a valid way to improve the quality of its online presence.

The questions above are useful to get an initial picture of the brand’s online presence. In addition, keeping track of related variables is a good habit and it will save both time and money in the future. Remember: asking the right questions is the first step towards the right path.

Why are hackathons important? Hint: it’s got little to do with software

What is a hackaton

Hackathons have become a welcome addition to the sometimes cold world of programming. In case you’re new to the term, a hackathon is a blend of the words ‘hack’ and ‘marathon’. Simply put, a hackathon is a competitive event in which different IT professionals form teams to develop a solution for a specific problem, usually lasting between a day and a week. While a handful of successful startups originated in hackathons, the true value of these events lies beyond product development.

Gems of the coding world

Hackathons offer many things besides the opportunity of creating the rare star-product in record time. Above everything else, hackathons are social events that bring people together: they provide a space for bonding and fun for a crowd that more often than not sees itself immersed into bleak, repetitive tasks. In hackathons, the pressure is auto-imposed, which tends to act as a motivational factor: for participants, there is no risk of failing beyond the limits set by the organizers, and while tight deadlines are part of the game, cut-throat environments are exceptional. There will be no angry bosses at the end of it, and there is no risk of getting fired or yelled at for participants.

On top of this, there are perks for companies: it wouldn’t be wrong to label hackathons as a recruiter’s paradise: having the chance to observe developers doing their best against the ticking clock is not something that happens every day. All things considered, hackathon organization should be present in every software company’s HR agenda: the events infuse motivation, help develop stronger multi-level staff bonds and serve to evaluate the pool of professionals for any given IT sub-area.  

Sponsoring a hackathon: yay or nay?

As every other corporate decision, sponsoring a hackathon must undergo careful consideration. Doing so because ‘it will make us look cool’ is not nearly a good enough reason to do it. A list of the most important questions before deciding to sponsor a hackathon includes:

  • Are there any direct connections between the company and the goal of the event?
  • Will the event benefit my company in any way, even if in an intangible one?
  • Is it economically viable?
  • Are there any hidden risks to consider?

And finally,

  • Which hackathon is right for my company?

As it happens, hackathons can vary a lot, ranging from small, low-key events to ultra-competitive, heavily prized ones. It’s shouldn’t be hard to pick the right one, but nevertheless, a bit of attention is required. On a more personal note, our favorite upcoming events are:

You can check out more options here, or else you can just ask us: we’d be happy to help you pick the best event to suit your needs. To conclude, have you ever attended a hackathon that’s worth the mention? We’d love to hear your experience about it!