Tricky enough with people never mind with companies and all the commercial expectation and pressure that brings. Luckily, we have lawyers to shed light on potential darkness and bring harmony, common sense and protection to business life.
How to achieve a successful meeting of hearts, minds, objectives and deliverables – and enjoy a fruitful relationship – were the core themes of Mishcon De Reya’s Retail Academy on ‘Brand Collaboration as a Platform for Growth’, which we attended last week.
We had wise counsel to take an audience of start-ups and entrepreneurs through the possible minefields.
The panel featured four leading experts: Daniel Avener – CEO, MDR Brand Management, Lewis Cohen – Partner, Innovation, Mishcon de Reya, Angela Farrugia – Founder of Brand x Society (Moderator), and Fiona Lambert – Brand Advisor, Vice President of The Twenty Club and former Managing Director of Jaeger at M&S.
They pointed out that brand collaborations, if well considered, can be an undeniably powerful tool for growth. From the quirky to the controversial, the innovative to the traditional, partnerships between brands can be highly effective ways to grow both markets and revenue for the respective parties.
All the key ingredients - brand, commercial, creative and legal – needed for a successful collaboration were covered. Here’s what we learned:
1. Get the basics right
Peter Drucker, famed management consultant got the starting point right when he said, in the 1970’s, about brand partnerships that the first question is not "what do we want to do," it is, "what are the partners' goals, the partners' objectives, what is value for the partner, how does the partner work and operate?" Once this is understood and accepted, the alliance will work.” And indeed, this still makes sense.
He should have added, get a good lawyer and a sensible contract. Here’s some detail from the event.
To anyone thinking of a brand partnership, to repeat, consider your objectives, why are you doing it and why might your partner be doing it – and do these fit? Not every business or in-house lawyers has the time, resources or bandwidth to engage in these fundamentals.
2. Be clear about the reasons why
They are many and various, ranging from reaching a new territory, gaining short term revenue, buying credibility, driving footfall/ sales, reaching a new audience, range extension, changing lanes, tactical gain (creating noise) versus the strategic plan.
3. Detail the practical issues
For example – and these are a few thoughts from a long list - but might include what if the businesses are different sizes, or if it is a genuine collaboration or an opportunity to gain new IP. Or who will own the IP / trademark of anything new created. Do you have relevant trade mark protection for the goods and services in the geographies/categories relating to the collaboration goods/services; it's particularly worth checking whether someone else have IP protection that you might be infringing or that you have not previously agreed not to use your IP in those geographies/categories? Or what distinguishing elements of your brand mark can you comfortably use which signal that its your brand without using the actual TM. Or who owns the new customer/ and the data that results from it. If you are in the same category there will be less of a learning curve than if your partner is in a different market entirely.
4. Listen to your brand's heart
Your current and potential new consumer – what is it going to make them think/ feel about you? Ultimately does a collaboration create something that is exciting and new rather than confuse / alienate your existing customer.
5. Acknowledge resources
If you are the smaller partner, do you have the physical/ technical/ practical/ legal resources to provide what is needed throughout on time, in order to meet the timescales laid out to deliver the collaboration. Is this going to distract you too much from the actual running of your day-to-day business which needs lots of your time/ energy/ resource. How will you PR it/ who will own the Marketing Comms about the new product?
6. The red lines
E.g. what are the non-negotiables, the parts of your brand DNA you are not willing to compromise on? What are you willing to give away?
‘Ultimately collaborations needs alignment and a matched emotional passion on both sides for them to work’ said New York Times chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman.
So, with that in mind, here were a number that received an honorary mention, together with one of our own clients’: Cordura.
Clarks Shoes x Moncler and Clarks x Zara
Louis Vuitton x Supreme
Babolat x Michelin tyres
Nike x Tiffany
Manolo Blahnik x Birkenstock
Cordura x North Face
Our client Cordura - an internationally recognised ingredient brand - marked their 50th anniversary by creating a series of product collaborations and new fabrics dedicated to helping consumers 'Live Durable'. The new innovations were built on the brand's durable 50-year heritage.
Anew is in the brand relationship business
Well, we do pride ourselves on the strong collaborative relationships we enjoy with our clients and their brands. Here is the work we have done to make them happy.
We are a London-based luxury brand agency who have helped companies - such as Bombardier Private Aviation, Universal Music, Hatch Mansfield and Boodles luxury jewellers - increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.
Whether it’s insight from market research, strategic brand thinking, a new branding name, logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we are here to help all ambitious luxury brands.
We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.
To get in touch do drop us an email. We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually to discuss your brief.