Brand Collabs as a Strategy

May 2, 2019


Want a $50,000 fridge? What about high-tops that order pizza? Donut running shoes? Or how about a speaker system that doubles as a shelf?

Brand collaboration is everywhere, and spans from the surprisingly practical to the outright outrageous—the mass rollout to the niche production. And Supreme is just on everything.

What was once a character trait for startups is now a strategy adopted by some of the biggest brands around… But we’re probably not telling you anything you haven’t already noticed.

The logic behind these moves makes sense: you attach your name to a brand who is in a totally different market than yours (donuts/shoes, high-end fashion/kitchen appliances) but its audience shares similar desires and “presto!” your brand is exposed to a whole new audience. But looking back on these collabs, we couldn’t help ourselves but ask a couple simple questions…

What’s the big picture?

Where is this collaboration taking you? Nike saw the connection between its athletes and their training gear beyond the shoes on their feet. Partnering with Apple helped Nike interject itself into the entertainment portion of training without having to develop the tech from top to bottom. It helped streamline tech in training. A big idea.

But what’s more common today are collaborations with shorter shelf lives. Splashes in the ocean. Sacai and The North Face. Sacai and Nike. Supreme and everyone. Fashion changes with the seasons, so too these collaborations.

What’s the goal?

Is a brand collaboration simply piggybacking on a world event like a basketball tournament or Game of Thrones episode? Because just as those things come and go, so too does the weight of any collaboration.

Does it make sense?

Pizza is in your house one minute, gone the next. For that, the connection between food and fashion seems to fall flat for Pizza Hut’s Pie Tops. Dolce and Gabbana, while exorbitantly expensive, probably has a similar shelf life to a fridge. So while a $50,000 fridge sounds crazy, it at least makes sense from a brand relativity perspective. 

What do we know?

We helped local Cincinnati company HGC Construction collaborate with local brewery Taft’s Ale House to develop the Builder’s Brew: a beer created entirely for HGC Group employees. The goal wasn’t to sell suds or grab hold of the craft beer bubble. The goal was to show employees that they were valued and that their work mattered enough to be canned, delivered, and enjoyed. See their tasty video below.

So what’s the main takeaway? Before investing time and money in a brand collaboration, ask the questions you ask of your product, your designers, your strategists and anyone else: Is the strategy built to last?

Want to talk more about brand collaboration? Contact us.