This is a fine example of brands collaborating for mutual benefit, in what global trend forecaster, The Future Laboratory, has coined Symbiotic Branding. Collaboration used to be optional for brands that wanted to create buzz for e.g. a one-off product range, but now it’s the rule not the exception, as brand-jacking fast becomes the new branding norm.
Brands once had to rely on themselves to create products but now a web of collaborative interdependency is emerging in which the right brand affinity creates a compelling halo effect to engage consumers.
In the case of said (dream) champagne flutes, dynamic, über glam New York fashion house, Vera Wang (she of Triple A List celebrity wedding gown fame), collides head on with the British quality and craftsmanship of Wedgwood to jolt consumers into reappraising this otherwise traditionally classic brand. I love too that neither brand is promiscuous in their collaborations and even more, I love that it’s got me into Wedgwood – a brand I’d never previously considered buying.
Symbiotic branding presents an opportunity for companies to enter longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with other parties. Changing consumer tastes and fast market developments mean brands that are slow to innovate quickly could run into trouble. Nokia and Microsoft were struggling in the smartphone market before they banded together to create the Lumia smartphone (with Nokia’s market rocketing as a result).
In other acts of ‘Brandalism’, smart brands are using the expectations of one brand to convey the values of another - Oddbins used the stringent rules on citing the Olympics as a marketing vehicle for its discount deals. ‘We can’t mention the event, we can’t mention the city, we can’t even mention the year,’ read their campaign posters. ‘At least they can’t stop us telling you about this: Rococo Rosé, £17.’ This Oddbins’ campaign prompted a 22% rise in traffic to its website.
At Cirkle, we’ve been quick to adopt the trend with the formation of Cirkle Links - our strategic brand matching service that creates impactful and importantly, valuable partnerships. These can vary from short term quick win relationships like Gorillaz did with Converse, to those where here two brands fall in love to make a long term commitment like Redbull and Renault. Then there’s the more promiscuous type of partnership where strong brands tart themselves around without diluting their equity - seen with Marmite flavoured crisps from Walkers. Our recent Remington campaign for its electrical shavers took our media partnership with Men’s Health magazine to a product partnership with a dual branded shaver that went on sale exclusively in Boots stores, delivering an impressive 63% sales uplift.
What Symbiotic Branding means for brands. Symbiosis is becoming the natural state for big and small brands that are eager to maximise the benefits of thrift and appeal to a customer base that is increasingly open and participatory. Brands that continue to operate in silos, breaking open only for occasional collaborations, will be left behind by competitors that are maximising creativity and drawing on the customer base and networks of their affiliates.