5 Tips For Choosing The Right Brand Partner

Forging brand partnerships

Choosing the right brand partner is critical, whether it’s for co-branding, cross-promotions, brand alliances or even strategic joint ventures.

Brand partnerships can do wonders for your business, but if you don’t choose your brand partner carefully, the partnerships may not show results, or in rare circumstances, may even cause harm to your brand.

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.

This quote holds true for brand partnerships. Carefully choosing, who and who not to engage with, is vital for the success of brand partnerships.

Here’s 5 tips on how to choose your brand partners:

1. Alignment With Goals

It’s important that you define your goals before identifying prospective brand partners.

Some common goals include:

  • Extending your marketing reach by acquiring new customers or new markets
  • Added value for existing customers
  • New revenue streams (e.g. co-branded products)
  • Building customer engagement and loyalty
  • Reiterate your brand positioning and increase brand equity

Defining your goals are integral to being able to identify the right brand partners.

When Ikea launched its Lattjo play collection in late 2015, it partnered with Dreamworks to create a series of animated shorts featuring characters from the new collection.

Ikea was clear on its goals. It wanted its new collection to appease children and what better partner than Dreamworks to grab the attention of kids!

2. Customer Alignment

An important consideration in choosing your brand partner is customer alignment. Do you and your brand partner share similar customer segments?

If you’re catering to an entirely different customer segment, your brand partnership may not be effective.

Probably, the most common brand partnerships are between airlines and hotels. The customer segment is exactly the same and it makes perfect sense because they’re complimentary services.

Your brands don’t necessarily need to be complimentary, but at least they should share an overlapping customer segment.

A great example is GoPro and Red Bull. Both the brands have a very similar customer segment.

GoPro manufactures action cameras and Red Bull makes energy drinks. They share customers who are into adventure sports and high adrenaline activities. 

GoPro and RedBull's brand partnership

3. Brand Positioning & Brand Identity

What’s also important is brand positioning and brand identity. Does your partner brand enjoy a similar brand positioning as yours?

A great example is the partnership between BMW and Montblanc. Both the brands are positioned as luxury brands and so, they jointly launched the “Montblanc for BMW” collection of on-the-road and in-office products.

BMW and Montblanc's brand partnership

Let’s consider an example of a brand partnership that was a failure. Target and Neiman Marcus forged a partnership a couple years ago. Neiman Marcus is a luxury retailer and although Target isn’t positioned as low-cost (like Walmart), it still is a mass market department store and both brands don’t really go together.

Target and Neiman Marcus's brand partnership

They launched a holiday collection and the results were disastrous. Prices that Neiman Marcus customers may well be accustomed to don’t work at Target! They discounted the collection by over 70% and it was a large defeat for both brands.

4. Shared Values & Ethics

One of the most common mistakes companies make in seeking out brand partners is not looking at shared values and ethics.

Shell and Lego’s brand partnership lasted for 5 decades…

But came to an abrupt end.

One wonders how does Shell and Lego’s partnership make sense? What does one of the most loved TOY brands have to do with one of the largest oil production companies?

Lego ended its brand partnership with Shell

It all came tumbling down in 2014 when Greenpeace activists launched a massive campaign to urge Lego to end its 50 year old partnership to protest the oil giant’s plans to drill into the Arctic.

Sure, it made commercial sense to distribute Lego toys at Shell’s petrol stations in 26 countries. But it begs the question, did both brands share the same values? The answer came to light after 50 years.

5. Brand Scale

Sometimes (but not always) you should also consider how your brand’s scale compares with that of your brand partner.

Let’s say you want to cross-promote another brand and both brands mutually decide to promote each other on their websites. If the web traffic of one brand is much higher than that of the other, it may not be a fair partnership.

Of course, if you choose to use Madneto, you don’t need to worry about this because the tool measures the difference and gets other brands to promote the larger one and compensate for the extra traffic.

Measurement of website impressions

But, in certain situations the scale of your prospective brand partner matters and that, may just be the deciding factor for why you choose one brand partner over another.


Choosing the right brand partner plays a vital role in the success of brand partnerships.

Before identifying prospective brand partners, you must define what it is you would like to achieve from the partnership (e.g. new customers, loyalty, brand positioning, new revenue streams, etc.).

You and your brand must share a common customer segment. For instance, GoPro and Red Bull’s partnership was an amazing success because both brands have a similar customer segment – adventure or sports enthusiasts.

Brand positioning is also very important. BMW enjoyed a great partnership with Montblanc because both brands are positioned as luxury brands.

Shared values is a commonly ignored factor in brand partnerships. Lego and Shell’s partnership made great commercial sense but came to a terrible end because a much loved toy brand cannot have common values with a large oil company.

Sometimes, it’s also important to compare the scale of your brand with that of your brand partner, otherwise it may not lead to a fair partnership.

What factor plays the most important role for you in choosing a brand partner?

Paras is the founder and CEO of Madneto, the world's first cross promotion platform. He's been advising brands for over 5 years on marketing campaigns, specifically around cross promotion and brand partnerships.