Engage Purposefully: How MARCOM professionals can get the best out of brand partnerships, by Catch comms’ Injeel Moti

By Injeel Moti, managing director, Catch communications & Catch Academy.

Brands today have myriad choices when it comes to partnerships. From ensuring authenticity to proving the impact of those collaborations (all with seamless execution), it can be a challenging task to take on. Rule number one is that partnerships must be purposeful. They should serve a purpose that ties in with the business’s objectives & overall goals, be it a short-term goal or a long-term one.

Evolution in recent times has led to a whole lot of crossovers with marketing verticals, be it with PR, advertising, social media, live events & so on. Communications today span from strategic collaborations with like-minded brands to partnering with influencers, content creators, and working hand-in-hand with consumers through community groups in local neighbourhoods, devising creative AD briefs and so much more.

Communication/PR agencies are constantly receiving requests from clients, largely stemming from needs of comfort and familiarity, wanting one agency partner to look over multiple facets of their marketing operations. How does one ensure that impactful partnerships are made and what factors are to be considered?

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One thing that’s incredibly important to keep in mind when considering a partnership is perception. Undeniably perception is reality and in a world that is as visual as ours, perception is everything. Thus, having that reflected in brand partnerships is vital too.

Associating a face with a brand is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Brands have been engaging in this for decades, from the good ol’ celebrity culture to influencers and personalities today, it remains true to form. Surely it is a very personal decision and can greatly impact how a brand is perceived by consumers.

Today the merging of peoples’ personal & professional lives has become something of interest. Distressing global events and increased connectivity have led to individuals showing a lot of vulnerability, being forthcoming with opinions, raising their voices on political issues & such, all of which forms part of their social presence framework and contributes towards the overall perception. A thorough assessment of how someone today is perceived holds more value than their following in numbers and must be thoroughly vetted.

Partnering with the infamous or an individual who might be enjoying short-lived fame by achieving the ‘viral’ status on one said app, might not be the best strategy either, as it will quickly combust.

Celebrities. Micro-influencers. Nano-influencers. Everyday consumers. Traditional journalists. Bloggers. There are more types of influencers in the media space than ever before, which makes decisions about whom to engage and work with key. The vetting process, therefore, goes a lot deeper than followers & engagement today.

Shared Values & Ethics

Straight-forward, and usually a yes of course in meetings, but not always followed through. One of the most common mistakes companies make in seeking out brand partners is not looking at shared values and ethics. Irrespective of the nature of the partnership, core beliefs must be a topic of discussion with ‘mutual agreement’ being the desired goal.

A beauty brand that harps on its cruelty-free label must engage in partnerships that share the same values & vice versa. Questions to ask could be ‘Does he/she/it condone brands that engage in animal testing? ‘Will the event/venue/owner have policies in place or consider this an important cause?’

Engaging in a partnership where values are not aligned can negate the entire effort & tarnish a brand’s image for years to come.

Customer Alignment

This holds of high importance when it comes down to working with community groups or partaking in on-ground events, aka engaging with consumers directly, whilst eradicating any channel in between.

Your message, offering & USP must stand out and more importantly connect with the receiver.

For example, if both your brand and its partners are geared toward working mothers or college students, it makes sense for one brand to drive its consumers to the other. That’s when audience alignment truly becomes a benefit to all parties, including prospective buyers, who may find that the partnership helps them find products they need more easily.

When considering audience alignment for partners, look beyond just demographic groups or audience segments. It’s more about making sure you are thinking about who needs your products and will be a consumer — if not immediately, then in the near future.

Irrespective of the marketing vertical you are exercising; all the above factors will play a role and must be considered to ensure an informed decision is made and success is achieved.