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Brand Partnerships Add Strength to Company Value & Values

Brand Partnerships Add Strength to Company Value & Values

Originally published on the Health Brand Group blog.

A trend I’ve been watching emerge is that of true brand partnerships.

I know, brand licensing and partnerships have been around for a long time. You’ve probably enjoyed ice cream made with Reese’s peanut butter cups or Girl Scouts Samoas cookies inside. And your Cole Haan shoes might have Nike Air soles.

Traditionally, this type of arrangement has been used to solidify positioning with a focus on strengthening a brand’s value proposition. And, at times, brand partnerships of this type can be used to influence consumers when making commodity purchase decisions for items like ice cream or toothpaste.

Emerging today, I see a new type of brand partnership–one that improves brand value while also adding strength to the brand’s values.

Yes, values.

Values are fundamental beliefs that individuals, groups of people, companies and even brands hold steadfast. Values provide guidance as we make decisions and evolve, as people and as brands. Values are our standards, and values are inherently human.

The adage is true: “You’re known by the company you keep.” And for brands, there is no exception.

Where before brands would partner on specific products, now they are partnering on a business level. A perfect case study is Starbucks. In recent years, Starbucks has established several partnerships with other brands, such as Square and Google.

Starbucks partnered with Square to revolutionize the payment processing aspect of its business, allowing customers to pay with their mobile phones. In this case, it is important to note that the partnership equally benefited Square by expanding its business to an entirely new level, obtaining access to Starbucks’ freelance customers (ready-made users for Square’s mobile payment application), and allowing the company to rapidly scale its business to reach local and small businesses across the country.

Starbucks’ partnership with Google will upgrade its free Wi-Fi for customers in stores across the country. In addition, the company will work with Google to co-develop the next generation of the Starbucks Digital Network, an in-store content platform serving up uniquely branded experiences for Starbucks customers.

These brand partnerships do what brand partnerships have always done. They work to increase the value proposition of Starbucks’ offerings to its customers. But they also go a step further.

They create an interconnected “lifestyle web” of affiliated brands.

Each of these brands own similar core attributes: innovation, unique experiences, disruption of typical models, etc. They also recognize that Google, Starbucks and Square share similar core customers and brand ambassadors.

If you take a moment to think about the implications of this last statement, you see that this type of brand partnership is an evolution from the former model.

While these partnerships do increase the value of all parties involved, they also bring together a vast group of customers and users who share the same human values that these brands embody: quality, speed, ingenuity, simplicity and passion, to name a few.

This allows consumers to begin to view these companies or brands as something much larger than a product, service or purchase. Instead, they add a new level of value to a distinct lifestyle and experience, creating an interwoven, overlapping community of advocates.

This is something much bigger than Girl Scouts cookies in ice cream.

From the Web: The Sharing Economy Comes Of Age

Back in April I wrote about disownership as a trend--how people's purchases that were once physical products, like cars, are now being bought as shared services, like Zipcar. 

As reported in Fast Company, the LeWeb conference chose to focus on the theme of a "Collaborative Economy",  a new movement in which consumers have "decided to share and rent rather than own things in a dramatic reversal of 50-year trends."

In the past year, 52% of Americans have rented, borrowed, or shared things they used to own, and 83% of people are willing to do it.

My favorite part of the article: 

The new generations, committed to sustainability and social purpose, have learned from us that choice and income don't bring happiness, but community, trust, and purpose might. It's a new consumer mindset that values transparency, participation, and collaboration. In this atmosphere, the new brand is no brand, and intrusive branding and advertising had better stay out of the way. 

Encourage People To Succeed

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the man. Don't think so? Watch The Most Astounding Fact.


Next time you congratulate someone on a job well done, also take the time to encourage someone who has yet to experience success.

Think of the ripple effect your encouragement could have.

Farmhouse: Reinventing the Wallet at Chicago Ideas Week

This post was originally published on HBG's Brand Innovation for Health blog.

Melissa & Bree at Leo Burnett Farmhouse

Melissa & Bree at Leo Burnett Farmhouse

Farmhouse: Reimagine, Redesign and Remarket an Everyday Object

Earlier this month, the HBG team embarked on a journey to experience Chicago Ideas Week with the goal of learning, discovering and focusing our collective Intellectual Curiosity.

At Farmhouse (the innovation and new venture center of Leo Burnett), I teamed up with about 10 random strangers to reimagine, redesign and remarket an everyday object. In our case: the wallet.

We experienced a 3-step process – product, strategy and story – with the goal of developing a new product, solving a consumer problem, and creating a targeted story to bring our new product to market.

Our product – named “The Joey” for its resemblance to a baby kangaroo in its mother’s pouch – consisted of a wallet that simply zipped into your jacket or pants, providing a secure, hands-free alternative to the wallets currently on the market.

Our target was deemed the “Adventure Capitalist” – the professional who embarks on business adventures, and travels constantly for work. The Adventure Capitalist would love The Joey for its security, ease of use, and the ability to quickly pass through airport security, which is getting more and more difficult by the hour.

To promote The Joey, we considered hosting “business obstacle courses” in Manhattan, where Adventure Capitalists would encounter scenarios in which The Joey would make their life easier, such as airport security, business lunches, and suit shopping.

To bring The Joey to market, we decided to pursue strategic partnerships with companies already known for producing the clothing well loved by Adventure Capitalists.

In doing so, we would benefit from cross-marketing, established brand equity and the ability to tap into an existing, focused target consumer base. We determined J. Crew, Brooks Brothers, and several other higher end retailers would be a great start for our partnership endeavor.

The product, strategy and story were born. And, in Farmhouse fashion, they served us delicious Hoosier Mama apple pie!

Chicago Ideas Week - Storyboarding


Yesterday, I attended a Chicago Ideas Week lab at Gravity Tank, an innovation consultancy.

We learned about story-boarding and how it helps us to understand consumer experiences and pain points.

These insightful scenarios highlight potential opportunities where innovation and new thinking can be applied.

Collaborate & Improvise

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
— Charles Darwin