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Brand partnership mistakes to avoid in 2022

January 17, 2022

If you are looking for an effective way to reach a wider audience, increase sales, and drive growth for your business, brand partnerships are the way to go. And there are stats to prove this. 

Research shows that 54% of companies say partnerships drive more than 20% of total company revenue. Another 57% of organizations also say that they use partnerships to acquire new customers. 

These stats show that partnerships are very necessary for businesses that want to grow. But the reality is that more than half (60-65%) of brand partnerships fail. 

Not to worry, in order to make your brand partnership campaigns a success, I have outlined a list of common brand partnership mistakes that you should avoid in 2022.

Let's get started.

1. Collaborating with partners that don't match your brand values

When you choose a partner, it's important that they match your brand's values. 

Why?

Today, most consumers expect that their favorite brands will have similar social values as theirs. Studies from Edelman show that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of customers will buy or boycott a brand solely based on its values. So partnering with the wrong brand can negatively affect your business.

For instance, let's say an eco-friendly company partners with a food retail company that uses a lot of plastics, there will likely be an uproar from its customers. 

This is why –  research shows that retailers alone cause up to 800,000 tonnes of plastic waste a year. And if your customers are doing business with you because of your eco-friendly values, they might boycott your brand because of your new partnership. 

As a business, your core values are one of the factors that define your brand and should be one of the key influences during the decision-making process of choosing your partner. 

For your brand's values to be meaningful, customers should be able to see them practically. It shouldn't just be on billboards or your website.  Your brand values should be a representation of your products, employees, culture, and partnerships.

Choosing a partner because of their reach or experience won't be enough. A successful partnership must also be between brands that are a good fit and have shared values. 

2. Lack of proper communication between partners

A partnership between two brands can be likened to every other relationship. Just as everyday relationships, business relationships need time, effort, and proper communication for them to be a success. 

Both brands in the partnership are interested in growing their businesses by increasing brand awareness, customer acquisition, customer retention, and driving sales. And if these goals are to be met, communication is key. 

Regular and effective communication is very important. Partnerships break down because one or both parties fail to communicate. On the other hand, regular communication ensures that no one feels left out in the business relationship. 

Another way poor communication kills partnerships is when the communication is not transparent. If you and your partner are not clear and honest about what you expect to gain from the partnership, it can cause problems down the line. Each party should be clear about what they are ready to commit to the partnership. This way, no one feels like they are being cheated or doing all the work. 

And as the partnership progresses, each side should keep each other informed. Regularly offer status reports on the collaborative projects you and your partner are involved in. This helps to limit any surprises. It's best practice to always let your partner know what is going on at your end. It builds trust; which is necessary for a smooth partnership. 

Tip: It's a good idea to designate one or two points of contact in each brand. These contacts will handle communication and hold regular meetings to ensure that the objectives of all partners still align. 

3. The partnership doesn't make sense for the customers

Most brands pursue partnerships for different reasons like increasing brand awareness and acquiring new customers. But a missed opportunity that is often overlooked is that partnerships should also improve the customer experience. Partnerships done right should firstly improve customer loyalty and retention while allowing the brands involved to get new customers that match their audience.

There are many examples of brand partnerships that have failed because they did not consider their customers. 

In 2013, Neiman Marcus, a luxury brand, partnered with Target on a new clothing line. The problem was that Target’s customers' go-to options were cost-efficient clothing that wasn't expensive. The collaboration between the two brands was too expensive for Target’s target audience. This caused the partnership to fail because Target customers were not willing to spend as much on clothes.

Another example of a partnership gone wrong is between Forever 21 and Atkins. Atkins, an online diet program partnered with Forever 21 to send out snack bars to customers that place an order online. However, Forever 21’s customers didn't like that the fashion retailer was sending them weight loss bars. Some customers even complained online that Forever 21 was body-shaming them. The partnership did not work because the target audience of both brands didn't match. 

Conversely, an example of a brand partnership that considered its audience is BMW and Louis Vuitton. 

Black BMW next a collection of black Louis Vuitton bags

In the partnership, BMW created a luxury sports car while Louis Vuitton designed an exclusive luxury set of suitcases and bags that fit perfectly into the car's rear parcel shelf. Even though the price of the car was $135,000 and the suitcases cost $20,000, their customers were still happy to make the purchase. This was because their customers love all things luxury so the partnership made sense for the brands. 

Tip: One of the main goals of your partnerships should be to collaborate with partners in a way that provides a more enjoyable experience for your customers than your brand can provide on its own. Start this by identifying your key customer personas and the problems they experience. Then find partnerships that offer opportunities that will help improve your customer experience. 

4. Failing to effectively execute the partnership campaign 

Another reason why partnerships might fail is that they are executed poorly. If both parties don't put 100% effort into trying to make the partnership work, there is a good chance it might fail. 

So how can you ensure that the collaboration between both parties is executed properly?

Before starting any project or campaign, both parties involved in the partnership must agree on a strategic plan. Having a strategic plan at the start of the partnership campaign ensures that both brands have the same goals. 

You should also note that the strategy will evolve as the collaboration progresses. New challenges and opportunities will crop up, so communication is important. This will allow the partners to start and remain on the same page in regards to how the partnership will be executed. 

Also, the proper execution of any partnership campaign relies on continually measuring and monitoring key performance indicators. 

For instance, your company’s goal for joining the partnership might be to increase customer acquisition by 20% in 6 months. By regularly monitoring your customer acquisition rate, you can observe the data over time. And if the data show that your customer acquisition rate is decreasing, it could signal that the strategic plan for the partnership isn't being executed properly. It can even mean that you are collaborating with the wrong partner. 

5. Not experimenting with verticals 

There will be some obvious brands that it will make sense for you to partner with. For example, a clothing brand partnering with an e-commerce brand would be an obvious choice. But the clothing brand might also see success if they partner with a brand in the travel industry to show how versatile their clothes are.

It's best practice to experiment with different partnership opportunities. You don't always have to work with the most obvious brands. You can find other brands not directly related to your niche that partnering with them will also deliver value to your customers. 

For instance, Warby Parker and Arby’s partnered to form The WArby’s Collection. Warby Parker is a store that sells affordable glasses in the US and Arby’s is a restaurant chain known for the slogan “Nice to meat you”. 

Looking at both brands, they don't have much in common. The only thing they have in common is that they both have ‘arby’ in their name. This didn't stop them from collaborating. 

During the partnership, visitors to Warby Parker’s store can buy Arby’s themed fashion items. Like a WArby’s tote bag and T-shirt with “Nice To Meat You” on it. Customers could also buy glasses with a raw beef pattern. 

Pair of red tortoise shell spectacle frames

Also, Arby’s sold food with boxes that had the WArby’s logo on them. 

Blue tray with various Arby's take away food with WArby packaging

This campaign shows that you don't necessarily need to partner with brands in a similar industry or need a matching audience demographic for a successful partnership. Sometimes, all you need is to think out of the box and be creative. 

Wrapping up

Partnerships are an effective way for businesses to drive growth and scale faster. But to fully reap the benefits of brand partnerships, you need to avoid the mistakes listed above. 

A key thing to remember when it comes to partnerships is that you have to choose the right partner. The first step to success is to choose a partner that fits your brand. If you are not collaborating with the right brand, you are bound to make these mistakes. 

And the best way to find the right partner is to use a partnership marketing platform like intribe. With the help of intribe, companies, social enterprises, and nonprofits can easily collaborate to create amazing partnerships. The platform makes it easy to discover and be discovered by brands who are looking to collaborate. 

Get started with intribe.